Feb 21, 2023
This week we sit down with Patrick Engleman founder of the Lu Lacko Wyco Hundo gravel event in Pennsylvania. In its 10th running this year, LLWH is a staple of the Pennsylvania gravel scene.
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Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos:
[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport
I'm your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don't need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist.
[00:00:28] Craig Dalton: This week on the show. We welcome Patrick angle. Then from Lou LACO Waco. Hundo. It's a real tongue twister of an event. Out in Pennsylvania. That's been going on for 11 years. This is the 10th edition as Patrick will describe another one of those great events. That's been flying a little bit under the radar.
Unless you lived in that Pennsylvania and mid Atlantic area where it's on everybody's to do list. I wanted to get you guys to know this event because it's another one of those great events. That's started by someone who just loves the community that they ride in. And wanted to highlight it and bring friends.
Patrick's done a great job of growing the event and talk to anybody in that region. And they'll definitely reference some of the memorable experiences. They've had over the years with this event. Before we jump in, I need to thank this week. Sponsor athletic greens.
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Would that important business out of the way, let's jump right into my conversation with Patrick.
[00:03:14] Craig Dalton: Patrick, welcome to the show. Oh, thanks for having me. I'm excited to have this conversation. I'm gonna make my attempt at pronouncing the event name first, and I'm just gonna take my best guess. Okay. Try it. Lulac Waco
[00:03:28] Patrick Engleman: Hyundai. That's kill, you're killing it for, especially for a west coaster. Uh, that was perfect.
[00:03:32] Craig Dalton: Um, I don't think I could do it fast. It took me, I like trained myself several times prior to hitting record to say that
[00:03:39] Patrick Engleman: it's all part of the. Right is how many times you have to repeat it to say it. And also it has been shortened to lulac, uh, just because it's much easier for folks. But it's the lulac, uh, it's the Luzerne, Lakana and Wyoming counties and it's a hundred miles.
Uh, so that's kind of where it started was the three counties that we ride through and I just kind of pulled from there. And started the name, and actually I started the, I got the name if you wanna know this a little bit. Um, I was resting at the top of a long climb and there happened to be carvings of Native Americans, like wood carvings of Native Americans on, I guess someone's driveway.
And there were three of them. And part of the genesis of this was I, I looked out of the over the valley and said, what would they have? Of what I'm seeing right now and, and kind of thought about them as three separate people and them thinking about their account, like represented at that time and you know, all these other stuff.
So that's kind of where the name came from and, you know, my little inspiration point, uh, out somewhere in the middle of nowhere right on the bike, . So. Nice,
[00:04:37] Craig Dalton: nice. Well, we're gonna get into that a bit and it's, uh, is it the 10th year or the 11th year coming up?
[00:04:42] Patrick Engleman: So it, because of Covid, I've obviously, we know it's the, this is the 11th year, it's the 10th ride.
So we, we lost a ride.
[00:04:49] Craig Dalton: We lost a ride in there. Gotcha. And from having Dave Pryor on the podcast and from previously listening to Celine talk on podcasts, I'd heard the name on our number of occasions in the context of like, oh, these are the ones we do every year in Pennsylvania. They're just part of what everybody does, and it's the kind of coming together of the community.
So we'll get into that, but let's talk first. Where are you
[00:05:18] Patrick Engleman: in the world? So I'm currently sitting, uh, in a town called WinCo, Pennsylvania, which is just in the, uh, suburbs of Philadelphia, the northeast suburbs of Philadelphia.
[00:05:27] Craig Dalton: Okay. And where is
[00:05:28] Patrick Engleman: the event? The event starts in Pittston, Pennsylvania, my hometown, uh, which is the northeast, which is the northeast corner of Pennsylvania.
Uh, not, not just northeast, uh, suburbs of Philadelphia. So
[00:05:40] Craig Dalton: you're drawing, if geographically you're drawing it sounds like. riders in New York, riders in Eastern and western pa riders in DC jersey maybe can all get you within two to four
[00:05:52] Patrick Engleman: hours. Yep. Yeah, generally, um, we usually say the Megapoli, so like the Boston and DC uh, or Bo Boston and now Northern North Carolina seems to be where it's at.
And then Western and then way some, some folks, our, uh, one of our folks, uh, is, comes in from Alaska every year. Uh, but he's a, he's a local, but he does come in from Alaska every year. It's like one of his trips. Yeah,
[00:06:13] Craig Dalton: nice. Stepping back for a minute, let's just start, set the stage for kind of your background as a cyclist.
Um, you mentioned where you grew up and, and some of the love that you found early on as a child. .
[00:06:26] Patrick Engleman: Yeah, I mean, I, I grew up, you know, like riding like everybody, I'm, I'm the youngest of all my cousins, so I got the hand me downs of the hand me downs with the hand me downs. So I, I wrote anything there was, and that's kinda what we did in my neighborhood.
Like, I was very lucky to have lots of friends in my neighborhood and we just rode and spent a lot of time in the woods. Uh, I grew up with just a ba My backyard is, It goes into, you know, so, so far when we were kids, it was so many miles of woods and, you know, there's just so much to explore. So I just grew up riding mount, you know, we were riding mountain bikes on our bmx, uh, when we were, you know, little kids.
And also, yeah. Um, part of my riding background is, is my, my dad didn't drive, uh, for a lot of my life and he didn't, uh, for lots of reasons, but where I grew up, there's not a lot of mass transit. Um, so we had a little, we had like a bus, like every hour. Um, so. He rode. He rode or walked. So I rodee or walked because I, there's no other way to get around.
My mom sometimes worked mid. Yeah. Uh, uh, second shift. So like we just rode all the time. Yeah. What,
[00:07:22] Craig Dalton: what was, uh, you know, as you got a little bit older, was there a Pennsylvania cycling scene that started to draw you in? Or were you like many athletes you. You know, cycling as we think of it now, really wasn't part of your life until, you know, your twenties or what have you.
[00:07:37] Patrick Engleman: I I, I was in it pretty young. I mean, I think because, because of where I grew up and there was a, a decent, um, mountain bike scene, uh, growing. I, I, I grew up you high school in the mid nineties, and I was very lucky to find, uh, a great, a great local bike shop that kind of took me in as like their like baby brother.
