May Double Feature
It's spring and I'm feeling generous. And cranky. So you get a two-fer whingefest. Both posts are bike riding/racing related, with various other human study bits thrown in to break up the monotony. But not too many. Probably not enough. Apologies in advance.
Please silence your cell phones. This post in not yet rated.
It's Not Just for Shitty Driving Anymore
I have a few friends, lots of family on my wife's side and I've made a decent number of casual acquaintances and know a fair number of bicycle racing peeps who hail from the Commonwealth. I am going to exempt these folks from blanket, derogatory statements to come. Despite this kindness on my part, I doubt any of them would disagree with my assessments.
Massachusetts, at least in certain dense pockets - which would be roughly anywhere east of Worcester, is full of white people with too much money and too-broad foreheads. It's not just the Kennedys. People in Massachusetts (or as I like to pronounce it: Mass-of-Two-Shits) have very large heads. Somehow these people manage to cram their bulbous noggins into really expensive cars. And then they drive those cars over the whole of the state like absolute assholes. Hence, the term: Masshole.
And of course, these facts are widely known and accepted. Massachusetts drivers are infamously horrible. To me, life in Massachusetts is the definition - the embodiment - of the rat race. You just can't have that many entitled, hippo-sized craniums assembled in the same general area and expect anything less than rodent-like behaviour, especially once behind the wheel. It makes perfect sense. In New York you have even more people stuffed into an even smaller space. Population density. It does bad things to people. It makes them pushy and rude. But in New York, most people don't drive. Most of them have regulation-sized heads. And some are even poor. So New Yorkers get a pass. That's right, Massachusetts. New York gets away with it - again.
So yes. Massholes. They don't drive friendly. They cut you off at each and every opportunity (have fun parking in the precious hell that is Wellesley), they run stop signs, they tailgate you at 90mph, in the rain, in a 55mph section of potholed I-95 (is 75mph in the far right lane not fast enough, pumpkinhead?). All of this, about the horror that is Massachusetts driving, is well documented.
But here's something you might not know: The same fat-brained people who drive automobiles in the state (Commonwealth, sorry) of Massachusetts also ride bicycles there. It's true.
And they're ginormous pricks on two wheels too. Shocking, but true.
So now that the setup is out of the way, three episodes follow from my "solo" Sunday outing in Massachusetts, which I planned to do as a long, easy, long again, but easy, see?, recovery ride. I wanted to spend a good, four hours on the bike, contemplating various. In peace.
It was not to be.
My rides in Massachusetts, unless I'm training out in the hills near Fitchburg/Sterling/Wachusett (where I'd done a race on Saturday, more on that, sadly for you, in a bit) or even further out west (it's a whole other ballgame out there), generally start at the in-laws' place. It's customary practice for the family to get up on Sunday morning and take a leisurely drive out west to a very nice farm, have some scones and coffee, sit and talk, buy a bit of produce, make a morning of it. I'll usually leave their house on my bike ~20 minutes before they leave in the car, meet them for a quick cuppa, then be on my way through the rolling roads that make up the farmland and quite nicely manicured residental landscape of this area of the state. To be clear, I've had some very, very enjoyable bike rides in this area of Massachusetts. Despite having to share the roads with Massachusetts drivers, even. Incroyable.
I leave the house on the bike a little past 9am, spinning easily in the little ring so as not to tax the legs and lungs, still a bit shot from Saturday's race and the previous week's training. This is going to be a long, though easy, but still very long day in the saddle. We just wanna ease in, then ease on down, ease on down, ease on down the road. On my way to the farm I see a fair number of recreational and club riders out doing their morning rides. And this is AWESOME. People on bikes. A thing of beauty. I give them all the wave as we pass one another by. Few, if any, return my greeting. But that's okay, because it's early, it's nice out, and we're riding bikes. Ain't gonna break-a-my-stride. We could be at the mall buying useless crap, or in line at the Buffeteria ready to stuff our gullets with all things deep-fried, or filling our 20-gallon tanks with hundreds of dollars of gasoline (daily), but we're not doing those things. We're riding our bikes. And this is a very good thing. A thing... of beauty.
