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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,

I have been hmm'ing and haw'ing about a road trip the past two summers, and I have been putting it off. I have 2 weeks off this summer that I need to find something to do with, so I am entertaining the idea again this year.

I have always wanted to ride across Canada (I'm just outside Toronto). My best friend and his father did a road trip (in a car) a few years ago I'd like to somewhat recreate. It went from Ontario to BC - all through Canada (no USA shortcuts like Google suggests), down the coast to California, and then come home diagonally.

It's ambitious and would be a blast.

My background - I have the 2017 FZ09. During the summer every single Friday I ride 3 hours to the cottage and 3 hours home on Sunday. 3 hours to me is really nothing - and the Comfort Seat makes it a breeze. There are times where I rode 3 hours to the cottage and then rode for 2 hours once I got there, so extended rides are pretty common.

I will be riding alone, so I won't have to worry about someone else's endurance.

QUESTIONS

For people who have done a long road trip before:
- How many hours/miles/km's do YOU personally ride in a day?
- How many hours/miles/km's do YOU think someone can reasonably ride in a day?
- What would be considered a long or short day for riding?
- I love "roughing it", so sleeping in a tent is a welcome idea - how does that work for find a place to set up?
- How do you plan your gas? The FZ isn't the greatest, but do you do advanced planning for stations, or do you fill up as you go?
- What kinds of things do you pack? Everything from clothes to chain lube.
- What time of year is best to ride through Cali? Friends told me the summer sucks because of fog - but summer is best for riding through Canada.

And what else an I missing? I'm sure there's stuff I should probably know. I have read a few blogs on it, but they don't really address some of the questions I had, and mine relate to specific locations. Blogs generalize about riding distances too - so I'd like to hear YOUR histories with mileage.

I have never done anything like this before, so I want to be as prepared as I could be. I'd also like to know some "do"s and "don't"s when planning or executing the trip. This will be a whole new world to me, so I'm thinking there are things you may have run across and a newbie might not be aware of. Those "I've been there!" kind of tips.

I love long rides. I don't mind roughing it. I am not expecting to stay in any nice hotels. I can roll with the punches when thrown a curve-ball.

I may or may not end up doing this, but it's one of those bucket list items that's at the top and I really want to cross it off.
 

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Fatigue is cumulative. But of course, you already know that...if even only intuitively.
There is only one way to accomplish your ambitious goal, and that is to grind it out with very long (10 to 12 hour) days.

While I have never attempted what you have proposed, I have a close friend that does 5,000 to 7,000 mile road trips every year.
Last year, he rode Birmingham, Alabama to Calgary. This year, his objective is Birmingham to the Arctic Circle.
If you are interested in what he's learned, I'd be glad to share that with you here.

In your personal experience, how tolerant is the RCMP when it comes to motorcyclists blowing well past the posted limit?
 

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When I was touring we'd do 400 - 500 km's a day. That might not sound like much, but our roads are not superhighways. They're narrow, often twisty and hilly, and you tend to do a lot of overtaking, the focus needed tended to wear you down, but also kept you awake, go figure.
Serious fatigue wasn't really an issue, except one time when I started nodding off after lunch. That was a bit of a worry, but a stop for a coffee fixed it.
When I was renting Harleys out, we'd often have European and US tourists overestimating how much distance they could do in a day. We'd give them detailed briefings about our roads before they took the bikes.
I used to leave an 80 km margin from empty for refills.
The most important thing is not to feel rushed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Fatigue is cumulative. But of course, you already know that...if even only intuitively.
There is only one way to accomplish your ambitious goal, and that is to grind it out with very long (10 to 12 hour) days.

While I have never attempted what you have proposed, I have a close friend that does 5,000 to 7,000 mile road trips every year.
Last year, he rode Birmingham, Alabama to Calgary. This year, his objective is Birmingham to the Arctic Circle.
If you are interested in what he's learned, I'd be glad to share that with you here.