Uh, they were all in their twenties and a little older and racing mountain bikes, but I was. The shop rat who wouldn't go home and, you know, could also kind of hang with them. And that's where it all, where it all kind of came from. So I was riding mountain bikes in high school and, you know, continued on.
Uh, and then while once I went to college, uh, I became, I became a bike messenger. I went to Temple University in Philly and I became a bike messenger and kind of got in that world while still racing mountain bikes and riding mountain bikes and, um, have kind of stayed with it, worked in shops and did all the things.
It's definitely been a part of my life for a long.
[00:08:26] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's something, you know, it's, you know, people on the West coast may not know this, but Pennsylvania in general has such a great cycling community. And to your point, I was in school in Washington, DC in that early nineties period in college and all the mountain bike racing.
A lot of it we, what we did was go up to Pennsylvania at, to race mountain bikes. Mm-hmm. , it was great and so many. Just great like community style events where the terrain was awesome, but the community was even better. Mm-hmm. . Yeah, we had
[00:08:58] Patrick Engleman: a lot, we had a lot of that. We were very lucky to have a lot of great events and great places to ride.
I grew up not far from Jim Thorpe, which is, you know, any, any, any person of our vintage. Here's Jim Thorpe in the East Coast, knows how legendary it was. And, you know, uh, UCCI wasn't, is not far from where, from me and like, you know, just a bunch of really classic places. But also, like I said, my backyard is pretty amazing , so it still is.
[00:09:20] Craig Dalton: And then as you, as you transitioned to your kind of professional career, were you. Kind of racing mountain bikes once a year. Do you define the road? What was your kind of transition in those, those later
[00:09:30] Patrick Engleman: years? Uh, those later years? I was, so I was, uh, teaching actually in Northern Virginia, uh, like we were talking about.
And I, um, I ride to work. I mean, and I, and I was working, I was working at a shop part-time. I'm a teacher, so I was like, make a couple bucks and I had the summer off and I'm just used to being a shop rat. So I was working at City Bikes in DC Nice. And kind of stuck, kind of stuck with it. I've raced cross for a, a little while there.
Um, still once in a while I'll line up on a mountain bike, but I, a lot of my time now is just kind of riding with friends and, you know, checking out new places to go and, you know, traveling a bit. Um, I also mentioned, I, I helped found the Pennsylvania Inters Classic Cycling League, so it takes a lot of, uh, a lot of my time riding is kind of transitioned into bringing more kids in, in more, more adults.
Uh, I was coaching, coaching the coaches for a long time, uh, so bringing a lot of the coaches into it and, you know, kind of instructing that. So stuck with it and, but I've done a bunch of different. Right on.
[00:10:21] Craig Dalton: And by the way, just thank you for doing the work with Scholastic Mountain biking. I think it's great.
I mean, obviously here in Northern California we've got this great Nike scene out here and yeah. Gosh, I wish it existed when, when I was growing up. Yeah. And I know that. Takes a lot of effort from a coaching perspective, from an infrastructure perspective, and it takes someone to just hold up their hand and be willing to put in the work.
So thank you for doing that.
[00:10:45] Patrick Engleman: Yeah, no problem. I'm, I'm, I'm, it's, it's, it's, it's, seriously, like I, I wrote a long time ago what my dream job would be, and it was teaching mountain biking. and I got to do it, you know, I got, I got to do it for, you know, a few thousand kids and a bunch of coaches. So I, I definitely got to live my dream.
So I'm, now I step back a little bit to do some more work on this, but I'm still on the board of, uh, board of advisors for the Pennsylvania League, and I work a little bit with, with Nica as a whole and do some of that stuff. Cause I, I love it. You know, I love, I, I'm, I'm a teacher, so I love, I obviously love kids, but I love mountain biking too, and I get to do both, um, you know,
[00:11:15] Craig Dalton: both passionate.
Yeah. You know, it sounds like from, from your description and all the different types of bikes you were riding, having a cyclocross bike, you know, 20 years ago or whenever you did, did the emergence of gravel, as we talk about it today, was it just one of those things that you'd already been doing that effectively on those bikes?
[00:11:34] Patrick Engleman: Uh, yeah, effectively, I mean, I was riding, um, I was riding, we got invited to a Rafa ride, uh, and we, we rode some of actually where, what an event Dave Pryor promotes now called Monkey Night Fight. Um, at the time he wasn't, he wasn't the promoter yet, but we rode some of those trails and some of those, uh, places in, in Lehigh Valley, uh, that were dirt roads.
And we got to go up all these coal, these coal mountains and see all this cool stuff. And we're doing it on essentially road bikes, uh, road bikes with some those giant 25 CC tires. Do you remember those giant. Yeah, so I, I LULAC was actually founded on a, a gravel, or sorry, they can't, gravel. Yeah, they didn't exist yet.
It was founded on a 25 CC touring bike. Uh, my indie fab touring bike is what I went out on because it had the most clearance, uh, to fit the biggest tires. And those tires, like I said at the time, were 25 c. And then of course, I, I had a cross, a cross bike and I'm like, oh, I could take this one out too. And, uh, and, and check it out on, on the cross bike.
And that definitely helped, especially when disc brakes come in and, you know, a wide range of gearing and those sorts of things. But yeah, I've, I've done, I've done it all with the, the, the prospect. I'm like, this is the best thing ever. And now we and now we're out. Where, where we.
[00:12:43] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. And that's kind of what I was getting at.
You know, thinking about starting the event 11 years ago, you know, the equipment obviously wasn't there. What was the motivation to create the event and what was the type of terrain that you took the riders on in that first year?
[00:13:02] Patrick Engleman: Uh, . The first, so the first year, uh, the, the motivation, I'll ask the fir the first part of your question.
The motivat. Was, I, I love Northeastern Pennsylvania. I don't happen to live there, but like my, I still call it home if I stand going home. Almost all my friends now I'm going to Northeastern Pennsylvania. So to, to pitched into the Scranton area. So I love it so much there, but I, and I do, I go back and visit my, my, almost my entire family's there.
Um, so I go there a lot and I love the outdoors. I've, I grew up in the outdoors and I just wanted people to come see it. Um, my friends here are, you know, they, they're suburban nights. They live around, around Philly and, you know, they're kind of used to that suburban lifestyle. And I was like, let me take 'em up to where I'm from.