I get to the farm, I have some coffee and a bran muffin (oh, the magic you work), I talk to the in-laws and my wife about baking and pastry and landscaping and home renovations (per usual), and then I get on the road. As I'm leaving I see a [casual, neon-green jacketed, mirror-on-the-helmeted, down-tube shiftered, panniers aplenty] group ride heading the other way. I give them a wave. They put their heads down. O. Kay.
Ten minutes later I'm still spinning easy. I'm maybe 15 miles total into my ride. Just getting warmed up. Heading to an intersection I hear the unmistakable clack-clack-clack of shifting gears behind me. I make the turn and the clacking continues. And it's right on my wheel. I take a peripheral glance and see one, two, make that three riders, all of them female (not that any of this is important), I think. I really never turned around.
Now, understand a few things.
Thing the first: I had a two-week break from training and racing bikes in December, after training hard since last May, when I picked the sport up again. Other than that little winter time off, I've been training every day since the New Year (I take Mondays off from the bike nearly year-round - otherwise: training). I've been doing weight work, I've been crosstraining, I've been doing lots and lots and lots of basement trainer miles through the winter, just like everyone else who races bikes. I've been riding outside as much as possible since March, when the snow finally started melting (this winter sucked, for the record). I've also been dealing with a crippling back injury, which set me back at least two months. I've trained through a lot of it and it's been no fun. I've been racing every single weekend, often twice on the weekend, since the first week of April. I'm a bit... tired. I'm still at it, still building, still collecting data. But the edges, they are slightly frayed.
Thing the second: I really don't feel like riding with anyone the day after a race. Particularly this day, after that race (for which I'd hoped to peak, perhaps even podium, but alas: things). I really don't want to be goaded into pushing pace when I really need to do a solid, easy recovery ride, just enjoy being outside. I don't want to have to have a conversation with someone I don't know, on a bike, in Massachusetts. I'm not an anti-social person (okay, well, yes... I am, sorta, but not entirely). I just have priorities when I'm on the bike. I'm not interested in "racing" a club rider on Powder Mill Road on a beautiful weekend morning, my first one "off" in months. I just want to ride my bike. Alone, preferably.
Thing the third: Jumping on a stranger's wheel and sitting there for days at a time is really, really, really bad form. It's a very tool-ish thing to do.
But here I am, out on a Sunday recovery ride, with three riders on my wheel. Very, very close on my wheel. I can hear the breathing, the incessant shifting, and the way, way too-loud "CAR BACK" admonition every few seconds.
I've been riding and racing bikes for a very long time. Perhaps too long. If there's one sense I have honed to a razor's edge, particularly after having been hit by four cars in my life, it's where the cars are. I can feel them; a sort of sixth sense. I can also somewhat more conventionally... hear them. From behind, ahead, to either side, usually for 100 yards or more. It's something you develop and to a certain degree with which you gain comfort and use to your advantage and safety. Now, if I'm doing a group/club/team ride and we're in traffic in an orderly paceline and there are cars behind, we will pass that information up the line ("car[s] back" - minus the CAPS), with varying degrees of emphasis/concern, depending on the situation (traffic volume, width of road/shoulder, size of group, etc.). It's a responsible thing to do.
But here's the thing, not necessarily thing the fourth, but a thing nonetheless. I'm riding alone (or so I hoped) on a WIDE road in good condition with an ample shoulder. I am basically riding in the gutter (as far right to the curb as is practicable) in a basic attempt to get these people to fall off my wheel or otherwise go away, I am nowhere near traffic, and I know there's a CAR BACK because I can hear the roar of the diesel engine and, oh yeah, I can see it right there next to me, four feet over. But thank you for your concern, Speed Racer.
So yes, a precious few miles into my recovery ride, I find myself amping up the pace a bit. I don't want to do this, but I also don't want to ride with these people. They are annoying me. I considered making a half-hearted attempt at "pulling off" and letting them come through and "take a pull," but I thought better of it. I am not working with them. I'm just not. I do not, under any circumstances, want to encourage a longer ride, or, God forbid, conversation, with these folks. So I just... started hammering. Yeah. Precisely what I didn't want to do. Now, I'm hammering at 65% or so of my personal maximum, but believe me... there was carpentry being performed on this little breakaway. I didn't feel bad about it. This had been going on for too long (where five minutes feels like an hour). Sometimes you gotta take folks to school. As I'm shifting into progressively bigger gears and taking the gently curving descents faster and faster, I can hear the group behind drifting back a bit, the CAR BACKs are less frequent due to oxygen debt. And then I hear something most curious.
