Scooters In The Sahara Ride Report

Discussion in 'Battle Scooters' started by Fanum, Apr 21, 2006.

  1. Fanum

    Fanum Moto-Morocco Meister

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    Welcome to the official Tossers In The Sahara Ride Report :D


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    Bill; On December 27th 2004, three tossers from UKGSer, Graham (Slimbo) Fanum (Bill) and Tony set off from Portsmouth in an old Land Rover.

    We were part of the Plymouth-Banjul challenge, a non-competitive rally with three rules;
    1) Vehicles shouldn't cost more than a hundred pounds
    2) No more than £15 should be spent on preparation
    3) Once on the road, the rally is completely unsupported
    3a) Rules 1 and 2 are open to abuse ;)

    We acquired a series 3 landy for sensible money, then Graham tweaked and modified it using old bits, donated parts and whatever happened to be lying around in his garage, and off we went.

    We also took quite a few boxes of medical equipment, including a TENS pain relief device (used in Childbirth), some medicines and lots of football kits, school equipment and other items, all donated by friends and UKGSer members.

    The trip was a huge success..we raised several thousand pounds for some UK based charities and donated the football kit and school supplies to St Francis Basic School in Serekunda near Banjul, more medical kit and the TENS machine to the Royal Victoria Training Hospital.

    After three days touring around trying to find somewhere to leave the Land Rover (Now named Boris), we left our prized vehicle with a lovely lady called Stella Brewer who is involved in various projects in a small, very remote village called Sambel Kunda.

    During the trip, we discussed the possibilities for doing another trip the following year, and on our return, I sat down and considered the possibilities.

    It had to be bigger, better and more stupid than the previous trip, it had to give more to the people of Gambia and it had to involvemore people from UKGSer so the event would build year on year.

    With UKGSer being a bike based community, the obvious answer was to do it on motorcycles, but GS's would have been too easy as well as not leaving anything down in the Gambia when we left.

    So the idea was born to take small bikes......bikes that would do the trip, be of great use but would be cheap to run, easy to acquire and yet still man enough for the job.


    C90s!!!


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    These superb little four strokes have a great (and deserved) reputation for reliability...they're comfy, frugal and their engines are bomb proof......plus there are thousands around the country so we hoped it would be possible to acquire enough

    There followed nine months of hard work, preparation, welding weekends, woodworking weekends, collection of drugs and kit and some amazing acts of generosity and support from our fellow UKGSers, as well as the consumption of rather a lot of Port, all fairly well documented on the Scooters in the Sahara section, until we finally came to the day that we were ready (ROFL....ready??? behave!!) for the off......

    1.Departure day, 27th December 2005, Scoot Central, Telford

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    The biggest part of the evening before leaving, was spent trying to decide if the C90's would fit in longways, or sideways, or could we maybe get some of them across the way? Some bright spark even had an idea of putting one across the towbar at the front of the trailer. The trailer survived the ordeal and the C90's were securely strapped on.

    The Merc van, the Disco and trailer, and Rev Chuck's Renault then began a convoy toward Dover, although setting the scene for the trip it was a couple of hours later than intended and then 1/2 mile down the road we stopped for fuel and air.

    It seems that not only had the van not been driven for the last 8 years but the tyres hadn't been inflated either. As it was impossible to get at the inside rear wheel without removing them it was decided to trust in lady luck, a decision which would come back to haunt us a couple of thousand miles later!

    About forty five minutes into the journey Dennis, who was driving the van for the trip across the UK, casually said to Ian "Steve did give you the van documents last night?" Ian's reply was unprintable, each had thought the other had the requisit papers! In fact they were still on a table in Steve & Rebecca's hallway. After some quick mobile calls, Rev Chuck and Steve Chip, by good fortune following in Rev Chuck's car, were dispatched back to Telford to get the aforementioned paperwork. Then onwards and upwards (or should that be downwards as we were heading south?) expecting the worst weather that the south and east of England had experienced up to that point of the winter, but amzingly we found that all the roads were running clear with only the slightest hint of snow to be found in Essex, only once we crossed the Thames did we see much in the way of snow.
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  2. Fanum

    Fanum Moto-Morocco Meister

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    Bill; Maria (Archeao, Mrs Rocky/Jason) had sewn up a very special suit for Steve Chip.....complete with easy access zipper, the suit was to come in very handy later on the trip........