In your personal experience, how tolerant is the RCMP when it comes to motorcyclists blowing well past the posted limit?
I'd be VERY interested in what he has learned from those trips. People like that I'm sure have tons of tricks they've learned.

In my experience you can always go 10km/h over any limit without any worries of being pulled over. Most people do 15 over the limit whether it's in cities or highways. Cops start to look at you if you go above 20 over any posted limits as tickets start when you reach 16km/h over the limit. Most don't care for 20 over on a highway unless they've had a bad day. Most of the roads I'm looking at are 80km to 100km/h.

How I've Broken This Trip Down
I have 16 days off work. I broke the trip into 7 hour days of riding over the course of 15 days. I feel it's a good amount each day - 3.5 hours in the morning, 3.5 in the afternoon - which amount to about 600 to 700km's each day. It leaves times for meals and some quick sight seeing. It also leaves 1 full day for the unexpected.

I'm wondering if that's too much though. I know I can ride for 7 hours easy, but I question if it's sustainable over 15 days. If someone says they've done more miles each day, then I know I'm in a good ball park and I'm being realistic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
When I was touring we'd do 400 - 500 km's a day. That might not sound like much, but our roads are not superhighways. They're narrow, often twisty and hilly, and you tend to do a lot of overtaking, the focus needed tended to wear you down, but also kept you awake, go figure.
Serious fatigue wasn't really an issue, except one time when I started nodding off after lunch. That was a bit of a worry, but a stop for a coffee fixed it.
When I was renting Harleys out, we'd often have European and US tourists overestimating how much distance they could do in a day. We'd give them detailed briefings about our roads before they took the bikes.
I used to leave an 80 km margin from empty for refills.
The most important thing is not to feel rushed.
There are some areas I already know have twists and hills, mainly from Ontario to Manitoba. Once you hit Manitoba it's pretty much flat, so those miles should be a lot less fatiguing - so in the little spreadsheet I made I said that instead of 700km's that day 500km's would be more realistic.

I commented above, but I planned on 7 hours a day, with 1 full day with no riding. That may mean returning home a day early, or it may mean fixing a flat - but I thought a day with nothing planned would help out some issues I come across.

Do you have any tips about 2+ day trips from where you worked? I'm trying to picture what I'd need on the trip too. I forgot to mention that in my first post. Like chain lube, multi tools, tire repair, etc. What kinds of things would I be expected to carry?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
From what I've mapped out, time and distance. The average day is 700km's and 7 hours. That time and distance is all what Google has said, so actual driving times will be shorter since most people go above the limit here and there.

Anyone do trips that are 700km (435 miles) each day? Is that fine, or stupid?
 

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Maybe I missed it, but what kind of roads are you going to be on? Last year I did a whopping 4 days of about 300 miles a day and it was perfect for me. Could I have done another few days, sure, but 10 more, not likely and certainly not at 400+/day. This was mostly on a controlled access scenic highway (the Blue Ridge Parkway - speed limit was generally 45, but we might have been a tick over that at times....:)). I honestly can't imagine an extra 135 miles a day for 14-15 days straight - especially on these little bikes.

The other thing I'll add is that we DID feel rushed with our schedule. We were hustling and barely made it. I'd encourage you to take a little of the distance out of it so you can actually enjoy what you do accomplish.
 

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My $. 02 is that during a trip like this, 700 kms a day may take away from the experience of it.

The cool places you'll see along the way, the pictures you may want to take. There will be people at some of these points of interest that may want to chat with you about your ride/adventure. Stopping to eat, to hydrate, etc. Stuff like that eats time at an alarming rate when you're "on a schedule".

As an example, a couple of years ago we rode from home (Midland, ON) to Thunder Bay. We already had a head start on you living north of you. We rode to Sault Ste Marie the first day, Marathon the second day, and from there to Thunder Bay on day 3. Enjoyed the ride immensely.

If you make each day a "destination" rather than a journey, it may not be as enjoyable.