Cause I would tell 'em all these fantastical stories of the rides and the R roads and everything else. And I'm like, Invite my buddies, you know, like to come up here and go for a ride. Uh, and that's how we got Dave and Celine. You know, there, there were the, there were two of the first 18, uh, that came out and tried it.
And then that first year, um, I initially built this to be almost like a spring classic. And because the spring classics happened around Easter, I did it for the first year, was on, on Palm Sunday. And Palm Sunday was near the end of March, and in northeastern Pennsylvania, it snows a bunch, uh, or at least it used to.
And, uh, we had snow on the sides of the road and mud and everything else. Uh, and it was, it was chilly. It was a chilly, chilly day. And that course, Had a blend of road and, and gravel or dirt. Um, there's some single track in there. Uh, we start off the ride still to this day with, with the single track that I grew up on, uh, in my neighborhood.
And then we go off onto some of those dirt roads and the, and the course has not changed dramatically. , but there were definitely some spots that were like, nah, we don't need that anymore. Or I found other roads from being out there and, and, and doing more exploring. Yeah. And other, and other riding. So, um, the course, there's some parts this, like I said, are, are still the same and that people expect to find, like we have, um, we have one waterfall or 33 miles.
So we have, uh, so I, so those, those waterfalls are, are an important part of the ride and people expect to see them and expect to, to hear them. And so like that stuff has stayed the same. And this year for our, our 10th ride, we're actually gonna go back to a little bit of the first route in a couple places.
Uh, so people can see where the first, like, first like one, two, or three years went, um, versus what it, what it is now. Plus it changes it up for, for people who just started the last couple. It's now gonna change up the course for them and kind of, uh, for me, bring a, a, you know, a nod back to the good old days.
[00:15:31] Craig Dalton: Yeah. When you think back to those first few years, and you looked around the start line, what kind of bikes were people on? Was it a, was it road bikes, cross bikes, mountain bikes.
[00:15:41] Patrick Engleman: Uh, definitely a blend. I mean, like I said, the time cross was huge and everyone raised cross and, and there were, there were a lot, a lot of folks were on cross bikes because they just didn't know what to expect.
Um, but I, I'll shout out forever. My buddy Tim Wood showed up on a single speed road bike and said, is this okay? And I'm like, I don't think so, , but you could try it. And I thought he was joke, I thought he was joking. I thought he just had like an extra bike in his car and he brought it over to me thinking it was cause I warned everybody what was, what was gonna happen to them.
And um, cuz lulac we'll probably get into a little more, but LULAC is 103 miles and almost two vertical mi, almost two vertical miles of climbing. Uh, so a single speeded road bike does, does not, uh, you know, a track bike in the city does not quite cut it. Um, but there were a few, most, most had curly bars that first year.
I don't think there was any. There was one mountain biker. Um, but every else had some, at least some form of curly bars that were, looked more like abike than anything. And, um, that had, we have, we Go ahead.
[00:16:34] Craig Dalton: I was gonna say, so that first year you brought at and a, your friends and convinced him to drive a couple hours from Philly to Experie.
What you'd been talking to them about for, for many years, I presume. Yeah. Going forward to that second year, did it become a thing where there was a registration and, you know, more, a proper event in your mind at
[00:16:52] Patrick Engleman: that point? Yeah, it ki it definitely, it, it necessitated a little bit. Like that first year I remember it saying to my mom, cause she was like, well, where's this thing gonna start?
I'm like, I don't know. The park down the street and like, I'll get a porta potty and we'll be cool. And like where people could come to the house and change. And she was like, What, you know, like, and then luckily a, a brewery that was just starting, that was actually a long story short, but basically they were, they were just starting and this, we were their first event they ever did.
And I called him like, Hey, can we do this? And the luckily, one of the co-founders used to put on Ride for the Roses in Texas and he was like, yeah, of course, no problem. And so the second year we're like, okay, we've got, we've got to go to Brewing Company, so we're good on that. Uh, we have all these things.
So it's just kind of almost like started itself as an. Where like I don't have to worry about like putting a porta potty at the park down the shape of my mom's house. I could just go to this brewery that has the, some of the infrastructure that we need. Amazing.
[00:17:45] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Amazing. So then what, what is, you know, if we talk, if you think about, um, the progression over the 11 years, what type of attendance numbers were you looking at and how did that change, like your stress level, the amount of work you had to put in and, and your enthusiasm one way or the other?
[00:18:05] Patrick Engleman: Yeah, I mean, I'm still psyched about it. I mean, it's, it's, it's, some days I'm like, oh man, like, uh, this sometimes is, there's a little bit of a monkey on my back, but like, I'm still psyched every day that I get to do this. I'm like, this is, this is cool. You know, this is, this is a lot of fun. And, you know, it's, it's, um, you know, it's nice to hear people's stories every time, every time I run into people, they tell me stories about their rides and some of the stuff.
But, um, the attendance numbers, I kept it limited because the infrastructure where I, where I'm from, and also this is put on by my family and. . And I don't, I I was listening to one of one of your podcasts with like this big professional, uh, situation and like I'm. I feel it's professional, but it definitely took a while to get there.
And, uh, and I always relied on that. And also, yeah, I have a, a background in punk rock where like, like we didn't invite, not that we weren't inviting, is that it was DIY and we were trying to keep it as low, low profile as possible. And, you know, that's, that's okay until it starts selling out in a couple minutes.
and, and so we kept it like three 50 or so for a wa for a few years, and then I bumped it up to like 500 people. Uh, and I think it was 19 is when I finally bumped it. I'm like, okay, we can take on a few more. I think I got this thing took me a little bit of like, okay, we got 300. This is easy. No problem.
And then we bumped it. We bumped it at five and it was like, and then it poured rain. and was 40 degrees, but that's a whole, that's another story for another day. Um, yeah. So, so, so this year we're, we're up again, uh, looking. 6 57, like, uh, or so. Um, and we'll see kinda where, where we get to. So at over the years, it, it, the stress level of course changes, but you learn a lot and, you know, if you, you could, you learn and adapt as you go and, and you learn every year and you also find your other mentors.
You know, I, I, I'm lucky enough to have, have mentors in this space, uh, that I'm very close with. Uh, , uh, Dave Pryor, of course I mentioned, and, and, uh, and, and some other folks, uh, Mike Koon, who puts, who now puts on grand, who put on, used to put on Sylvania Epic. Um, you know, so Mike and I are very, very close.
