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Cycling in Albania

Discover the beauty of this previously isolated country by bike



At a glance

* 5 nights hotels, 2 nights guesthouses
* 6 days cycling with full vehicle support
* Group normally 4 to 16, plus local cycling leader and driver. Min age 16
yrs
* Trip can be combined with Cycle Macedonia & Northern Albania
* E-bike hire available on request

Discover the beauty of this previously isolated country by bike

Some say that visiting Albania is as close as you’ll get to travelling back
in time. It wasn’t until the collapse of the People’s Socialist Republic of
Albania in 1991 that the world got its first glimpse of the country within.
Huge snow-capped mountains, inviting beaches, pretty rural villages, a
genuine subsistence culture and an exceptionally friendly welcome is what you
will find here. We cycle through the very best of Europe’s beautiful unknown,
beginning our tour on the border of Macedonia, biking towards the ancient
town of Gjirokastra passing soaring peaks and lush green valleys. From here
we begin our descent to the Albanian Riviera passing the UNESCO site of
Butrint and Llogara National Park, before relaxing by the sea at our hotel in
Vlorë.

https://www.exodus.co.uk/sites/exod/files/node/itinerary/images/mva.jpg?t=1Dlb4Y

Type: Land Only

Flight prices available from NeenanCycling. Contact us for details

What’s included

* All breakfasts and 2 dinners included
* All accommodation
* Transfer for group flights
* Local bike hire

Food:
All breakfasts and 2 dinners included.

Food in Albania is quite varied thanks to the many influences on the country
and particularly Mediterranean combining Turkish, Greek and Italian tastes.
Dairy products, especially milk and yoghurt are present in almost every meal,
usually locally sourced.

Under the leadership of Enver Hoxha (the communist leader of Albania from
1944-1985), Albania became a self-sustaining country due to its isolation to
the world. However due to the lush fertile valleys, fresh mountain springs
and Mediterranean climate, they are still very much a subsistence culture and
show very little signs of changing. In the countryside expect your food to
have been reared/grown not too far from your plate.

Breakfasts are typically eggs, fresh bread, jam, honey and coffee or tea. For
lunch and dinner, meat dishes are often goat or lamb, with fish dishes
ranging from trout to whitebait. Courses often come in mezze form
complimented with a variety of succulent vegetables, salad, freshly baked
bread, homemade cheeses, local wines and of course, raki. Your guide will
recommend the best options when in the towns.

Start destination: Pogradec

End destination: Vlore

Cycling profile

Day 1

Start Pogradec. Those on the group flight will be met at the airport and
transferred to our hotel in Pogradec, situated on the shore of Lake Ohrid
(approx. 3hr drive). The afternoon is free to relax and enjoy this lakeside
location.
*Comfortable Hotel*

Day 2

We begin with one of the most demanding days of the tour. After a quick
transfer to Korçë, we begin cycling and leave behind the agricultural
plateau, climbing steadily into the border mountains through a landscape of
barren rock interspersed with wild flowers. Numerous cols and valleys lie
ahead, climbing towards Grammoz Mountain and over the Barmash Pass (1159m) to
Gërmenj, lying in its own tranquil valley. Here we relax at our
accommodation, Farma Sotira, which is also a working trout farm. Meals here
consist of organic produce that is reared or sourced from the farm itself.
Once you’ve finished eating your hearty dinner, you can sit and relax by
the open roaring fire in the dining area with a glass of homemade wine or a
bottle of Korçë beer (Albania’s most popular).

Cycle approx. 72km, total ascent approx. 1150m, total descent approx. 1050m.
*Standard Hotel*

Day 3

In the morning there is a climb out from Germenj to a high grassy plateau
close to the Greek border, surrounded by soaring peaks before reaching the
source of the River Vjosa and descending through its spectacular gorge to
Leskovik. We continue descending to Çarshove and then follow the corniche
route high above the river to Benje situated on a ridge above the river.
After lunch at the guesthouse, we take a short ride to the thermal springs to
relax and soothe aching muscles. Both lunch and dinner will be served on the
peaceful terrace.