We ride alot, and have done some days of 700kms, but "stopping to smell the roses" makes these days an all day event. Maybe 12 hours or so.

I would never consider 700 kms per day for 2 weeks straight, but that's just me. Others may not have an issue doing those distances in a day. A friend of mine will ride over 300kms before stopping. It's definitely a very individual thing, and what you want to get out this trip.

Sent from my SM-G950W using Tapatalk
 
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You would need to do some serious pavement pounding to do that route which unless your an iron butt kind of rider may not be as much fun as riding for 15 days at a relaxed pace. It is almost 3500 kilometers from your neck of the woods to Calgary and once out of Ontario it is a BORING LONG haul to Calgary...so your looking at roughly 3 to 4 days of flat straight roads with hardly a tree in site.

While not in the iron butt category, that is some serious miles in a relatively short time frame. I have a friend that did a lot of the iron butt challenges and he would start his day off with breakfast and a couple of aspirin to ward off the inevitable soreness from long days in the saddle. He brought along some tire repair plugs and a small pump in case of a flat in the middle of nowhere. Some chain lube was the only other maintenance related item he took with him...the rest was clothes, riding gear and good rain gear.

Another route you may want to consider would be from the top of Maine down the Appalachians/Smokey mountains to Georgia...amazing roads and scenery with plenty of two wheel friendly campgrounds. Not trying to talk you out of your proposed route, just tossing out an option! I'm sure what ever you do is going to be a great memorable trip!
 

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For people who have done a long road trip before:
- How many hours/miles/km's do YOU personally ride in a day?
as little as 200 mi, as many as 600 mi per day, especially across the boring flat middle of canada/usa (about 800 miles of flat hell)
- How many hours/miles/km's do YOU think someone can reasonably ride in a day?
generally i ride from 8 to 5, or be done by dusk worst case (which can be pretty late in canada) when the deer come out
- What would be considered a long or short day for riding?
see above
- I love "roughing it", so sleeping in a tent is a welcome idea - how does that work for find a place to set up?
spend the money, just stay in hotels, your body will thank you for getting a good night sleep, the first 2-3 days will be fun to camp it, then it turns into a REAL GRIND and the tent stuff takes up a lot of space that you need for more important things
- How do you plan your gas? The FZ isn't the greatest, but do you do advanced planning for stations, or do you fill up as you go?
fill up every 100-120 miles, hydrate every time you get gas, your body will thank you
- What kinds of things do you pack? Everything from clothes to chain lube.
layers, layers, layers be prepared for 100 deg Fahrenheit to freezing in the mountains, i carry 3 pairs of gloves for all conditions, rain gear, water proof boots and tennis shoes to wear at night so you sweaty boots can dry
if you run into a 100 deg F day, soak your tee-shirt and wear you jacket over it, it will keep you very cool that way
- What time of year is best to ride through Cali? Friends told me the summer sucks because of fog - but summer is best for riding through Canada.
the nice thing about california is if the coast is fogged in or real cold, just go inland 20-30 miles and it warms up nicely and take an more inland route until you want to tackle the coast again

personally i would go across until i get to the rockies then drop south into idaho, montana, utah (the best kept secret in the usa), wyoming and colorado, stop by sturgis on your way home
 
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Here you go. Though you won't be doing an endurance run, most of these tips are applicable to your ride.

IBA - World's Toughest Motorcycle Riders

Having ridden across Canada, B.C. to the Great Lakes and every state west of the Mississippi, here are some specific tips.

1. Find a way to carry a gallon or more of gas, otherwise half your time you'll be thinking about gas. Without extra gas you'll also be reluctant to venture from your planned route which would be a shame as exploring and getting off the main roads is a big part of touring on a motorcycle. Adequate fuel is the FZ's/MT's biggest limitation to touring. IMO

2. Ask the local motorcycle shop where the scenic, motorcycle friendly, roads from point A to B are. They know.

3. There aren't many alternate routes in central and western Canada but once your in the U.S., avoid the interstate highways and take the "blue highways". These are the smaller roads previously used before the interstate highway system was created. They take longer to get places than interstates but are more interesting to ride. You'll eat at local restaurants, see local sights, meet local folks as opposed to 7-11s and chain shops. Again, refer to #2.