So like there's a few, uh, folks that are just help, help out all the time, you know, with, with anything I can bounce off of them. So I very, very lucky to know some, some pretty incredible promoters. So that, but that stress level, I've just changed processes, you know, like I have more information on my website now and like this year with some of the stuff that we've got going on.
Like I want to do more intro, like about like this kind of stuff, like the podcast like. Who are we? What are we? Because people hear about this name. Yeah. And it's promoted and their friends are doing it and they've heard, you know, it's been around and they're like, who the heck is this person? And I sometimes expect, everyone knows the whole story and people are like, yeah, I have no idea.
You know, like last year and I went to the, the whole, the race hotel the next, the next morning. And I got breakfast with some friends and I saw some folks wearing a lulac a t-shirt. And I'm like, Hey, did you guys do the ride yesterday? And they're like, yeah. I'm like, well thanks a lot. That's really cool.
And they were asking, they just started telling their story and I. adding to their, you know, adding on and telling them little bits. And then finally they go, who are you? And I was like, I'm, I'm, I'm Pat Engleman, I'm on the, I started the ride. And they're like, holy crap. Like, I didn't know, like that was you.
And, and it was cool. But it was also I think, a failure on my point that like they didn't know who it was. And not that they need to know who I am, I really care less. It's that, the fact that I feel so personal to me that I, yeah, they should know at least who I am or I should have at least said hi. And thank you so.
[00:21:22] Craig Dalton: I think it's, you know, it's so interesting as you were talking to me earlier, just saying, you know, um, how you brought this back to your hometown and it starts off on the single track you used to ride as a child, and it was really about showcasing the great terrain where you grew up to your new friends and you know, family that live couple hours away.
That's such a, like, interesting origin story and I, I feel like for me, that helps connect me with an. To kind of know why you're putting it there. Yeah, which I, which I loved. I also, I do love some of the information you've got out in the FAQs and some of the way it's phrases phrased. I'm gonna read one for you.
I am the best racer ever. I plan on winning this event. What do I get if I win?
[00:22:09] Patrick Engleman: And the, the answer is, um, they get a hatchet with their name en engraved on it, and there's only two. First two people, the fir, they get that and everybody else, uh, they do get, I, I should have grabbed one. They do get a little finisher's medal and it's, I, I sometimes call it finisher's medal.
Cause that's what people understand. And I, I basically call it like an accomplishment medal. And it's like you, it's just on the table when you come in and you check in, it's on the table and like, grab your medal if you want one. And really what it is, is did you start out and you wanna do a hundred? And you got out there and realized this is ridiculous, and I did and you did 80 and you're still psyched, grab your metal.
Did you do the whole hundred and like, you feel great, grab your medal. Did you only make it 30? Cause you got a flat, you couldn't fix it. Now you don't want that medal cause you gotta come back next year. Don't, don't take it. And that's your thing. So, and that's really what it is. It's a, you know, challenge by choice and you know, do you want to go out there and do it?
Great. And you want the metal, some people hang them up. It's really cool. I see cold displays of all the years. We, we have, it's just literally like a, a die cut me, uh, metal from a, a local fabricator. Uh, we do different colors every year and people have a whole like collection of 'em now. Uh, cause the first two years we actually had a, a jeweler, uh, the fir the first year I have one of them that's made a silver.
Uh, the first finisher's medal, there were like 20 of them. Wow. And then, uh, the second one, we had a couple, we, we were doing the jeweler, uh, for a couple years with only 18, and then we would just get 'em out randomly. But now there's just so many people, it's hard, it's people also get angry, uh, if they don't get the, the, the fancy ones.
So we noticed everyone gets their, the little.
[00:23:37] Craig Dalton: So as you've taken that journey from 18 to three 50 now to 6, 6 50, you know, what kind of logistical challenges has that created for you? I'm always curious cause I, I know how much work it takes to put on an event. Yeah. So I'm curious to kind of extract a few of these details for any.
Would be event organizers who are kind of thinking about this journey or who are on it on their own? Yeah.
[00:24:01] Patrick Engleman: Um, I, I gotta tell you the, the logistical, the first thing I solved and the, uh, and I, I guess not, probably the first thing, all the biggest impact I feel that I solved was I got a storage locker . And I felt like such a, like a big deal.
I finally got a storage locker cause it was all, all the stuff was stored in my mom's basement and in my parents' basement and like, Have to go up the stairs into downstairs and then turn the corner and it's like a little small in there for me. And man, that saved so much time to back up a sprinter and dump everything in and dump everything back out now.
So that was huge. So would be event organizers, once you get to a certain point, spend the money, get it, get it. It's so much, so much, uh, it's, it's such a value to everyone that's involved that you can just go to the, go there, do inventory, do all the things you need to do, but logistics on the ride and, and,
[00:24:47] Craig Dalton: okay.
And. Pat one, one question. Do you, with your peers, and I know there's like more than a handful of events in PA and you mentioned being friends with a number of those event organizers, do you guys share any logistics issue? You know, do you share, like we all borrow a stage from one another or whatever you need?
[00:25:05] Patrick Engleman: anything is up progress. I mean, like we have, I I, I could ask any of them for anything and, and they, and they know the same for me. And, and that's, and that's for anybody. I mean, like, I have friends, uh, you know, I was. To your podcast the other day. People ask all the time, like, can I borrow a tent? Sure, no problem.
Because I know I would've loved to add that tent. And it was a big ask, you know, like 10 years ago for me to get a tent for somebody. And now like they're just sitting there most of the year, you know, like, come, come borrow something. And um, so yeah, we share radios, uh, share those sorts of things. We're actually looking at, um, getting some of those like spot, not the spot trackers, but the, um, the more like, uh, like satellite phones and having a co and like starting.
Grow a selection of those, uh, because I know we're not, we're not Northern California remote, but we're hills and valleys remote, where like you can't, yeah, you might be close to a city, but there's no, there's zero communication in some of these places. So, and as we go further out, the communication is a disaster.
So we're, uh, and Omic and, and Dave and myself and a couple others, we've talked about like kind of starting to grow that, uh, infrastructure of those very expensive pieces of equipment to share and share. .