"You missed a left!"
"Excuse me, we all missed a Left! Hey! LEFT!"
At which point I wave goodbye. And I hear the rider behind me put it all together with a muffled "Oh. Sorry."
Now, the unspoken facts assemble for all of us. The wheelsucking group of strangers had been dropped from a group ride of some sort, most likely. Or they were doing one of the established self-guided bike tours in the area (please note: bicycles may be ridden on nearly any roads on the map, not just the highlighted ones that lead to ice cream). When they saw me, in my club jersey and shorts, they mistook me for a local (or perhaps, blinded by endorphins and adrenalin [or pollen], it simply didn't matter where I was from, it only mattered that I was a guy on a bike, clearly on a solo break, whose move must be countered and neutralized on those mean streets of the weekly Sudbury Classic). And they sat on my wheel, hoping I would bring them back to their group, or back on route for their tour. When I did neither, when I simply continued to ride my bike up the road - because today I'm just a guy on a bike - it became evident to them that they would have to navigate this thing on their own. I wonder if the fact that my jersey clearly indicates that I am from Southern Maine might have been a clue to them that my route-finding was not to be trusted?
Now, I've said that I didn't want company. Not that day. But trust me, if there had been a "Hey, nice day!" or a "Where ya headed?" issued from behind (or if any of them had bothered to pull up alongside), I'd have chatted, however briefly. If they had indicated they were lost, I'd have stopped and helped (I had a [crude] map, because I'm not from around here). But to sit on my wheel at steadily increasing speed and basically yell at a stranger (me) for the better part of three miles... poor form. Not to be tolerated. So it wasn't. Hope you found the soft-serve stand...
That's how things started.
The mid-section of the ride, while mostly uninterrupted by such antics as described above, was regretably no less annoying. There was a guy who noisily jumped on my wheel heading into Bedford, spewing advice on things to watch for in the road ahead of me (hmm, why don't you come on around front?), yelling about cars, etc. (dude, I'm riding my bike up this road, thanks), but I heard him audibly self-combust as I powered up a long, moderate hill on 225. That was pretty cool. Ya know, I'm Just Riding Along...
Before we move on, I'd like to re-establish the fact that I love anyone who decides to get out and ride. You are doing a wonderful thing. Despite the fact that I have relatively nice (though I'd call them workman-like, comparatively speaking) bikes and relatively nice (I'd call them functional and practical - I don't go in for the 'luxe) clothing and accessories to accompany the riding of said relatively nice bikes, I give not a whit what you ride or wear when you do that wheely thing you do. Sure, I see lots of folks out there making things much, much harder for themselves than they need to be, wearing 12 full-on Michelin Man cotton layers in 70F sun and riding rusted machines that sound like the birdhouse at the zoo as the rider pushes the only operable gear (HUGE) up a 14% grade, popping tendons the whole way... I see these people - and I SALUTE YOU. You are FANTASTIC. You go. You'll either figure out ways to do what you want to do more efficiently, maybe you'll join a bike club and get some more info, learn a few things, maybe take your bike to the local shop, get some rehab done on that miracle of innovation and freedom... Basically make your life easier. Or you'll blow out your knees and/or keel over from heatstroke. Either way: YOU ROCK. I'm happy to see you out there.
And that's why I wave. At each and every single one of you. When we pass one another by. It's my way of saying: "Yep, you look really warm, you're wearing a camp cooler on your head and your cadence is about 20rpm, but the alternative is you on a couch eating Ho-Hos and me having to offset your healthcare costs, so pedal ON."
North of Massachusetts (and, I suspect, west and south of), it is not at all uncommon to have the wave returned. There are variations (the head nod, the grunt, the finger flick) and there are lots of opinions about the whole phenomenon of waving at other riders while riding your bike. Personally, I'm a waver. I'm gonna probably give you a wave when I'm riding my bike and I see you riding your bike unless a) I'm training and I'm doing an interval or a sprint, in which case I'm in too much pain or it's not safe to do so; b) I'm doing a hard climb and taking my hand off the bar is going to make me "paper boy" into you. If you're not a waver, that's okay, pretty much. You don't have to wave. But if you don't return a wave (I didn't say you had to offer one), sometimes I can't help wondering why. It says a certain something about you, I think.