Cycle approx. 60km, total ascent approx. 687m, total descent approx. 1352m.
*Standard Hotel*

Day 4

Today is one of the easiest days. We continue along the valley towards
Kelcyra with its distant shark-tooth peaks, which guard a further gorge. We
ride between these gorges until the two rivers meet. After lunch at the
waterfalls of Tepelene we drive (approx. 30 mins) through the wide plain
toward the town of Gjirokastra (city of 1000 steps). The well-preserved town
is perched on the steep side of the Drino Valley, overlooking snow-capped
mountains. In the afternoon we take a cultural tour through the city and
explore its narrow cobbled alleys and 18th Century Ottoman houses. We also
visit the 13th Century castle and learn about the fascinating history of this
town, which has seen many rulers and has inspired poets, authors and artists.

Cycle approx. 46km, total ascent approx. 350m, total descent approx. 520m.
*Comfortable Hotel*

Day 5

After breakfast we load the bikes on to the support vehicle and transfer up
to Muzina Pass (approx. 45 minutes), the gateway to southern Albania, for a
spectacular downhill ride to Sarandë. Located on the Ionian Coast, Sarandë
is sandwiched between the high mountains and the sea and is close to the
ancient remains of Butrint, which we visit on the way. A UNESCO World
Heritage Site, Butrint is located very close to the Greek border and is one
of the country’s most important archaeological sites, tracing its origins
back to the Greeks and the Romans. We have lunch at the site and continue
along the coast to Sarandë.

Cycle approx. 70km, total ascent approx. 725m, total descent approx. 1285m.
*Comfortable Hotel*

Day 6

Climbing steeply out of Sarande to a rocky plateau, we enjoy a spectacular
coastal ride over cols into bays and around headlands. Always with the
stunning mountain scenery to the right and sea to the left, we continue along
before descending to Himarë, a small communist-era fishing village with a
small promenade filled with cafes, restaurants and ice cream stands. There is
plenty of time for a swim in the Ionian Sea, and our hotel is a short walk to
Potam Beach.
Cycle approx. 54km, total ascent approx. 1064m, total descent approx. 1064m.
*Comfortable Hotel*

Day 7

Today’s route is as challenging as it is spectacular as we cycle the most
demanding ride of the tour; it will show you how strong you have become. In
the morning there is a climb out of Himarë, which naturally is rewarded with
an enjoyable downhill. We then have another climb before our coffee break.
Our break is followed with a nice downhill, but we must climb yet again
before we regroup. We then come face to face with the long steady ascent to
the Llogara pass. At 1043m above sea level, this climb is completely
optional, so if you think it is too much then you can jump in the support
vehicle. However, if you are looking for an extra challenge, this climb comes
with a real sense of achievement, and the views are fantastic. At the pass
itself (which you will also see if you take the van) it is possible to see
across to Italy on a clear day. We recommend taking a warmer layer for
reaching the top of the pass. From here you enter Llogara National Park, home
to black pine, Eurasian otter and golden eagles. The park is a scenic expanse
of protected woodland that encompasses the forests on the northern side of
the Llogora Pass. We begin to descend and have lunch in the National Park. In
the afternoon we continue descending towards our hotel, which is located by
the sea just outside of the city. Here we can relax and take a dip in the
sea, the perfect reward for a hard day’s cycle.

 Cycle approx. 65km, total ascent approx. 1630m (including the optional
climb), total descent approx. 1630m.

*Comfortable Hotel*

Day 8

End Vlorë. Those on the group flight will be transferred to Tirana airport
in the morning (approx. 2.5hr drive).