[00:26:09] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. And I think before I interrupted you, you were gonna start talking about like the course and the impact that 600 riders has versus.
[00:26:18] Patrick Engleman: 18. Yeah. So yeah, logistics, uh, literally went from the, the back, the, uh, the trunk of my dad's car, uh, to, and like the, you know, the, the, uh, tailgate of my, of my car, uh, to now logistics. The number one logistic issue is we have, is we at mile 54 on top of the, almost the highest point on the course, we have a full-blown taco stand.
Uh, so you get to mile 54 ish, Cland giant hill. And there is tacos, uh, for you to, to take. And, um, this year Shram is sponsor is sponsoring that, uh, which is really cool to get them involved. Um, but they're, um, getting water there and getting. Food and all the, and then the trash home is always for me, it's like, oh yeah, we gotta take this stuff home.
And finding those locations and finding cool folks who are willing to be like, yeah, sure. Just hang out in my front yard for the day. Uh, and we've, we've been very lucky to find those people who they want nothing in return. I've tried to bring them beer, you know, I've done all those things and they're like, oh yeah, cool.
Thank you. You know, that's about it. That's all I want. Case, you know, I bring them case of your, and thank you. And that's all. And it's been awesome to find those people, but finding those people. Takes time, you know, and, and, and takes the guts to knock on a door in the middle of nowhere too. So , I am, I'm willing to do, I'm willing to do that, but I've definitely, uh, have been, you know, a little nervous dealing that once in a while.
But that's what it takes. So I think the biggest thing is, is, um, , it's getting water and things out there. Plus, on our course we have a, uh, the Que River runs, uh, directly through the middle of it. So we only have two river crossings, uh, two bridges, uh, for the entire course. Uh, so if you're on one spot of the course, you've gotta get to the other and you've gotta get to a, a, a bridge to get there.
So sometimes having. Support services on one half of the course, and they stay on the east side of the river and we go to the west side of the river and stuff like that. Um, and the last one I would say is, is, is course marking. And anyone out there who wants to do this become a great course marker. And I, I, I would give a shout out to Brian and Nate, uh, and, and, um, and so, and, and the, and the other folks who do monkey night fight.
They helped me and made me think about approaching this at speed, making a turn and confirming your turn. Right. And so two ahead, one confirmer. Yeah. Is all, is the way we always go. And, and Mo I I, you can do this course without a computer and I get that question all the time. Like, I have a computer, how do I get around?
Just look at the ground. You would, you have to try hard to get lost. People do. You've gotta try pretty, pretty hard, uh, to get lost. Yeah. If you just look at the, at the L Arrows and my directions is, are. Look at the arrows, and if you didn't find one, go back to the last one you saw and then follow 'em again because you, you can't get, you can't get lost out there.
[00:29:02] Craig Dalton: So what's, what's our lost number for the last 11 years? Any lost riders out there?
[00:29:07] Patrick Engleman: Yeah, we have, we have one, uh, one, he happens to be one of my best buddies, and, and he got, he kind of, he, he kind of bailed out a little early and I was like, go this way and do this thing. and, and a couple hours later he calls me.
I'm like, where are you? He's like, I'm standing here. I got, I'm like, tell me what's around you tell me street names and everything else. And he's like, I got the, I said, look at the church across the street. You see the red door? Yeah. Pulled up your right hand and, and then follow that and you'll get, you'll get along the river and you'll be home in like half an hour, 10 minutes, you know, half an hour, 15 minutes, whatever.
Four hours later he calls me. He's like, I'm like, where you at? He's like, I got back to the church somehow, . I said, which way did you go, ? He's like, I think I went left and you told me to go right. And, uh, so yeah, he's, he's one of the most, most legendary ones. But I, I have, uh, we've had a few, uh, the year that it rained, I, I, I sort of, I was, um, 2019 is legendary for the rain and the weather.
Uh, we started off, when I said to the group, I said, oh, here's your Rube day. You know, here's the day you're gonna look like such a hard ass. You're gonna, you're gonna be George NC Capy covered in mud. This is the day you get to do that, and you get to, and then, uh, this was like sprinkling and like mid forties.
And by mile 10 it. Low forties, high thirties and pouring. And uh, so we got to the first rest stop and, uh, some people were kept alive by some hot pizza. We moved out there and, and a couple propane heaters that we were able to get. Um, and then I, a lot of people on that day, uh, were great and they took, and I luckily had myself and a couple others who were like, this is the way home from here.
Don't, don't deviate from that. And most people, , uh, mo most people did, didn't make it nice, but there's still some, you know, some folks who, uh, didn't quite, didn't quite make it. They may have made the left when I told 'em, make the right and then spent a long day out there in the cold. .
[00:30:57] Craig Dalton: Quick aside, the last time I saw Celine was in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Pre-writing the big sugar course, it poured with rain. It was similar, similarly cold. Yeah. And I remember we, we hit this brewery and there was a fire and she had a complete change of clothes. To continue on and my dumb ass had nothing. Mm-hmm. . So I had to pull the plug and take the broom wagon home cuz I was freezing and not prepared at
[00:31:25] Patrick Engleman: all.
Celine's a pro for a reason, and I hope, and I hope she hear, I hope she hears this. She's a pro for a reason and for lo for lots of them. She's, she's, you know, one of the strongest writers I think on the planet. Uh, hands down. I mean she against anybody at any age except for following a gps. She can't do that to save her life
And she knows, we all know that. , but her and Dave and another friend of ours named Dave on that ride that was so cold and miserable, they went to a, a diner in the, in one of the small towns and sat and ate, ate a bunch of soup and hung out and just waited out and then looked at the weather app and I got a message and, uh, one of the Star Wars had just come out and Dave said, if we watch Star Wars in Tocan, and we were late, can you come pick us up?
I was like, why watch, why are you watch Star Wars? She's like, well, if we watch Star Wars, the weather rain will be over . So there's no pro her day bar like that. Like, look at the weather app and look at the theater across the street and say, man, three hours of Silver Wars, we can fi we can finish this thing and that.
And they, and they, and they totally could. Um, Celine is just a, I love it. I love it. Give more Celine love here for one more second. She is the only female winner of LULAC ever, meaning that she has won every year. She has tried to win. She has. So there's been zero other amazing first female finishers outside of ELE here.