In Massachusetts, it seems, returning waves to fellow riders is forbidden.
I must have seen 200 riders out on Sunday. Probably more. I flipped each and every one a nice, brief, discrete wave, often accompanied by a "Hey." I even waved at a few cyclists who rode by as I sat outside at a table on the sidewalk eating half a sandwich at a pizza shop in the center of town, after my ride.
In four hours of riding and offering waves to riders, I counted four cyclists in the state of Massachusetts who returned my wave. One an hour, on average. About 20 waves into the ride with no return waves I considered adopting the local custom and not waving, but, you see, by now it had become A Thing. The road was my lab. I wanted data. And there you have it. Four in 200+ returned the wave. At one point about three hours into the ride I passed a father and daughter riding on a beautiful, deserted country road. I flipped the guy a big wave (all things considered, I was very happy to be there) and he just dropped his head and weakly sprinted (downhill). I burst out laughing and couldn't stop myself from blurting "What is it with you people?"... to his daugther as she tried to hang on to dad's pace, who was now 50' up the road. And I also waved. She did not.
It's just data. But I do think it indicates something about the environment and the people who inhabit it. That something starts with "You're a," continues with a consonant or two and ends in "-ick."
I would like to specifically mention one statistical variable. I don't want to dwell on what is essentially caste levels of cycling, but of the four riders who returned the wave, one happened to be a reasonably fit racer - I think I might have even raced against him the day before in Sterling; I recognized the jersey for sure. You would think someone who puts in hundreds of weekly miles training and races at high levels of competition would be a self-involved d-bag (and in many cases, you would be correct). But, you see, this guy gets it. Yeah, we race bikes. Yeah, we compete. But not today. Today, we're just two guys, riding bikes. Like when we were kids, remember? We are over ourselves. The rest of you need to get over yourselves too. Loosen that deathgrip and return the wave. Initiate one, even.
So by now, three hours and 50+ miles in, I'm getting a little tired of Massachusetts cyclists. This is probably pretty obvious. And of course I'm saving the worst for last.
Most of the people on bikes who I found irritating in the Commonwealth last Sunday were thankfully heading in the opposite direction. Our involvement was brief. This is probably best. Yes, I am catching and quickly passing a number of cyclists heading the same way I'm going, but I'm not deliberately trying to catch and ride by anyone. It's just happening. Because... I ride my bike a lot, okay? And when I'm not completely hobbled by injury or I'm not purposely working with an absurdly low heartrate ceiling on a ride, I sorta motor a little bit, okay? So don't worry about it. Just ride your bike. And I'll ride mine. Back to the then-present, as I'm riding my bike and catching this one or that one, I'd just smile and say howdy, nice day, whatever, and I'd move on. I'm not trying to crush anyone's psyche. I'm just riding a bike. Most of the folks are cool. They're just riding their bikes too.
Most of them.
I turn the corner onto Monument/River Road. There are two riders here, on my right. Male and female. I don't look at them too closely. They are moving slowly. This is fine. The woman is on an older, steel frame with downtube shifters. A Rossin, I believe. Cool. Excellent older bike. The guy is on something else. I don't really look. I'm passing them. I am happy to see them out on this day, and I'm happy to say hi. They say hi. And now I'm moving on, up the road. Riding my bike on my solo recovery ride.
There is a slight uphill and the road turns to shite. Bad tar patching job, lousy surface, a lot of bouncing and bobbing and weaving. And a curiously conspicous amount of chain and shifting noise issuing from behind. Sounds like we have company.
I admit the guy received the tail-end, pent-up aggression of what had been a long day for me - one which should have been much nicer but just... never quite got there. The false flat keeps coming, and I just start dropping gears. I am going to make this really unpleasant (Massachusetts: Come for the Rich Colonial History, Stay for the Rage) for this guy. I am not hauling ass, but I am not letting up, either. Normally, if I was riding with a friend, I'd be pointing out road hazards as we clattered through this minefield. I am not being so kind. I am in the big ring, driving up this thing, and I'm running this guy straight into every hole I can ride over (I'm riding my burly training wheels; as it turns out he's on a tri-bike, in his aero bars, thumb-shifting like mad, which could not have been fun - I only wish he'd been on carbon wheels). I did not ask for an interval session. I did not ask for this guy to jump on my wheel. I am hurting him and I'm not even breathing hard. It sort of feels good.