4. I don't know if cell phone coverage is everywhere so bring a map(s), especially for mountain ranges.

5. Strive to be self-sufficient in case of an emergency. Take tools including puncture repair kit, air pump, fuses, zip ties, duct tape, headlight bulb and medicine (pain killers, antiseptic wipes, bandages) in case of an accident.

6. Backpacking gear is best for camping as it's small and light. Have a tent big enough to put all your gear in during rain. Picking a place to camp and set up camp before it gets dark makes for a more relaxing experience. Later you can stroll around the campground and meet other campers. I split camping and motels 50-50. Forget about camping on the side of the road, look for campsites.

When you're stopped in a small town or crossroads, you'll be surprised how many folks will talk to you. Not the same on the interstates.

As stated in the Iron Butt tips, always put your rain gear on BEFORE it starts raining. Nothing quite like stopping on the side of the road in the pouring rain, digging through your luggage and getting your rain gear on. By then it's too late, you're soaked. Waterproof glove covers are a good thing, too. It will rain. Trash compactor bags make good, waterproof saddlebag liners.

Seven hours every day riding is a lot to do, on an FZ09. What if you want to take a break if you find some person(s)/place(s) you want to visit. Riding alone I would ride at least seven hours a day. I likened it to the Pony Express, I'd been a lot of place but saw very little. Having to be on a schedule sort of defeats the purpose of a long ride. You may want to adjust the length of your trip to suit the length of your vacation.

Go through a tank of gas before having breakfast.

Have fun.
 

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I've done several 1500-2000 mile trips usually lasting 3-5 days. Normal mix is probably a 60% back roads 40% slab mix. I can do 500-600 miles a day on a naked no problem at this kind of mix. If you start mixing in more of the fun stuff that distance will go down accordingly.

I've read a few of the comments and skimmed the rest. My advice is to keep your distance goal, but lower your expectations of achieving it. Plan less and just take off and see what happens, let the road, your heart, and your ass be your guide. I know, I'm in a philosophical mood. Make a rough plan, but basically just shoot from the hip so to speak. It will make for a trip that feels more like a vacation and adventure and less like a job.

Try to stay off the slab when possible,
stop at local restaurants instead of the chain places,
take camping gear, but stay at hotels too, that way you have your options covered
don't over pack, we live in 2019 not 1819, if you need something chances are you aren't far from a store that sells it.
Don't get carried away on clothes. It will depend on your riding gear, but two pairs of jeans (maybe 1 pair), two pairs of shorts, 2 or 3 shirts, 3-4 pairs of under wear and socks. The under garments are easy to clean in the sink and hang over the heat/ac vent in the hotel, as for the other clothes just find a campground or hotel that has a self serve laundry facility. I would take 2 pairs of riding gloves, rain gear, wind breaker, chain lube, a couple micro towels and visor cleaner, tire gauge, multi tool, crescent wrench, foldable allen head tool, tire repair kit, a few extra fuses, I love zip ties so I never go anywhere without them. You can use them for securing loads, temporary repairs, and even dating. I also usually carry a small roll of gorilla tape and a piece of Velcro about 18" long rolled up. Those things take up very little space, but come in very handy. I like a small thing of hand sanitizer and always sh!t tickets (toilet paper off the roll and in a baggy) It's nice to know you can wipe your back side even if you are just behind a bush. It's what separates us from the animals.

All that stuff should fit in your saddle bags and then you can throw a single man tent, inflatable sleeping pad, and a synthetic down quilt into a duffel bag and strap it to the rear seat or hopefully you have a top case. Just FYI my camping gear including tent can fit it a plastic grocery sack so if you have the bulkier stuff my opinion may be off.
 