So come get it come. Amazing. She's, she's had some competitors, but usually, um, you know, that's, uh, that, that lasts for only a little while and it's just, you know, knowledge of the area and also her being who she is.
[00:32:51] Craig Dalton: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I wanna get into the course a little bit, but one more question. Um, I just was curious about, you know, we hear, talk about the impact of these events on the community, and when you talk about 600 riders coming in, does the community there?
Like, are you, are you talking to the local city council? Are you filling up the hotels? Is, is everybody stoked because you've got 600 plus, you know, partners and families coming into town and spending money in the community. How's it become a
[00:33:20] Patrick Engleman: thing? Yeah, so, so I, I was smiling because this year, this year's the first year, not that it's, hasn't been, been a thing for years, like.
The brewery loves it. The hotels, we sell the hotels all the time. Uh, sell out the state park for people want to camp, um, all those things. But I've kept it away from the community outside of like getting in the newspaper or getting on TV or whatever. Um, until this year and this year, uh, the town of Pitton, like where I grew up and, you know, near and dear to me, has done a lot of work.
Uh, coming back, you know, we're a coal mining town that got smoked after coal mining left and, you know, had a, a tough time in the seventies and eighties and, and, and it's a part of the nineties and now it's coming back and it's like one of those places it looks like Bentonville because it's a small town that like all these new things are popping up every day and you're like, oh my God, they got a New Mexico place now they got like this, this little we get just got the other day.
This. , uh, used to be a bank like kiosk, like for like a drive up, and it just became a tiny, um, cafe where it's now a drive up instead of the bank. It's not a drive up cafe. So like we're getting like this, this, this dope stuff in town. So I, I reached out to town and said, Hey, every year, for the last couple years, I bring like around a thousand people here town a year.
You don't even know I exist. And they called me within an hour, and we've been working together since. And so this year, yeah, with the, um, the, the Downtown Piston partnership, um, the Saturday before the ride, uh, we're starting in downtown Piston for the first time ever. Uh, we've always started at, at a fire haul just outside of town.
And, um, when I met with them, I'm like, yeah, the fire haul, the fire, haul the fire. I'm like, how do we start downtown? And, uh, so we're starting downtown for the first time. A little bit nervous with this, you know, it's, it's new for me, uh, but we're also doing an outdoors and, uh, an arts expo, uh, the day before, and we've never done that.
I've always wanted everyone, something like that. And, uh, so working with town and like town recognizes the impact of, of cycling. And, and I always tell people my vision for my hometown is that it becomes a place like, like Bend, uh, Oregon, where it was an environment, you know, a town that. Ravaged by the industry and then came back in an environment.
It's a place where everyone enjoys the environment and the economy is based on, on tourism and bringing people in to ride, to hunt, to atv, to ski, to do all the things they can do, uh, the place that we're from and Northeastern PA has literally, you can kayak. Canoe on the river. You can ski, you could hunt, you can ride ATV trails, you could do all sorts of different stuff up there.
And there's no reason why we don't do that. And that's like a life mission for me is to get to make that economy up there. A tourism based economy where people are coming there, people are buying second homes and everything else, and people go to the Poconos and it's right there next to the Poconos.
Like how can we get people to go there more and recreate on their weekends and recreate all the time and spend money in the town? I grew up. .
[00:35:57] Craig Dalton: Yeah. That's amazing. I love that. Shifting gears a little bit into the course, I know you, you now have several different lengths of the course. Yep. The Hondo being the kind of the big Una, the primary one, but you, I presumably, you wanna be inclusive and give newer riders the opportunity to kind of get out there and experience a little bit of what it has to offer.
Yeah. But for the purposes of this conversation, let's talk about the Hyundai. Like, what's the terrain like in there if from coming from outta state, and I don't, I've never put rubber on, on uh, trail in Pennsylvania, what do I need to know in my head? You have
[00:36:32] Patrick Engleman: to know that you, you should ride the bike that you feel comfortable on.
And we say that all the time. And we've had mountain bikes, we've had fat bikes, we had tandems, we've had everything. Um, and you can, you can ride LULAC on a road bike. I will say that over and over again. You can ride LULAC on a, on a road bike. It's hella uncomfortable to do so. But you could, um, I like. , big tires, hydro, hydraulic disc brakes, and lots of gears.
And that's a good way for me to spend my day. But if you want to murder yourself on a 52 chain ring, uh, you have at it. I could care less , but, but I know how I enjoy my day. So, um, there's a mix of road, uh, a ro, a mix of road road and, and as we call 'em up, they're dirt roads or gravel roads. Um, and the paved parts of the roads are some of the.
Abusive parts of the road. It's Northeastern Pennsylvania after the, after the thaw. And there are manhole covers the size, sorry. There are, there are potholes, the size of me. Uh, and they're everywhere. And, and they're, you know, the roads are not, are, it's a rural area and the roads are not necessarily well maintained.
They do their best, but it's a really hard environment to, to maintain roads on. So I, uh, all, all the paved parts I try to explain to people. I, I did a video last year where, cause everyone was like, oh, it's, it's a road ride. It's a road ride. And I, and I rode one of the roads, put my camera down, and I was like, do you want, this is your road, just so we're clear.
And it might look like a paved road on, on the map. And it, I will call it a paved road. But it's blown to pieces and like you've gotta be on it. Um, and the rest of it. So we have, uh, a very clay, uh, if you're on the, on the gravel scale, I think they did like a gravel, like a candy scale, like from like the tinies up to like a stop or whatever.
Um, we're in the solidly in the, like the pea gravel. with clay underneath. Um, so it definitely gives their, like their lines, especially when it's wet. It's kind of cool cause you end up with like a train track and just follow the train track you could. Um, but it's definitely a bunch of clay with some p gravel kind of in there.
Um, some rocks and roots. Um, the first section of single track, there's two sections of single track at the beginning. Um, and neither of them are anything that you would couldn't ride across by, on or couldn't. I mean, I grew up on, so they're nothing crazy. And they're also only. Two miles max of that whole section.
So people always like, wanna pick a bike for that? And I'm like, you're better off running it if you're gonna, if you're so nervous about it. And we have, we have great photos of people carrying their bikes while other people are just bombing it, you know, so there's, there's a blend of that. And depending on the, on the weather, it could be a total mud Pitt, uh, or it dries a bone, you just fly through it.