But it's also really stupid, it's not what I came out here to do, he will not go away, and so I forcefully pull off, fall back and turn to him and ask in no uncertain terms if he's going to sit there all day, ya think? Because I don't even know you and this is getting really old. Where are the highways? With the cars? I'd rather ride there. He says some half-startled b.s. and notes that I'm from Maine, because that's what my jersey says. Yes, I tell him. I'd just ridden here from there today. Really? Had I? How far is that? About 130 miles. And, you idiot, I'm screwing with you. (Yes, I said that.) It is at this point that I notice his riding companion is nowhere to be seen. No. Where.
He's still in his aero bars plugging away and I am absolutely digusted and pull off, let him go. This is so juvenile (I'm 38 - he's in his late-50s or early-60s, I'm guessing) and I'm so very, very tired of being here. I give him a 10-foot gap, just easily pedalling along now up the long, false flat that continues to come at us. He takes this as an opportunity to drop the hammer and really floor it, make Mr. Racer Guy pay. So now he has an 11-foot gap, basically. I am looking behind me now and I see no one. And now I just hate the guy. Because he dropped his riding companion on a Sunday ride to "race" me up a hill. What an absolute POS. I consider my options. I can easily embarass him, fly by, tell him what I think of his efforts and be gone. Or... I can... make his life hell. Which is what I choose to do. I close the gap to about four feet. I have plenty left in the tank, even racing the day before, after 60 miles today. Aero Boy does not. This is pretty obvious as he's gasping out of the saddle and looking nervously over his shoulder every 10 seconds. So what do I do next?
Nothing. I just rode there. Four feet off his wheel (as opposed to right on his wheel, which one would do if one were on a group ride or in a race, trying to conserve energy, and which everyone in the state of Massachusetts seemed to want to do to me today, have a piece of that boy's wheel - free tows around the Commonwealth from the Northerner!). Just sat there. Threatened to come around and drop him, but didn't, for another mile. I just sat there and made the guy work, never taking advantage of said work, but requiring it nonetheless. It was awesome. And absurd. And really sad. Because there is nothing more disgusting than dropping your friend or loved one to go "race" a stranger. And I wanted him to know that.
So near the top of the hill he pops, I come around easily, and he says, "Well, I should probably go back and find my wife."
His wife. I can't believe this. My worst fear - that this guy is actually married to this poor woman - has been realized. She's at least two miles behind us at this point.
And so I offer the following:
"Oh, that was your wife? I couldn't tell by the way you rode away from her. But I was going to ask you if you were riding together and I was going to offer to drop back and pace her back up to you."
I actually had considered doing this.
"Oh that's very kind but not necessary. Have a good ride."
I said something not nice and rode away.
I wonder how common an occurrence this is for this happy couple... Sadness. And also, you Quintana-Roo-riding-knee-sock-over-tights-wearing dork (not that there's anything wrong with that), her bike was way cooler. Old school cool. Which is how you should rock it, but you don't. Not even. Make no mistake: there is hardly anything more pathetic one can do on a bike than what you did. Must have been the ride of your life. Congratulations.
I did hard tempo (which I shouldn't have done) for the last 10 miles of my four-hour recovery ride (because I am stupid). Out of frustration (and stupid). And because there was no way another Masshole was going to sit on my wheel that day. There are worse things I could have done with my time. But I can't think of any at the moment.
My Aching Back! (And hip! And leg!)
You still here?
Well, I wish I had more happy to spread. But I don't.
I will be slightly more brief. But not by much.
I have a fairly severely herniated disc. L5-S1. It has caused a metric ton of pain and suffering over the last several months. I have probably had a degenerative disc problem for years - I have a history of "throwing my back out" doing various, but I really screwed it up, but good, this winter. Doing weight lifting. Which I totally shouldn't be doing, as it turns out. But I was. And I did all the wrong things exactly the wrong ways and pretty much pancaked that sucker to the point that it prolapsed, and a fragment of the disc jutted out into my sciatic nerve in my left leg, where it sits today. Which would explain why I couldn't feel my leg - any of it - or walk for the better part of two weeks. It sorta sucked a whole lot.
