Driving on Hills - Do's and Don'ts!!


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TSIVipul

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Disclaimer: All the views mentioned completely mine and are based upon my own personal experience and hence one can expect some deviations depending upon driving style, traffic behavior etc. Rest I have tried to keep shortest possible in every chapter.

Hello guys, after the successful completion of my car buying series(based on financial issues), which has three threads viz..
Now we can hope that you have chosen the right car for you. So now here is the new series which is no more boring finance related thread, instead this time its again a new series which is based on driving, driving, driving and DRIVING-The thing we people love at its best.
In this new series I have mentioned various tips and tricks (purely based on my own driving experience ) which can be useful while driving on various kind of roads…err…various environments. This new series is based on how to change your driving style and some other factors which makes the difference between driving and good driving. Here we will discuss some points which if kept into consideration while driving in different environments like crowded cities, open highways or twisty hills can help you enjoy your drive at its best and of course very safely. So this series will comprise of four threads:-
  • Driving in City - Do’s and Don’ts.
  • Driving on highways - Do’s and Don’ts.
  • Driving in hills - Do’s and Don’ts.
  • High speed driving - Do’s and Don’ts.

So as the thread title suggests, this is the third thread in the series and is called..
Driving in.jpg


So let’s move ahead, once again in same style..what style? Its chapterwise, so the chapters which we are going to discuss are as follows:-
  • Know the road and traffic behavior
  • Know your car
  • Know yourself
  • Be patient – Jinhe jaldi thi, who ja chuke
  • Some basic rules
  • Going uphill – what to do
  • The tricky thing 1 – Hairpins
  • The tricky thing 2 – going downhill
  • Heavy vehicles – Better you respect them
  • Some special cases
 
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Thread Starter #2

TSIVipul

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Re: Driving in Hills - Do's and Don'ts!!

Chapter 1
Know the road and Traffic behavior
Are you married? If yes, then just do tell me if you married the girl without knowing her at all or you first of all saw her, talked to her, knew her and then gave the decision?? Same is the story of our single but committed guys. Now the question arises that what is the relation of married life or single life and knowing the road? Eh, relation may not be there but you have just gone through a small example of ‘do-after-you-know’ approach. It’s always better to know the road you are going to travel instead of facing many surprises with wheel in your hand and right foot on gas pedal. So what all one needs to know before travelling, let’s have a look at it:
  • Type of road: The ‘road’ is never enough to describe a road because it can be of any type varying from ‘no road’ to a good 4 or 6 or even 8 lane expressway. So before leaving it is always better to know what sort of road you are going to travel on whether it is a typical narrow hilly road or a well laid dual carriageway(like most of the hilly roads in our country are these days) or it is some kind of expressway like many of you people have seen on the ‘ghat’ section of Mumbai-Pune expressway.
  • The altitude: If you are going to hills then knowing the altitude through which the road passes is very important. If the road passes through normal altitude then no issues but if the road passes through some very high altitudes then you and your car both need some adjustments too according to the road.
  • Is it prone to landslides? Knowing this is really important because if the road you are going to travel is prone to landslides then better you ravel during day time and avoid travelling during rainy season or snowfall.
Now you know the road, second thing you need to know is the traffic behavior of the place, it is very easy to know it. Drive for 10-15 kms and keep observing the local vehicles and the way they give signals, act to them etc. This way by simple observations you will know the traffic behavior.
Knowing these two things will help you keep safe throughout the journey and joyfulness is a part of hilly driving(as always).[:)]