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So...my Alabama-friend was lucky enough to be running with a wingman who matched his skills and pace perfectly. And the pace was "hot". For their trip to Calgary, they stayed in the USA until getting to Montana where they ran north into Canada. They chose that route as they were both unsure of what sort of complications might arise with enforcement in Canada across the prairies at speed. They avoided divided highways and employed radar detectors to soften the anxiety and stress of rolling at 90 mph about 80% of the time. Sometimes they would wick it up to 110 for short stretches. They also ran a good bit at night in order to have the daylight hours for chatting up locals, sightseeing and having sit down meals. They allowed 5 days to make the 2700 mile pull to the Stampede. They set a target of 500 to 600 miles a day. I couldn't do it. I'd be shot after two days. And those two guys are in the early 70's riding FJR1300's.

His short list of tips for long distance travel, as follows:
Hydration, hydration, hydration. He uses a CamelBack so that he can sip water/gatorade, rather than slamming water at fuel stops. That way they hardly ever had to stop for an unplanned pee-break. They made themselves urinate whatever amount at fuel stops. Hydration is key to keeping yourself "thinking straight" and energy level up.

Buy a mesh bag for drying laundry on the run. And wash your socks, t-shirt and underwear every night in the shower. And don't bring too many clothes. Those guys brought 3 underwear, t-shirts and a half-dozen pairs of socks, rain gear, 1 pair of heavy pants, 1 pair of lightweight pants/shorts and a fleece pant and top in addition to their Aerostich riding togs and baby wipes. As for tools: whatever was necessary for roadside tire repairs, a very basic tool kit to handle oddball fasteners, a spool of medium gauge "safety" wire, gorilla tape, spare headlight and taillight bulbs, siphon hose and a rudimentary first aid kit with plenty of heavy gauze pads and tape in the event of a catastrophic laceration. Oh and music for those miles and miles of boring AF straight stretches

One last thing, I will mention. Both of those dudes are ex-military and as such, personal hygiene is part of their nature. They always shaved, shampooed and showered every night and put on reasonably fresh clothes every morning. And being as it was two of them, getting hotel rooms every night was not too bad. They see it as a way to feel as fresh as possible. Real Iron Butt Riders hardly ever shower, that's where the baby wipes come in...and of course they sleep on picnic tables and whatnot. But why punish yourself, it's not a survival exercise.

As for me, I never go anywhere anymore unless it's place where a gratuity is expected. :) It's getting to the point where I may need to start traveling with a man servant.

good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wow! Lots of replies with good tips.

Although the Toronto -> BC -> California trip would be awesome, I'm not opposed to shortening it. I'm going to do more research as time goes on.

Thank you for the tips about clothes. I pack light, but never though about a mesh bag to dry clothes. Washing underwear and socks in a sink and having them air dry is a great tip.

It seems like my 700km (430 mile) days seem pretty close to what some of you mentioned. If I decide against Cali and take more time through Canada, maybe come back through the USA, then the days would be down to 500 km (310 miles) or so.

I already have my Camelbak. I love it. As I said before, I'm used to 3 hour trips. I stop for gas, and jump back on the bike. The Camelbak has been amazing for me, so I wouldn't leave home without it.

Some follow up questions

1) For an air pump, what would you guys pack? I have a small 12v pump that plugs into a car 12v port, but not 12v port on my bike.

2) If you stay at motels, are you worried about having your bike stolen? What are your tips for that? The only advice I heard (and saw on YouTube) was one guy rolled his bike into his motel room. There's got to be a better way... right?
 

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Try to get motel room on the ground floor where you can park it outside your door. Of course chain the bike up and don't leave anything on it.
 