Through this whole thing I've been attempting to train and race. This has been, actually - no really - sanctioned by the doctors, the p.t. guys, the etc. Because as long as I can stay active and not make the situation even worse, this is a good thing. Backs like movement. Being on the bike unweights the lumbar. This is a good thing. But it's also been very, very tough. Due to the nerve issue in the left hip, caused by the disc issue in my back, I have had marked power loss in my left leg. On the bike... this is really noticeable. Everyone has a dominant leg, but on the bike, you want things to be as even as possible and you can train to make it so. After the last re-injury of the disc, I had as much as a 90% power loss in my left leg. On the bike, I pedalled with my right leg, and the left just sorta went around in uncoordinated, blobby little half-circles. Where I once loved to do and excelled at difficult things like hillclimbing... these things become ridiculously more painful with one leg. It's curious to note how many professional cyclists suffer from the same injury, and how few of them seem to get a diagnosis or treatment. A long list of riders in the pro ranks have commented on how they have a "weird back problem" and one of their legs "just doesn't fire right." I don't think disc injuries necessarily result from riding a bike or racing. Possibly from crashing while racing, yes. But what I do think is that cyclists seriously notice when one leg isn't working like the other one, much more so than the average person suffering from such an injury, for obvious reasons. Like trying to pedal their body weight and then some up a four-mile, 8% grade climb.
The nerves have quieted down a bit and I've been able to raise the intensity of my workouts somewhat. I'm still nowhere near where I'd like to be and know I should be to be even remotely competitive, but I've made some amount of improvement. I am having a power test done tomorrow, specifically to get hard data on the imbalance (perceived or real - it's hard to tell sometimes) between the two legs. I'll continue to train and race through the end of July, at which time I'll have a second test done. If there is no relative improvment (even if I'm stronger overall, which I should be, all things being equal, which they're not), I'll most likely elect to have surgery. From there I'll pick up the pieces and try to salvage the season somehow. Perhaps by riding a trike.
Early on in my treatment for the issue my doctor advised me to "avoid surgery at all costs." After a course of physical therapy, wherein the guys basically refused to touch me (I was that bad) until I got an MRI (no, I hadn't been cleared for one), basically for fear of hurting me worse and getting sued, we got more data. I - wait for it - got an MRI (which of course they didn't want to give me for fear of my insurance provider not wanting to pay, which of course they DON'T). And 20 seconds into the review of that MRI my doctor turned to me and said, "Mike, you know what you would really enjoy? Getting your back cut open."
I guess it's pretty bad. I don't have to have the procedure (routine, I am told) done, but I am advised that it's the best thing in my case to do. And hey, everybody's doing it. I'm probably not going to get appreciably better, I could certainly get worse, I could become really nasty things, like incontinent for starters, and I live in mortal fear of having the injury return full force and destabilize our lives (yes, we have a baby coming in October) again. Still, I don't have to do it. I'm a data guy. I want more data. That said, I'm pretty sure I know what that data's going to tell me. And I can't go through the last few months again. Ever.
It's made racing hell. I have been competing. And I have been having a terrible time. I'll hold on until the first series of attacks, try to hang on until I start to slip... and I'm just off. It's one of the worst feelings in the sport, coming unglued from the pack. I do not DNF unless I require mechanical or medical attention, so I will ride the race, no matter how long, until I cross the line. But it's been very lonely out there on a number of occasions (many of which have been in Massachusetts... hmmm...). I haven't been able to train at intensities high enough, due to the injury, to prepare myself to race at... higher levels of intensity. Go figure. When I hit those levels of intensity in races or hard rides, my left leg shuts down and my aerobic systems - not to mention my right leg - can't compensate. Also go figure. I try to have fun. But I tell you, I'm beyond tired of winding up off the back, trying to organize a group of dweebs into working together to get to the line (OMG the stories - but even I'm tired of them). It's been pretty brutal. Initially I had goals of helping my team set up some really talented though inexperienced riders for good results this season, perhaps get a top 10 here or there myself... That would have been nice, truly. Now all I really want to do this year is finish a race with the pack. Is that too much to ask? Right now, it seems it is. So we ride along, and we collect data, and we try not to be angry in this, probably our last real season for a little while.
Maybe if I raced the Subury Classic Sunday Soft-Serve Series... I just need to get behind the right wheels and sit there all day, yelling at strangers. I can feel my forehead becoming engorged with entitlement already.
The balcony is closed.
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