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    After final goodbyes, we headed for the docks and booked in......because of its size, the truck was loaded as freight and stuck on a different deck and Bilks was shoved on an earlier ferry altogether, but it all turned out OK and after a little confusion on arrival in France we met up and started on our way.

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    Until ten minutes later when the skies opened up and dumped a couple of inches of snow and hail down very very quickly.......with a fully laden truck, a disco with 6 people on board towing a very large trailer with 7 scoots on board it got rather hairy, but we drove through it (very slowly) and at least there was nothing else on the road......

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    Even if at times we could see three shades less than fekk all!!

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  3. Fanum

    Fanum Moto-Morocco Meister

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    Steve; Thursday morning and on our way down through France. It was bloody cold outside, but we were warm and cosy with 7 smelly GSers snuggled up in the Disco.

    Note Chippy showing early signs of adopting a crouching position, which would prove to be a very useful skill later......
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  4. Fanum

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    Bill; We drove, we drove and then we drove some more.

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    Then in Southern France, early in the morning, we found Steptoe...or rather, he found us.......

    Speggo; This bloke kept showing up. Anyone know who he is? Jamie obviously does as he is giving him some sort of ancient masonic greeting.

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    All shitebagged and muffed up, Neil was fairly cosy considering the temperature outside and it was good to see him on the road :thumb
    (Note the frost forming on his screen :eek )

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    Naturally he recieved a friendly welcome from the team :D

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    But after another full day of driving, everyone was getting tired and we decided to stop a little north of Madrid, catch a few hours sleep (literally) and then start again early the next morning.

    The tiredness shows on the faces....and after a shower, a pint and a bit of nosh, we all turn in for the night...alarm clocks set for 2am for a 3am departure :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

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    Neil and Oblertone didn't need any waking up but they got some :D
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  5. Fanum

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    Bill; We managed to leave the hotel by 3.30-ish and hit the road again.....the intention was to make Algeciras that day and then get the first ferry across to Cueta the next morning........Oh how we laughed :rolleyes:

    It was chuffin cold, with snow and frost all over, and the truck struggled up some of the big hills.

    We stopped at the top of one to find some coffee and snacks- then had to drive back down the hill to turn round before coming back up it again, all the time straining the truck engine.

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    A few hours down the road though, we pulled over in a service area with the truck overheating......to find the radiator had split down in the bottom left corner, many missing fins and rather a lot of water pissing out all over the floor :(

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    So began the frst of many many unpacking/repackings of the truck....we tried to find a mystical red toolbox (since located in Telford :rolleyes:) that contained some magic 'fairy dust' radiator sealant powder kindly donated by Slimbo.
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  6. Fanum

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    First of many attempts to re-pack the van

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  7. Fanum

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    We set off again, keeping the speed sensible and stopping to top up the leaking rad several times, before pulling into another services where we found some PARIS-DAKAR support vehicles parked up.

    Can we have one of these please?
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  8. Fanum

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    Things started warming up as we got towards the coast though, the olive trees on rolling hills bearing witness to our progress south.

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    People started smiling as the temperature rose

    :mmmm :mmmm :mmmm :mmmm :mmmm :mmmm :mmmm :mmmm :mmmm :mmmmIs that smoke I can smell?? :mmmm :mmmm :mmmm :mmmm :mmmm :mmmm
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  9. Fanum

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    BILL; Because of all the delays we had to put in another night's delay and camped in a bizarre site in Toremolinas......the humorless German owner had signs up saying things like 'Absolutely no noise after 10pm, no laughing!' and 'No Movement on site before 8am', but it gave us the chance to repack the truck (again) and we shoved a lot of kit on the roofrack, wrapped up in poly bin bags.

    This gave us a t least a little operating room in the back and we were able to drag the spare bikes in and out with only ten minutes frantic struggling from there onwards :rolleyes: :D

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    After a late start, we made our way along the coast towards Algeciras but were soon halted again by the brakes of the disco boiling up on the hills.

    Arriving at Algeciras, it took rather too long to get tickets......the price though was negotiated down from arond £600 for all the vehicles to £450, as we said we were 'Rally' and got the official PD discount :D ;)

    KNowing that we had a long delay to look forwards to in Cueta to get across the boarder into Morocco, and losing another few hours shopping for beer and wine and beer and beer and beer and food, (we might have over done it on the food :D ) we reluctantly decided thatwe had to spend another night in Spain or we'd have been doing the first day's riding in Morocco in the dark- not something that appealed and it was New Year's Eve after al :D

    So back up the coast a litle we went, past Gibralter again, found the campsite , discovered it was closed and headed back down past the now very familiar British Rock.