So it's, um, the whole, the whole course overall, I think you're a great, modern gravel bike is fantastic because like I said, it's. at the end when you're climbing the la those last couple hills, you're gonna want that larger chain ring. Outback. You're gonna really want that. And none of the, there's a couple parts on the road that you can move, you know, they use it for, uh, the locals use it for uh, time trial course.
Um, so you can definitely move on it and it's rolling. But man, I love some, having me some gears cuz there's some big steep hills and people are like, what the heck did he do to us? So some why. Yeah,
[00:39:33] Craig Dalton: I was looking at the, I was looking at the elevation course profile. On ride with G P s and it looks like, you know, within the first call it 10 miles, you start a pretty substantial climb.
That's the sort of predominant feature of the beginning half of the course. But even after you crust that you're still doing a bunch of up and down, which is what my memory of Pennsylvania is all about. A lot of, a lot of up and downs. And then you, you kind of do dip down back. Similar elevation as the start, and then you've got another big climb, you know, in the 60 to 70 mile range that you still have to tackle.
Before what looks like a ripping downhill, maybe the last 10 miles.
[00:40:11] Patrick Engleman: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. The la the last 10 is fun. And then you get onto a, then you get onto the river and, and some people think that's gonna be the easiest part. We have the, the river levy, uh, trail that we use, and then that, and then that, that, that side of town.
Um, but you get on that river and sometimes that wind is just blowing off the river and people get so disappointed because they're like, they're looking at their gps and they're like, man, that. Bit is totally flat and they think they're gonna fly. And then unfortunately, sometimes the, the wind is against them and they're having a tough time.
But yeah, that last little bit is, is a nice, you rip down, uh, an old railroad bed, uh, that's, that's, you know, it's a, it's a trail now, so it's, it's been taken care of. Um, you do at , I think it might be the only ride around mile 87 89, you climb a set of, You have to climb a set of stairs to get on and there's a little bike bike roller next to it, but you gotta climb a set of stairs to get onto the last rail trail.
Um, but yeah, we have tho those are, those are fun when people realize that they have to go up to the steps. It's like, what, are you kidding me? This is like mile 87 or so. Last rest stops over and now I've gotta climb a giant set of stairs. So, it happens.
[00:41:12] Craig Dalton: And then when they get back to cross the finish line, what type of experience do you have waiting for
[00:41:17] Patrick Engleman: them?
Uh, welcome, welcome them all back, just being so happy they're home. Uh, and, and giving them all we can, uh, to show 'em how, how happy we are to see them back. And they, they turn in their, their timing chip, and, uh, then they're handed pizza and beer as fast as possible. Uh, and that's, that's what we, we've gone to.
Pandemic kind of brought us to pizza. Uh, because post pandemic, like, like I said, it's my family and my family and friends and my family are getting. Uh, so I want to keep them as covid safe as possible. So we started, uh, with pizza from someone who used to babysit me when I was a kid. Uh, our, our, a friend of our family, uh, named Nora and she makes this amazing, like deep dish pizza and people love it.
I mean, we, we used to do like a sit down dinner and that kind of changed. And then post covid, people love just like tailgating in the parking lot. Pizza. Pizza. Yeah. And it's really, it's kind of changed the vibe, which is cool. Like the, the tailgate vibe. People love. Cause we used to like come in and we'd sit and dinner and they'd just sit there and you're, you'd eat this giant pasta and all kinds of stuff my mom would make and people would bring in and then you'd just sit there the rest of the day, you know, like, what the heck has happened to me?
Where now like the pizza and beer, uh, experience is a little bit more, uh, like a tailgate style, which is cool. People just hang out and tell stories and we encourage people to. Tell us all, all they can about the day. And, um, people filter in and out. They wait for their buddies. They, and they just have a good time.
So it's definitely, yeah. So totally laid back. It's nothing, you know, like I've been to some of the, some of the biggest events there are. And it's not like you go here and you hang out here and this is your, here is your thing that we made 30,000 of. And here's the thing, you go and you walk away and you've never seen 'em again.
It's like, No, like, I'm gonna bring you a beer over and we're gonna talk about what you just did. You know you're gonna share, you know, man, that ride was crazy. This thing was this, or whatever. It's just, just fun.
[00:43:00] Craig Dalton: That's awesome. What, what is sort of the time range, like from first person to last person to complete the course?
[00:43:06] Patrick Engleman: Um, man, it's tough cuz I think we the full, so here's, here's the, here's the deep dark secret of Luca. . It'd be much better if I just called the LULAC 83. Cause that's what a lot of people do. They won't tell you they did the 83 cuz there's a cutoff that they can do. So a lot of them do cut it off a little early when they get out there and they're like, this is just bonkers.
Why am I still doing this ? And there's a, uh, there's a decision point where we have a, a, you may have seen some of the pictures on, on Instagram, just like it's a party. It's our unofficial rest stop. But it's our local trail group is like, Hey, do you really want to do this? Or would you like a shot? And you go that way downhill.
And there's a lot of people that take that, take that shot and and turn that's a hard choice. And turn at 83 and, and, and go and go for home. Instead of doing the hundred, there's plenty to do. The hundred. So to, to tell you that answer. People start rolling in. So we don't, now we, with post covid, we've also gone to a rolling start, so you could start anytime between eight and 10.
Um, so with that, it's a little bit tough to say, but on time on course we're probably looking at seven hours. Most people are. are around there, uh, for, for the hundred, so seven hours or so, up to like nine hours. Um, folks are out there. Uh, we've had people push it to the 10 hour mark. Um, my role is dark. Is dark.
Just be in by dark. Uh, well, we usually have a pretty good beat on who's out there. By the end, we've, we've got tracking, uh, tracking technology, and then also lots of eyeballs all over the course and support. So we've got a pretty good eye on who's where. Um, but dark is our cutoff and we haven't had dark in a.
So, which is, you know, knock on wood, we haven't had dark
[00:44:40] Craig Dalton: Yeah. In a few years now. Yeah. It seems like riders are usually smart enough on a rolling start that if they feel like they're gonna be, have, uh, be a long time out there, they'll roll up on the earlier side rather than taking
[00:44:49] Patrick Engleman: off at 10. That's me.