Prices & Dates

Date: 2019-04-192019-04-26

Trip code: MVA190419

Availability: Available

Price: €1175

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Date: 2019-04-262019-05-03

Trip code: MVA190426

Availability: Available

Price: €1175

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Date: 2019-05-032019-05-10

Trip code: MVA190503

Availability: Available

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-05-102019-05-17

Trip code: MVA190510

Availability: Available

Price: €1175

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Date: 2019-05-242019-05-31

Trip code: MVA190524

Availability: Available

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-05-312019-06-07

Trip code: MVA190531

Availability: Available

Trip status: Fully guaranteed

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-06-072019-06-14

Trip code: MVA190607

Availability: Available

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-06-142019-06-21

Trip code: MVA190614

Availability: Available

Trip status: Fully guaranteed

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-06-212019-06-28

Trip code: MVA190621

Availability: Available

Price: €1395

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Date: 2019-06-282019-07-05

Trip code: MVA190628

Availability: Available

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-08-302019-09-06

Trip code: MVA190830

Availability: Available

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-09-062019-09-13

Trip code: MVA190906

Availability: Available

Trip status: Fully guaranteed

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-09-132019-09-20

Trip code: MVA190913

Availability: Available

Price: €1215

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Date: 2019-09-202019-09-27

Trip code: MVA190920

Availability: Available

Price: €1215

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Date: 2019-09-272019-10-04

Trip code: MVA190927

Availability: Available

Price: €1215

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Date: 2019-10-042019-10-11

Trip code: MVA191004

Availability: Available

Price: €1175

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Date: 2019-10-112019-10-18

Trip code: MVA191011

Availability: Available

Price: €1175

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Customer Feedback

Fantastic

Summary:
A fabulous trip that surprised us from day one. Great food, wonderful people
and fantastic scenery. Albania was the winner and we will all recommend going
there as soon as you can.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Riding the pass on the last day.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Erlis(the leader) and Tani(driver) were fabulous, taking care of every detail
for us before we even knew it had to be taken care of. They even managed a
complete bike change one night for one member of the group without them
noticing.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Go now. Don’t hesitate.

Read full review

Best Ever

Summary:
Every part of this trip was wonderful, from the people, to the rides, to the
organization, to the food, etc. I loved it.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
It’s hard to choose one, but maybe getting to the top of that looong climb on
the last day. I also really appreciated the history and cultural info that
Erlis imparted to us throughout the trip.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Erlis was an amazing group leader! I had put in place a lot of structures
that made our trip as easy and smooth as it could have been. He shared a lot
of history and cultural information that really enhanced our travels and
understanding of Albania. He was kind and patient and funny, and the trip
would not have been as incredible without him at the helm. Tani, our
driver/mechanic/snack procurer/hydrator was also an integral part of the
group. He was incredibly thoughtful and accommodating, and anticipated needs
we didn’t even know we’d have.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Go on this trip! The trip notes and packing list covered everything very
thoroughly.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
The trip was very well run, and truly excellent. I cannot say enough about
how great Erlis and Tani are – they really made this trip this wonderful. I
would highly recommend this trip to anyone who can handle some challenging
cycling.

Read full review

Cycle Albania

Summary:
Albania is incredibly beautiful. It has some of the most spectacular
mountain scenery that will forever be etched in my memory. Cycling is a
fantastic way to see a country and visit lesser touristy places and this trip
was certainly no exception. The people are very hospitable and the Cycle
Albania team were simply amazing. The food was a fusion of Mediterranean and
Turkish meze style and every meal was a feast in itself!

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Reaching the top of Llogara pass was one of the most powerful moments of the
trip. The climb itself is not too hard – it is long and steady – but the
hills on the way to the pass make the climb more challenging.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Our leader was Erlis Rizvanolli. Erlis was incredibly trusting towards us
from the word go: Every day we got a map with a description as part of our
briefing which was a nice detail which I have not seen on other cycling
tours. Erlis let us ride at our own pace and we would re-group at regular
intervals and he did not feel the need to control us and always be in the
lead – I really appreciated the freedom to ride how I chose, this is not
something I have experienced on other Exodus cycling tours and it made this
trip stand out from the others. Due to the meze (sharing) approach to
eating, Erlis would pay for every meal and trusted us to record the cost of
our food and drink and did not take any money from us until the end of the
holiday. Erlis was well organized and the tour ran slick. Erlis went the
extra mile to ensure we had a fantastic holiday and even got in the kitchen
on the final morning to make our breakfast because the chef was hospitalized
in a vehicle accident on his way to work.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Albania is not flat – be prepared to cycle up some hills. The Albanians also
love cheese, there is usually one cheese dish per meal (sometimes two) but
there was an abundance of food so if you are lactose intolerant do not worry!

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
Our support driver, Tani Kurti, was instrumental to the smooth operation of
the cycle tour. Tani is a kind and patient soul, who looked after the back
of the group and ensured no-one was left behind. Not only was Tani a careful
and considerate driver, but he did whatever was needed to look after the
group: he was our bike mechanic, driver, first-aider, waiter, group
photographer and he always made sure we were well fed and hydrated whilst
cycling.