    We found a hotel, but their kitchen was closed (FFS!!!) so we spent the evening unpacking the scoots in their car park, Oblertone brewed up some lovely 'red with lumps' in our improvised but very effective field kitchen and we rode the bikes around like loons for an hour or two.

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    Jamie proved that it is in fact possible to achieve a full donut on a C90 :eek:

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    A few beers in the car park (and a chat with a Plymouth-Dakar entrant who turned up as well) and we all turned in....we heard the Spanish New year in but were all fast asleep by UK-time midnight. :rolleyes:

    Speggo; Happy New year!!!!

    Spent in a car park in Algeceras. We managed to book into a hotel with no bar or restaurant on new years eve. Pissup? Brewery? Us? don't think so!
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  10. Fanum

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    Bill; New Year's day, and we were up again well before dawn to get down to the ferry terminal.

    We unloaded the bikes, got suited up and started getting ready for the proper start of the adventure.

    An empty trailer for the first time since we left Telford
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    Ready to hit the road properly, we lined up for a team photo
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    Not forgetting to get our two special guests in;
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    We said our fairwells to Jamie and Jason- although Jason was going to fly out to Banjul and join us in Bansang a few weeks later, their mission was to get everyone safely to Algeciras and then deliver the Disco and trailer back home.....

    A parting photo as we queued up to board the ferry;

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    Smiles in the queue as we got ready to ride in Africa
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    (The Adv rider was a just there by coincidence...a couple from the Isle Of Man IIRC ChuckI thought they were from Germany - the way they pushed into the queue, became our confidants, and then pissed off onto the boat ahead of us - off on a tour of Morocco)

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    Did I mention that 'someone' had lost the keys to one of the scoots by the way??

    I can't remember why we had to use one of the spare scoots going onto the boat, but the keys had gone a.w.o.l., so poor Rev Chuck had a rather inglorious departure from European shores, having to push his scoot on then off the ferry :( Charles Struggling to remember who it was said they had found the keys lying on top of the dashboard, a couple of days later... who was it again? Tosser!



    SPEGGO; Gibralter, Gibralter, so good they named it 8 times. At least, that was the number of times we drove past it looking for campsites, hotels, hypermarkets & ferries!

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  11. Fanum

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    BILL; Welcome to Cueta!!

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    It takes us about two hours to clear the border- but sitting there watching the antics of the customs guys, the dodgy 'official' helpers and the young lads who try and make a run for it from the Moroccan end to the Spanish end, the time passes fairly quickly.

    We heard a story about a bunch of people who presented an old insurance certificate for a Saab that had been scanned, photoshopped and that had had the names and registration numbers of all the people on that trip added to it, but obviously that's just a story.

    Mind you, if it were true, it would have saved that party £400 in 'insurance' payments (aka Customs officer tax) ;) :D

    It was a usefull introduction to Afgrican paperwork and the bullshit that can get you through.......we discovered that we didn't have the V5 for the truck, and without that, we couldn't take it through the border........

    Rooting through the paperwork box though, we found a S.O.R.N notice for it dated 2002, so with a bit of bluster and a whole lot of hand gestures, we managed to convince the head cusoms man that this piece of paper was in fact the registration document for the truck, so off we went :D

    The Moroccan border at Cueta
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    We set off along the coast for a few miles, each roundabout manned by a couple of Police and a radar gun but with our cruising speed well within the speed limit, we just blast through waving at the rather bemused officers.

    Paul singing the adopted team song 'Always look on the bright side of life) at our first fuel stop after passing successfully through the mahem that is Tetouan.
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    On the road at last.......Jaq's happy :)
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    Northern Morocco before you enter the Rif mountains is pretty indestinguishable from Southern Spain....
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    But we soon get into more rugged hills as we climb up towards Chefchaouene.
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    Charles The town of Chefchaun has over 60k of a population. it has running water between 4 & 8 p.m.. The electricity is supplied for 4 hours during the day as well. The rest of the time the authorities process the electricity supply through to other towns in northern Morroco.