Chapter 2
Know your car
Natthulal ji is these days lying in the hospital because his brand new Honda City is lying in A.S.S.. Now why this happened? Actually he simply challenged his neighbor that his Honda City can also take the Manali – Leh highway like his Safari took and at the end half of the underbelly of his City is either out of shape or is missing!!
So what is the fault of Mr. Natthulaal? The only mistake he did was that despite of knowing the road he selected a wrong car. Of course, selection of right car is also as much important as much is knowing the road. So what all one need to consider to know their car and then deciding if the car is fit for journey or not. So the factors needed to be considered are:
  • Mileage: Very high mileage cars are better avoided for good hilly trips(from good I mean good and long) because as compared to our daily plain roads the car takes far more beating while being driven on hills and load on engine is also on the higher side.
  • Power delivery: I still remember, once I helped an Alto driving uncle drive his Alto on an incline, all he was doing was trying to move ahead and getting bogged down. Why this was happening? Simple, because he was trying to drive in a rev range where engine was not powerful enough to make the car climb with full load. So it is important for one to know the power delivery of the car. It is simple for any N/A petrol it is always better to keep in higher mid range or top end(even in mid range if incline is not steep) and for diesel car owners it is always good to keep in mid range or above and same is for turbo petrol drivers(anywhere above mid range).
  • Steering response, braking and handling: It is important to keep the steering response into consideration and the way it alters with the speed so as to keep up with the demand of the situation or the road to give the steering input. Braking abilities of the car should be well known so that whenever you need the application of brakes you do it just perfectly, neither more nor less than required. Handling consists of body roll and suspension movements because in hills you can never take the risk of playing with dynamics. Why? Simple, there is always a gap of some meters between driving and flying..err..felling.
  • Behavior under various conditions: It consists of the behavior of the car under wet conditions or slippery conditions or extreme cold etc. At least one should know if his car will even start next morning in the cold climate(if the place is cold) or how it will behave in slight slippery condition and how to control the things well.[:)]
 
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TSIVipul

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Re: Driving in Hills - Do's and Don'ts!!

Chapter 3
Know yourself
Ramlal is still lying in an army camp on Manali – Leh highway suffering from the altitude sickness. What was his mistake? His mistake was very simple, he took the tourists in his taxi to that altitude without knowing that he himself is prone to altitude sickness.
People suffer with various problems during hilly drives, biggest and most common of them being the vomiting issues followed by gastric issues, headache and altitude sickness if the altitude is high. So before going to that lovely hilly drive one need to know himself, if the person is prone to issues like vomitting(I agree I am(sometimes) and hence I drive for whole way…this saves me, really) then it is always better to take the suitable medicines etc before going on the drive and same is for issues like headache, gastric etc. In case a person is prone to suffer from altitude sickness and has a complain of headache, breathing problems etc while going to high altitudes then either the person must avoid going to such high altitudes or the person must take the suitable medication for the purpose because it is always very important being in pink of health for any hilly drives.
So before going to the hilly drive it is important for one to know himself, if he/she is physically fit for change in climate, maybe extreme climates and high altitudes as well as long tiring hilly drives too.
A word of advise: Eating(light food or chips or snacks) and drinking enough water is very important for any hilly drives, especially if you are suffering from any of the above mentioned problems. Many people have been seen refusing to eat only because they are suffering from vomiting issues and hence end up being half dead at the end of the journey which was actually very joyful.

Chapter 4
Be patient – Jinhe jaldi thi, wo ja chuke
As the name of chapter itself says, one needs to be patient during the hilly drives because ‘jinhe jaldi thi, wo ja chuke’(Those who were in hurry, they have already gone). Now where they have gone? Even I also don’t know.
It’s no doubt that driving at slight quicker speeds on hilly roads has a fun of itself especially if you are driving a dynamically good car with a powerful engine(I myself is addicted of cornering at good speeds in sedans) but despite of being very joyful, it is very dangerous too. Hilly roads are no 4 lane expressways with enough space to rectify your minor faults at good speeds, instead in the hills you may end up either hitting the mountain or an another vehicle(oncoming one) if you go careless at any speed(not only quick ones) and worse can be the situation where your car may go flying…err..felling(yes it is felling, not flying) into the cliff.
  • The biggest mantra of safe and joyful drive in hills is ‘slow and steady wins the race’. Now the race is not of reaching the finish line before the driver of that Scorpio who has just overtaken your City but it is the race of enjoying the drive. Be slow and enjoy the scenery and keep on driving in your controlling limits as well as the limits of the car. As we say “kabhi nahi se der bhali(better late than never)”. It is always better if you decide to drive at permissible speed limits and keep safe and sound throughout the journey.
  • And yes, being slow won’t only keep you safe but it will keep your passengers comfortable too. If you drive at high speed then most of your passengers will end up either vomiting or complaining about headache(C’mon yaar there are many forces working hard on their body during hard cornering) this is something you can observe on any of your hilly drive, but take care that you do it in final kilometers else the whole drive will be spoilt!! And added to safety and comfort, how can we forget the FE. In the hilly drives there is quite high variation in FE if one does normal and spirited driving and hence being slow can give you three advantages Safety, Comfort and FE. Eh, you can spend those XX liters of fuel during your daily office commutes after the trip..[:)]