Read full review

Fabulous trip

Summary:
Beautiful country with a mixture of forest, coast and mountains. Our group
bonded really well; we had lots of laughs and lots of encouragement for each
other up the hills. Food was good; mezze style shared between the group which
worked really well. Lots of snack stops to keep us fuelled.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Making it up the Llogara Pass which was hot, very hilly but well worth it!

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Erlis was fantastic. Very easy going, knowledgeable about the history of
Albania and nothing was too much trouble for him.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Do some hill practice before coming, as the first day starts with some tough
hills. Visit now before word gets out about how fabulous Albania and its
people are.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
Brilliant holiday – book it now and make sure you try the raki when you get
there!

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Cycling Albania

Summary:
A fantastic way to see this wonderful country. The first part of the trip is
mainly inland in more rural mountainous areas and the second part along the
Albanian riviera.

Great hospitality and food, considerate drivers on the roads and friendly
people as we passed through the smaller places.

The cycling has some challenging climbs on the first and final days but is as
described on the trip notes and classification. Nice to have some shorter
cycling days to be able to do the tours in Gjirokaster and the Roman site at
Butrint.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Roman city of Butrint.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Great service by our group leader Dimitri especially in managing and
organising the coffee stops, lunches and evening meals.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Make sure you try the Iced coffee in cans. Lunches were lovely but maybe too
much for lunchtime whilst cycling, show self restraint!

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
Exodus and Cycling Albania (local company) delivered another excellent
cycling trip.

Read full review

Great opportunity to see, hear, taste and truly experience Albania

Summary:
A week in which you will challenge your fitness, enjoy delicious and
healthful food, meet welcoming communities and see the beauty of unspoilt
countryside.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
The Alberian people were kind and generous. All interactions we had were
totally positive. We felt welcomed everywhere we went.

Both mountain and coastal areas were wonderful, very different in
architecture, scenery and culture.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Dmitry was totally professional. Nothing was overlooked. He was very well
prepared, kind, humerous and tireless. Our driver was on the ball with
roadside bike adjustments, helping with baggage and a fabulous in- vehicle
Playlist. His energy level was impressive.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Train,train, train. You will be glad you did. If in doubt of your desire to
cycle like a fiend for a week; consider an ebike. Don’t underestimate the
hills. There is good reason that your guides supply snacks at every turn!

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
The first and last days are hard. However the bikes are perfect for the job,
the roads surprisingly good and the guides know how to support you. Some of
the middle days are less demanding, so it’s nicely paced. The experience IA
worth the tired legs.

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Fantastic Trip

Summary:
It says it’s challenging and it is – but the effort is worth it. The scenery
is fantastic – at times it felt like “cycling through a postcard”… hard
climbs and fun descents. The food is great – really fresh and vibrant; lots
of good fish, local vegetables, cheese and meat – delicious and plenty of it!
An interesting and beautiful country – I’d definitely recommend it – if you
are up for some long steady climbing!

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Getting to the top of the long climb on the last day (even tho I wimped out
of the first part of it…) it was still long and amazing views.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
The leader was organised, efficient and friendly.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
get some hill practice in before you go.

Read full review

Cycle Albania, if in any doubt…do it…

Summary:
Excellent week, great guide & support, great group of people, lovely country,
well maintained bikes. Food was very good at all of the stops and the
although some of the accommodation was a little basic it’s all you need as
you are only there for the night and there isn’t much time spent around the
hotels / guesthouses as we were always busy with activities.
There seems to be a lot of money being spent on new roads and the 14km
descent on a brand new road was fun 🙂 , I do wonder if these roads will
become busy in time, but at the moment we saw very few other vehicles on a
large percentage of the rides.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
The stunning scenery of the mountains and coastline. The feeling at the end
of the week went you look back at all of the days achievements.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Erlis was FANTASTIC… He did everything he could to make the trip enjoyable
and informative while leaving the group to do things at their own pace.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Many other reviewers are saying do this trip sooner rather than later, before
Albania becomes like any other European country and I can only agree.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
The difficulty of this trip was just right, any more difficult and it would
have become more of a challenge than a holiday. The last day I’d recommend
doing your best to do the big hill, it’s really worth it when you finally get
to the top.