    Chefchaouene.....the camp site is up in the trees next to the big white building on the treeline in the distance. CharlesThe young man, Mohammed, who was in charge of the campsite was a graduate from university
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    Great views across the valleys- and superb light.
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    Just below te town at the top of the hill are a couple of old steam engines, presumably left there after the road was built.
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    On the way up to the camp site, we performed stunts for the amusement of the local drug dealer :rolleyes:


    Speggo; Morocco at last! camping at Shefshwan. (The time I spent there, you would think I learned how to spell it wouldn't you!)

    It was pretty nippy overnight I seem to recall.

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    Bill; We found an old frame which we adopted- it made a great clothes drying device.

    Prizes awarded for any non-TIT who can correctly identify the owners of these rather fetching pants being dried :D
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  12. Fanum

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    Ian (Universally known throughout the arab world as Ali Baba) decides to spend his time waiting for the van to be fixed by opening a restaurant.
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  13. Fanum

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    Unfortunately he falls foul of local planning & hygene regulations and is subsequently encarcerated in the local nick.
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  14. Fanum

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    Not having access to Paul's magic 'get out of jail free' card, he has to provide 'favours' to the local police chief before being released.
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  15. Fanum

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    Open heart surgery on the truck.

    We had been suffering from overheating and coolant loss since about half way through Spain, but by the time we got here it was clear that drastic action was needed.

    Hassan and his crew managed to relieve us of about €650 and two days out of our schedule to fit a water pump and second hand radiator. Not suprisingly, these were not stock items and he had to make a 120km round trip twice to get the parts- (don't ask why he needed to go twice instead of getting them in one trip, it's just the African way)
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  16. Fanum

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    The next morning, we pitched camp and headed down to a garage that the previous year's trip had found to see about getting the truck fixed.......

    We knew that the rad wouldn't hold with the driving and conditions we were going to be experiencing, and we'd also noticed a severe wobble on the water pump shaft that said thatthe bearings were well and truly shot.

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    While the mechanics had a look at the truck, we thoroiughly enjoyed some very sticky things that were stickier than a melting sticky thing with sugar on top.....with the normal Mint Tea, a very nice breakfast :thumb

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  17. Fanum

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    It was a lovely morning, and the stresses and bad moods that had been created by al of us being squahed together for three or four days in crap conditions on the way down through Europe dissapeared as we relaxed into the Moroccan day.

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    You can't really stay stressed in this sort of place, even if you do have to watch Ian stuffing his face with honeyed bread and mint tea :D

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    The local kids thought we were very interesting........

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    We had a very close brush with disaster though when thecrowd of kids started swelling after some cadeaux had been given out....a little girl ran across the road to the garage forecourt where we were packing and got hit by a van...amazingly though, she bounced off the corner of the vehicle and rolled acrtoss the road unhurt.......the van driver wasn't so lucky though because the local chief of police was having tea in the same cafe and promptly arrested him, had his van impounded and he was driven away.

    The repairs on the van were'nt going well and we were told that it would be the next day before it was back on the road, so a team decision was made that the scoots should push on and leave two behind with the van to get that sorted....Ian and Speggo volunteered so te rest of us packed up hurriedly and headed off towards Fes , leaving them with a wodge of money and a day to mooch around Chefchaeoun.

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  18. Fanum

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    The plan was to go up into the Rif mountains on smaller roads twards Fes- a shorterroute than going down the main road but the roads we were going on were a totally unknown quantity.

    We rose quickly into the hills and soon had to stop to take photos...absolutley stunning views back towards where we'd left Ian and Steve and fantastic valleys in all directions.

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    The white town in the distance is Chechaeoun.
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    The road started off as a reasonable but narrow tarmac ribbon but had long stretches of mud or gravel

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    And going round corners we sometimes met the number 18 tractor to town :D

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  19. Fanum

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    The next town on the list of targets was called Zoumi......the views got better as we got closer and we were running well, though slower than we'd have liked because the roads were so twisty and sometimes slippery.

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    Neil was having trouble keeping up with the hardcore scooter riders so we slowed down for him as well :D

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    Thick gravel, C90's with road tyres and not knowing what was round the next corner made the riding interesting :eek:

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  20. Fanum

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    Asking a local man the way at a junction that wasn't supposed to exist, we found the road down into the Valley of liquid shite.....

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    The road was variable with large amounts of mud in places....picking your line was essential but from time to time the battered Mercedes taxis or even more battered tractors forced some evasive action which became 'interesting' :rolleyes:

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    Zoumi's not a big town but it was market day so the population had trebled..the smell of the market rose up the hill as we approached....

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