I'm a, you know, like unpaid unpaved. This year I was psyched to finish to be a 12, have a 12 hour average. and I, I, we left early knowing where we cold and, but we knew we were gonna have his Max Max. I'd rather have those extra two hours of sunlight than sleep for that extra little bit because I, I would be nervous Yeah.
The whole time if I didn't have it. Cause I'm not, I mean, I'm. I keep moving, you know, like plucking along a hundred miles or 12 miles an hour for the day isn't bad, but I, uh, but I'm not, you know, going 18, 20 all day. So I wanna make sure I have the maximum time. And I also see my friends at the end too, see my, see my Celine, uh, this year.
Uh, speaking of her again, I got to drag her into the finish of unpaid, which was, we, uh, the unpaid finishes on a long, a long rail trail. And she knows from many of our rides that she just sits behind me and I'm a giant wind sail, and she was just, you know, cruising, cruising in behind me. So it was, it was a good.
[00:45:40] Craig Dalton: That's great. Are you still in April for the event?
[00:45:44] Patrick Engleman: Yep. April, April 23rd this year. Yeah. So we, we,
[00:45:48] Craig Dalton: okay. And has, has, is registration opened already?
[00:45:50] Patrick Engleman: Yep. Registration. Registration is open. I think there's like three or so, three or so hundred people in there right now. Um, and, um, actually, uh, tomorrow, uh, TREKK, uh, is our title sponsor for this year.
And they're gonna start a pretty serious, uh, blitz on marketing for, uh, starting tomorrow. Uh, so that's, uh, they're gonna do some, some stuff with, um, You know, just, just marketing through their, their channels and also within their stores and stuff like that. So it's been, it's been cool to have a, have a partner like them come in.
[00:46:21] Craig Dalton: Yeah. That's awesome. I think it's like a testament to the reputation that the event must have garnered over the last 11 years. That track would come in and, and, and wanna help you out. And, and you mentioned Ramer earlier, so it's great to. Here you're getting some industry support. Yeah.
[00:46:34] Patrick Engleman: Yeah. It's, it's been great.
People, people have been awesome for years. We've had, we've had a lot of great sponsors, uh, over the year and, and this year hearing from hearing from track was like, wait, who, who, who's this ? You know, like, do you have the right number? Uh, and, and know, and, but it, but it is, it's, it's definitely, it's, it's humbling.
Uh, but also, but also kind of justifies all the work we've done over the years to, to get someone like, like track to, you know, get their eyeballs on, on our little, our little.
[00:47:00] Craig Dalton: Yeah, for sure. Well, this was awesome, pat. I really enjoyed the conversation. I always enjoyed thinking about Pennsylvania as a cycling destination cuz as I said, I had some, so many great experiences there when I was younger.
Yeah. On the mountain bike and I, I recognized. What a beautiful, and underappreciated is not the right word, but it's such a, it's such a big state with a lot of really cool outdoor activities that D doesn't get the shine like, you know, Colorado might, for example, and it's such a great area
[00:47:31] Patrick Engleman: and so , you're allowed to say California.
It's okay. We know
[00:47:35] Craig Dalton: we get a little bit of shine, we
[00:47:36] Patrick Engleman: get a little bit of. Yeah, the, uh, but I, I appreciate, I appreciate you saying that because it's true. And, and I love, I love Colorado. I love California, Utah, Idaho, all those places. And they get, they've got the big mountains and it's mag, it's the, the majesty.
And, you know, you look out on this vista and, you know, Pennsylvania's got these tough little coal towns and they're just surrounded by the same majesty. You've gotta look differently. Right. And that's, and that's really what it is, is like I go to Colorado. I'm, I'm in total awe. I'm, I'm like, I sh shivers when I see it, or Northern California or Idaho.
And I'm like, oh my God. , but then I also do the same thing back home, you know? And, and, and it is possible. So I, I really, I'm really happy. You, you, you mentioned that like the East coast, east coast does have some cool stuff, you know, you don't have to necessarily be out west all the time.
[00:48:19] Craig Dalton: You know, and I just love that, that life goal of yours to just shine a little bit of light on this area and perhaps play a little part in the community, understanding the value of the outdoors, and when you throw up that outdoor flag and do things like you're doing with this event.
You start to get that draw and you get the people from Boston, you get the people from DC coming in there and it becomes sort of a habitual part of where they want a vacation and where they wanna spend money. Yeah. Which is so important to these communities that, you know, their, their earlier livelihoods are not available
[00:48:50] Patrick Engleman: anymore.
Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And and I, and we have it in states. We have so much, so much land and so many places to go, so I'm really excited to see what happens. Yeah. And I may not see it all, but I'm, I'm happy to see it, to, to start to hopefully start this off and help the other people who also up there are working on this.
[00:49:05] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I love it. I love it. Well, I'll make sure all the details are in the show notes so people know how to find you. Hopefully this will serve as a little bit of a guide to athletes who are curious about your origin story and make sure they recognize you and give you the high five you deserve for all this
[00:49:19] Patrick Engleman: effort.
Thanks Craig. And I'm, I'm, I'm excited to have a, a more of a, a national audience on this. I know we, we've been on some local podcasts and, uh, but it's nice to, you know, you, you're doing this for not just California, not just not just the big guys, you know, and, and I love the big guys and I, I love hearing their stories and uh, and also learning a lot from all of them.
And that's also funny to hear them like, oh yeah, we've been doing this for 10 years, or We've doing this for seven years, or whatever. I'm. Man, you know, like I've been doing this for a long time, but I've also kept it quiet kind of on, on purpose to a certain extent. Yeah. So, um, yeah,
[00:49:49] Craig Dalton: you know, I mean, that's the way you get sort of, you talk about authentic growth and I think that's where, that's where these really well run, well thought out events come from where you're not just like, , I want to go big from day one.
I wanna have a thousand person event when you have no business and our, our understanding on how to pull that off. Mm-hmm. , I, I, I mean I, from the outside, I feel like you've done it right, pat, and kudos to you for that. I appreciate
[00:50:11] Patrick Engleman: it, Craig. Thank you so much. Yeah. Yeah. Have a good evening. You too. Thank you.
That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Big, thanks to Patrick for joining the show. And talking about this great event out there in Pennsylvania.
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