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A buddy and I did a 6 day trip in the US. Started in NW Ohio, rode to Virginia to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway, then to the Cherahola and Dragons Tail then off to the Devils Triangle and then slabbed back home. All in all we did ~2300 miles. We stayed in Hotels as we traded nights paying for them. We packed clothes along w/ basic fuses, wrenches, allens and tire pumps. We both have the Stop n Go tire pump. We've pumped up truck tires and even Pinzgauer tires with them (slowly but it worked).
Other than the last day home we tried to stay off highways as much as possible. We averaged 6-7 hrs a day on the bikes and it was about right. He rides a big ADV bike and I had an FJR at the time so the miles were easy. The slab took it out of us, the back roads did not. We are fast, aggressive riders and were always 10+ over the speed limit. The Cherahola was a blur to us, pushing 75+ on it as it was empty the day we were there. I only tell you that because now when we look back on that trip we wish we had slowed down and took more pictures and enjoyed where we have been. We had a good time on the trip, but other than our memories we don't have images to remember it with. So I would recommend you re-think the trip, find places you want to see each day, ride to that area and then enjoy the area. Don't do miles just to do miles, that makes it boring IMO.

As a side note, on this trip we had temps from 90-105, it was in July. We both have cooling vests. you soak them in water and wear them under your gear. They saved us and kept our core temp down. When not needed and dry they roll up small and fit in a bag easy.
 

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one more suggestion i would make is if you have access to a pickup or a bike trailer, you can truck or trailer it from toronto to billings montana or sturgis in 2 days instead of 3-4 days, then you have 10 days to ride in the fun parts
i've gone across the country before and if i did it again i'd truck/trailer it to the other side of the great plains

good luck
 

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There are some areas I already know have twists and hills, mainly from Ontario to Manitoba. Once you hit Manitoba it's pretty much flat, so those miles should be a lot less fatiguing - so in the little spreadsheet I made I said that instead of 700km's that day 500km's would be more realistic.

I commented above, but I planned on 7 hours a day, with 1 full day with no riding. That may mean returning home a day early, or it may mean fixing a flat - but I thought a day with nothing planned would help out some issues I come across.

Do you have any tips about 2+ day trips from where you worked? I'm trying to picture what I'd need on the trip too. I forgot to mention that in my first post. Like chain lube, multi tools, tire repair, etc. What kinds of things would I be expected to carry?
We'd do one and two week trips. I used to take an extra tool kit (Cruz Tools do a great little kit in a soft bag), multitool, puncture kit with extra CO2 cyls, and a bottle of lube for the chain oiler. Never needed any of it, but I bet I would have if I didn't have it.
 
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The last hotel I stayed at the lady checking me in told me I could park my bike on the side walk under the awning by the front door if I wanted to without being asked, which I thought was nice. Every time I've asked I've never been told no.
 
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I have taken two such trips but both have been on FJ09 instead of the FZ. Both of my trips consisted of 5500-6000 miles at the end. I also camped out with the option of staying in a hotel if I wanted or if the weather decided it for me. I took two weeks both times and had plenty of time. Of course I was going for the ride and to see a great number of things but never stayed anywhere to long. I used OEM side bags and camped out. I also used a two dry bags across the back of the bike with my stuff inside those. I bought a tire repair kit which included pump and repair items just in case. It can be powered by a battery tender lead if you don't have a 12v adapter. Prior to taking on mile and miles I had prob only rode 300 tops in a day. On my trips I would range from 250- 800 just depending on how I was feeling and where the next best place was. I mostly used KOA campgrounds as they are all over and have laundry, stores, showers and nice safe places to park your bike. Tent, sleeping mat, clothes, extra shoes and lights all in bags on the bike not weighted down much at all. I figure worst case if it was to get bad I would just turn around and go home. If bike breaks and can't fix it then maybe rent a truck and drive it back home. I also went by myself and plan on doing another run around the country in 2020. Gas station are almost always less than 100 miles or less apart. But then again I took the FJ which has better mileage than the FZ. If I was taking the FZ I think I would consider one of those rotopax just in case. On my travels I saw several people using them on bikes. Nothing quite like riding all day and sleeping under the stars. It's amazing and if I can do it anyone can that is for sure.
 
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