Chapter 5
Some basic rules
One of the favorite lines of ours when we are/were in college is ‘Rules are meant to be broken’ and without any doubt I can say that we followed it religiously, in fact we keep following it religiously but same can never be the case of driving, especially when you are on a good twisty hilly road, so here is a set of some basic and very easy to follow rules which will simply enhance the safety of yours:
  • Keep left: Very simple and evergreen rule of driving it is(In India or any country with right hand driven vehicles).In the plains you can for once break this rule and still expect yamaraj to be merciful on you but in hills this can be result in anything from minor dent to life threatening situations. Why? Reason is simple, the person who is on the another side of the turn is already on the left and is expecting you too to be on left side and if you are not on left then be ready to get your car kissed by the vehicle on the another side of the turn..and yes, that vehicle can be a bus or truck too.
  • Ascending vehicle has the right of way: This rule is more of your etiquettes and discipline. Yes, the driver of the vehicle coming up will apply hard brakes for sure to save the collision due to the piece of foolishness shown by you but now if he is carrying a good load then he has a lot of hard work to do to make his vehicle move ahead, in fact if the vehicle for once start moving back then it can result in even life threatening situations too. So it is always better to let the ascending vehicle enjoy it’s right of way.
  • Flashing and honking: Flashing is important during night drives in hills because this given an idea to the driver of the vehicle on the other side of the turn that you are also on the road. Rule is simple, you are driving and approaching a turn, if you can see that there are the lights of an another vehicle also felling on the same turn which you are approaching then it is always advisable to flash your lights once or twice and honk for a while. This will make the another guy attentive and he will leave your side of the road for you to pass if he is moving on your side or in the middle of the road. Similar is the application of honking during daytime, the basic purpose is simple : ‘tell him that you are coming’ none else.
  • Don’t follow too close while going uphill: This is one very important rule, if you are following any vehicle very close then if by any chance the vehicle gets bogged down at any point then there are chances that the vehicle will once move back and even hit yours before moving ahead. This rule should be more than strictly followed in case of buses and trucks especially if the truck is loaded and if the truck is overloaded then this becomes a hard and fast rule. Why? Because if by any chance the truck or bus gets bogged down and starts moving back then only yamaraj can save you..none else.[:)]
 
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TSIVipul

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Re: Driving in Hills - Do's and Don'ts!!