Read full review

Cycling Albania

Summary:
A really good trip, ticked all the boxes – good cycling, stunning scenary,
great weather, good food, great group to travel with and an excellent trip
leader

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
For me, it was seeing the group cycle up the Llogora pass, closely followed
by the way the way group bonded.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
He did a really good job, logistics were superb, route descriptions spot on,
very clear on what we could expect, and where the tough bits were! Gave us
some good background on the history and politics of Albania. -Thanks Erlis

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Be prepared for some hard cycling in places, read up about Albania and you’ll
enjoy it more

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
Thoroughly recommend this trip

Read full review

A must do Cycling challenge

Summary:
A great Cycling trip that had it all. Breathtaking mountain landscapes and
coastal scenery with fabulous food and wines to be had. My group of 13 fit
club cyclists found this a sometimes stengous tour in the 36 degrees heat in
Mid September. There’s really no easy days in the saddle and almost
everyday involves long climbs with equally long descents. The roads are very
rough in places and you need to keep your wits about you for the cows, mules,
dogs & goats that you meet on the narrow roads. Albania is a beautiful
mountainous country that will take you back to times of old with its simple
ways and graceful charm.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
My most inspirational moment was reaching the top of the climb of Liogare
Pass on the final day. I arrived hot and sweaty into a sea of white clouds
resting on the mountain top with a breathtaking views. With a great sense of
achievement and comardardy our small group had made the entire Climb
unassisted and relished the long descent to the coast.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Our Group Leader Eilis was fantastic and made everything simple & easy for
us. Nothing was too much trouble for him. He was very professional, kind and
most attentive to us all and made Cycling Albania a once in a lifetime trip.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Do some hill climbing before you go otherwise you will spend a lot of time
sitting in the support vehicle. I got a lot of bites so take insect repellent
and apply everyday before you commence your ride. I wouldn’t advise using
clip in shoes. The road surfaces are really rough and on a couple of
occasions I had to stop quickly for traffic coming both ways on the narrow
roads. As I had nowhere to go but on to the ditch I put my unclipped foot
down to prevent a fall. I would highly recommend this challenging tour, you
won’t be disappointed.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
Don’t worry about getting Lek until you reach the airport in Tirana. Our
guide purchased all our meals for us and we paid him in euros on the last
night of the trip. Our guide also ran a Group kitty for fruit & snacks and
water which cost around 2000 Lek or £14 for the entire week. Food is really
cheap and delicious.

Read full review


Activity Levels


Activity Levels range from Leisurely to Tough, the grading takes into account the daily cycling distances and terrain, as well as any technical riding skill required. We also consider the number of cycling days as there can be a cumulative affect from tiredness on a longer trip and the type of accommodation used, as this can also influence your day to day recovery.

If you are in any doubt, please give us a call on +353-1-607 9900 or email us.


Activity level 1 - Leisurely Activity level 1: Leisurely

If you can ride a bike and enjoy gentle exercise, these are an ideal introduction to a cycling holiday. No routes are entirely flat, so expect some short climbs and descents. Maximum daily height gain is approximately 250 metres and daily distances rarely exceed 50kms (32 miles), any longer days are often optional.


Activity level 3 - Moderate Activity level 3: Moderate

Most people who enjoy a weekend riding at home will enjoy a Moderate trip. You need to be in good health and reasonably fit. Ideal for occasional cyclists, or as a more relaxed trip for fitter riders. Moderate off-road trips require no previous experience. Distances rarely exceed 70kms (43 miles) per day.


Activity level 5 - Challenging Activity level 5: Challenging

For any ride at this level, fitness is important. Challenging trips require confidence in your ability and physical condition. They are equivalent to an extended period of cycling at home. Previous mountain biking experience is essential for Challenging off road trips as they will involve some technical riding.


Activity level 7 - Tough Activity level 7: Tough

Previous experience of the cycling style or surface is a must as these routes have long cycling days and tougher terrain on both road and off road trips. You need complete confidence in your fitness and technical ability to cope with difficult or steep terrain, rough surfaces and longer distances. Ideal for those seeking a challenge!


Split grades

In order to provide more accuracy, where a trip falls between two grades we use an intermediate or ‘split’ grade, for example 2: Leisurely/Moderate.


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