Chapter 6
Going uphill – what to do?
Going uphill is always fun, especially if you have a good and powerful car as the grip levels are always fantastic and it is very easy to catch some good speeds and enjoy some really hard cornering but for that or even for going uphill at a normal pace, one needs to be quite accurate in selection of right gear, correct usage of throttle and the shifting times and techniques must be correct too...
  • Selection of right gear: Your XUV is never going to climb to Mussoorie in it’s 5th or 6th gear but then there is no sensibility in pushing the car throughout the way in first gear and keeping on redlining it. So the crux is that the gear you are driving in must be selected in such a way that neither the vehicle gets bogged down nor the engine gets strained. This can be any gear ranging from first to even top gear(if you find a good straight stretch) all you need to take care is of just two points, no bogging down and no straining of engine.
  • Right gear and throttle usage: Okay, we have just talked of selection of right gear, now here is the technique of doing so and the technique is very simple. You are driving uphill in 4th gear and suddenly the incline increases even more, you will feel that revs have started felling, now this is the time to shift down when the vehicle is already having enough momentum to keep moving in the gear you shift to. Instead if you wait for speed to fell even more or revs fell even more then you will end up bogging down for sure. Similarly if you are going downhill then shifting down should be done before the vehicle starts catching good speeds in the higher gear you are driving in. Similar is the throttle usage, while going uphill the throttle should be pressed quite good as per the gear and speed you need while during coming downhill the throttle is better left and brakes should be befriended.
  • Shifting time and technique: I have seen a lot of people who know that they have to shift down but still they end up bogging down when they were trying to shift, what is the reason? Simple – wrong shifting time. While going uphill or attacking a hairpin, it is always advisable to shift at the time the vehicle has momentum, once your vehicle has started loosing momentum than you are in a small problem because as soon as you will press your clutch, the vehicle will most probably stop and if not then you have to shift with lightening fast speed..haha, which normally results in unwanted results like wrong shifting or bogging down. While coming downhill, it is always better to shift when vehicle has less momentum else it will result in rising of revs to dangerously high levels.
    So right time is when your vehicle has enough momentum(less when coming downhill) and technique is simple ‘be quick and precise’.
Okay, you have done it all but still due to the foolish bus driver driving in front of your vehicle has applied the brakes and as a result you are bogged down or stopped. Now how to move ahead? Simple is the method, if the vehicle is equipped with hill ascent/descent control then you need to just shift to first and start moving ahead but if there is no hill ascent/descent control then you have to rely on your handbrake to keep you in the place. Now after applying the handbrake all you need to do is shift in first gear and give small throttle input, be ready to leave the handbrake too with button pressed. Now with small throttle input start leaving the clutch slowly. When you feel that slight force is building up which is trying to move the vehicle ahead(it is very easy to feel that) then just remove the handbrake and give throttle input, that also quite good and if you have to crawl then give slight input and keep on following the same instructions.[:)]

Chapter 7
The tricky thing 1 – HAIRPINS

First of all what are hairpins? Look at the pic below and the parts in circles are hairpins:
1.JPG

Basically these are the very high(near about 360 degree) turns made on mountain words to make the road move up at the ends of mountain. These are having a special property and that special property is that if you are on the inner edge of the hairpin then you will have to face a very steep incline and if you are on the outer edge of the road then you will have to face a normal incline nothing very much steep. So here are some mantras to negotiate hairpins while going uphill or coming downhill:
  • Shift down and then attack: As the words suggest, before attacking the hairpin it is better you shift down. Why? Reason is simple, hairpins can’t be taken at any good speeds instead the speeds fells far lower than at what you was driving before hitting the hairpin, by any chance if you are fast then either you will end up flying or you will end up hitting the mountain and I am sure none of the two mentioned is your choice. Since the hairpins are on the steeper side so it’s always better that you brake and shift down before hitting the hairpin.
  • While going up: The rule is very simple, just three words you have to follow: Shift – push – turn. What this signifies? Well simple it is, first shift down then push and then hit the hairpin.
  • While coming down: The story changes here, now you have to follow the rule of withdraw – turn – push. What this rule says? Simple, leave the throttle before hairpin(since you are coming downhill, so you are expected to be in a lower gear) turn your vehicle and push after the hairpin is done.
  • Take the outer edge: Taking the inner edge will have two disadvantages, first is that you will face very steep incline or decline and second is that you won’t get enough time as well as space to take the complete turn. And hence for the sake of space, safety and comfort of driving it is always advisable to take the hairpins through their outer edge.
  • In case you encounter a bus or truck: Long vehicles find it quite tricky to take the hairpins and hence in case you encounter one taking the hairpin then it’s better if you stop your vehicle at the sufficient distance to let the vehicle pass and if you are very close then it’s better if you take the outer edge of the road and get past the vehicle but yes, if by any chance you come in front of the vehicle then it’s you who will have to reverse(most probably).
  • Slippery conditions: Many times during monsoon you can encounter hairpins with muddy or slippery conditions, in such case keep strict and don’t encounter the inner edge at any condition and be steady at the throttle, if you by chance give throttle input then your tail will either go out or your nose will turn(depending if vehicle is FWD or RWD), I have personally experienced this in a Swift and it is really very tricky and scary too. So rule is simple, keep on outer edge and be steady at throttle.[:)]
 
Thread Starter #5

TSIVipul

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Re: Driving in Hills - Do's and Don'ts!!

Chapter 8
The tricky thing 2 – going downhill
Going downhill sounds to be quite good and it’s fuel efficient too but it can be tricky too, especially if the vehicle you are driving is heavy like an SUV loaded with seven passengers.
While driving downhill, the gravity plays its role and tries to increase your speed significantly, so the first thing you need to take care is of speed control and next comes the steering control.
  • Speed control: While coming downhill, you can control the speed of your vehicle by a simple method, keep in lower gear and assist the engine braking using the brakes. By keeping in lower gear, the engine itself will control the speed to an extent and in case the load is heavier then you can apply light brakes too to assist the engine and this will keep your vehicle slow enough to safely move ahead. Some people follow a practice of neutral driving, though it is also acceptable if the decline is not very steep and the weight is also less but if by any chance the speed increases dangerously and weight is good then the inertia you are carrying can give some life threatening results.
  • Steering control: Always remember that body roll increases significantly while coming downhill and any high steering input can give fatal results. The inertia of your vehicle mated to force of gravity will always try to send your vehicle flying in the cliff and hence while coming downhill always prefer low steering inputs if the speeds are on higher side and high inputs should be given only and only if the vehicle is slow enough to bear them.

And yes, the brakes are never as efficient as going downhill or driving on plain roads and hence it’s better if you avoid hard braking situations while coming downhill because you can’t afford driving a car heavy car under hard braking on a steep hilly road even if it is equipped with ABS, the inertia of the vehicle will easily show it’s effect and hence the best and safest way is to keep slow and steady.[:)]

Chapter 9
Heavy vehicles – Better you respect them
Heavy vehicles or say buses and trucks are better respected on the hilly roads. I know that you are used to of bullying down that truck driver in traffic jams using your Fortuner but on the hilly roads the game changes drastically, no doubt he will get bullied down and he is still scared of you but his truck is not. If by any chance you come in front of that devil which is carrying tons of goods, then even that scared driver is helpless and the devil will crush the hell out of your car and hence it’s better if you respect these vehicles, especially on hilly roads.
  • Heavy vehicles deserve right of way: As you can read, heavy vehicles are better given the way on the hilly roads. Why? If they are ascending an incline then the driver will never want to stop as it will result in loss of momentum and once they lose their momentum then it is very - very tough for them to keep moving ahead again. Especially if it is a loaded truck!! So actually you can block the way of the vehicle and stop it but now you have left that poor driver in a tricky situation and worst can happen if that vehicle starts moving back, maybe the car it will crush is yours.
  • If the heavy vehicle is coming downhill: There was a rule that “ascending vehicle has right of way”. Well then here is an exception, if the descending vehicle is a heavy one and ascending is a car or light one then it’s safer to give the right of way to descending one. Why? Because it really can’t brake..yes there are brakes and they are applied too but the result is not at all favorable. If by any chance your car comes in front of a truck coming downhill and carrying some tonnes of goods then blocking it’s way is like fixing your appointment with yamaraj in no time. Why? Neither the driver will be able to stop it nor it can really stop, secondly if your good luck is too good then the vehicle can even drag and set your car flying off the cliff before stopping.
  • And the dangers involved in following a heavy vehicle close are already mentioned in ‘some basic rules’ part. So, I hope now you may have understood why heavy vehicles are needed to be respected, it’s not for any reason but for our as well as other’s safety.[:)]

Chapter 10
Some special cases
Well the above mentioned are the cases when you are driving on an average hilly road, so let us add some more tricky situations here:
High altitudes:
  • First of all check your car thoroughly especially for coolant and all filters. And don’t forget to add antifreeze to the coolant.
  • At high altitudes, it’s not only we but our car also suffers from altitude sickness and hence a good downfall in performance can be observed. So to keep your car running, it is always better if you keep in a lower gear.
  • Basically such altitudes either have snow covered mountains or dryness(like in Ladakh etc) if the surroundings are dry then be careful and either carry a spare air filter or cover your grille with some fine cloth like dupatta or saree of ladies which can filter the dust and not let it enter your air filter. Why? Because the dust can get it choked.
  • Keep an eye on the engine temperature regularly and it’s better if you carry puncture repair kits, some fuel etc with you as at such remote places there are very less chances of finding any kind of assistance like fuel pump, puncture repair etc.
  • Be prepared for cold starts(if you do a night stay) and it’s better if you park your car on an incline so that you can get it ‘push - started ‘ easily on the next morning. BTW, the best technique is to keep the vehicle started for sometime after a fixed time interval so that you are saved from a cold start.

Fog driving:
  • Generally there is very less fog in mountains but then if it comes then it is very dense too and hence if you encounter fog on a hilly road then first of all follow some basic fog driving tips like driving in low beam, keep slow, use wipers and demisters accordingly and don’t turn the hazard lights ON until you are stopped.
  • In case the fog is very dense then it’s better if you roll down the windows and try to hear the things and of course those things must not be the music from your ICE system and hence it’s better muted that time and it’s always better to have a sensible navigator with you who can keep a strict eye on the road like you and keep on guiding you of the way as well as pointing out the dangers too.

Heavy downpour during night:
  • I am personally scared of this one, really scared as the visibility is nearly zero and all you can spot in front of your vehicle is crystals. Okay, in this case also you need to follow all the tips same as those of driving in fog, but yes..don’t open the windows of your car else those leather seat covers of yours will work as a remembrance of that drive until you change them.

Snow driving:
  • Though this is very joyful but it needs some special attention too. So what points to be paid attention are? Let us discuss them:
  • Slow and steady wins the race: Be slow and steady, neither hard acceleration nor hard braking as both will result in loss of control only.
  • Follow the footprints of other vehicles and try to keep your tyres on those tyre marks only as those will be the only places where your tyres will be in contact with the road.
  • If there are no footprints and the route is unknown then better is to do a recce by walking and then move ahead and best is to get a local guide or local taxi/bus driver who can guide you of the way.
  • If possible then add antifreeze to the coolant.


Well…that’s all from my side. Now buckle up and go for that hilly drive.. Waiting to hear from you people.[:)]
 
Thread Starter #11

TSIVipul

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Nice thread TSIVipul: and the picture shown by you above is also known as " Kainchi mod" Scissor Curve. 5 star rating for this thread. [:D]
Thanks buddy, I guess you live in Shimla, then why don't you drop any suggestions from your side too which you feel have been missed in the thread. This will be really helpful with your hilly-driving-experience.

Great thread,five star rated [:)]
I am already big fan of your post, I wish there was option to select 10 star out of 5 star. You have potential.
Once again a very informative thread. 5 star thread. Thanks Vipul.
Okay, so it looks like finally you people have given me passing marks. Thanks friends...[:D]
 
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Great info buddy! Its really useful for first timers on a hilly drive. Its my personal experience - Though I had done quite number of highway drives before my first hill drive; it was a different experience all together when I drove around the hills for the first time! Thanks for sharing
 
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TSIVipul

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Great info buddy! Its really useful for first timers on a hilly drive.
Thanks buddy, all I did was write what I personally follow while on hilly drives and if first timers find it useful then all in all..I'll feel myself lucky to provide such info.

Its my personal experience - Though I had done quite number of highway drives before my first hill drive; it was a different experience all together when I drove around the hills for the first time! Thanks for sharing
Eh, I still remember the day when I drove on hills for the first time. It was a very blissful experience and of course many doubts were cleared too. At the end I was left with just one sentence - "It was fun". The way the dynamics(dynamic behavior of car) and grip levels keep changing with the road is simply fantastic and worth experiencing. BTW, I personally find driving in hills easier because at least people follow the rules and traffic is comparatively sparse if we look at our cities or highways.
 
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Very good and helpful writeup.[drive]
Many hill roads has many Tunnels, so please add points related to 'Handling Tunnels' .
 
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