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Discussion Starter #401
First Cypress day

My first Cypress day of the year. They haven't quite got everything open yet--in particular, some of the more interesting Raven chair runs are still closed--but it's a lot better than it was in December.

I left at 7:20 am, and got to the mountain at 9:00. So almost as long to get to Cypress as it normally takes to get to Whistler. But with the weather in the Lower Mainland right now, I should probably consider myself lucky I'm not still driving.

I tested my Flight Attendant by swapping the bindings around to goofy, then spent an hour practicing switch riding. I wouldn't say I'm an expert yet, but I definitely improved. Well worth doing, and I think it resolved the issues I was having with the FA as well.

I did some runs with the Chairman, and one run with the FA once the bindings were swapped back. Still not feeling it yet. I'm starting to consider the idea of bringing the Heritage back home. I tried out the mogul runs, and I'm still having problems with toesides. I didn't have a chance to spend long enough on it to resolve the issue. Maybe next time. I think the problem is that I start the turn with my weight too far back.

I got a chance to test my mid-layer as well, since the temps are down around -10 C on the mountain right now. Worked well.

Anyway, not a long day, but I was glad to get out there. I won't bother trying to get out so early next time. There were very few people on the mountain, so no rush.
 

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Discussion Starter #402
Some Updates on the Season

We've had insane snowfall for the last week, both on the mountains and at street level. To the point where we had to cancel our Whistler trip last week because of roads. And I couldn't get to the mountains during the 'worst' of it because roads. Note that in the Lower Mainland, it's not the snow on the roads that's the problem--it's the morons on the roads. Same result, though. You're not going anywhere.

Anyway, I finally went up to Seymour on Monday the 20th. Sigh. I don't know why I bother. It had been raining, and although there are at least a couple feet of new snow, it was all soggy snowcones. One run was all it took to send me home.

Note to self: The predictors, both on the mountain website and on snow-forecast.com, are optimistic. Always. Always assume the temps are two degrees higher, and always assume precip will be more than predicted. If over zero, it will be rain. Just accept that.

Yesterday, Tuesday, we took off for Whistler. Today, Wednesday, I headed up the mountain at the beginning of the day with the Flight Attendant. I wanted to test out the FA on chundery conditions with lots of fresh snow, plus I wanted to use the Whistler Demo Center to test out some other boards for comparison. Well, I certainly did that. Details here. But the short form is that I now own another board: a Lib Tech E-Jack-knife.

And I think I now have to get serious about getting rid of some of my extra equipment. If I leave the LibTech and the Heritage in Whistler, and keep the PYL and the Proto in Coquitlam, I can sell the FA, the West, and the Chairman. I can also get rid of the extra boots: The 32 Focus Boas, the two pairs of size 10 Lassos, and the Maysis. That will leave me with only one set of boots at each location, but I went for years with only one set of boots, so jeez.

I think I'm also going to arrange my goggles so that I use the M4 sets in Whistler and the M3 sets in Coquitlam. That way I can use all my extra lenses. Fortunately I kept the M3 magnetic inserts.

On the actual snowboarding side of things: I kept to the Whistler side today, since I was limited to 2 hours per demo board and I didn't want to spend half that on the Peak-to-Peak going there and back. But it was a great day. The snow was good, the crowds were really reasonable, and the waits were short. I discovered that part of the problem I'm having with moguls has to do with which board I'm using. When I was using the Jackknife, I was able to do my toesides a lot more quickly and dependably. Now I'm self-aware enough to understand that this is a commentary on my skills as much as it's about the boards. But however I 'score' my skill level, it's easier on some boards than on others.

I'm going up again tomorrow morning, and on Friday. Going to be some good days. Assuming I can still bend my limbs by that point. :cautious:
 

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You're doing things right with the lessons. For fitness, just go more. Hit the slopes early and build up strength by riding groomers and turning a lot. No lunch break.

Tons of snow right now. It's crazy. I'm going tomorrow but I hope they open the higher lifts as i don't want to ride the wet stuff...
 

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A Crap Day on Whistler?

Yeah, turns out Whistler can have crap days as well. There was 30 cm of new snow overnight, but then the temps went up and the rain started falling. Yes, even at the Emerald Express level. It produced some of the stickiest snow I've ever experienced. Someone at the bus stop referred to it as "peanut butter" and he ain't wrong. I did two runs and quit.

I did get a little bit of opportunity to exercise the eknife, and liked what it did. Hopefully next time I can give it the full workout.
 

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A Crap Day on Whistler?

Yeah, turns out Whistler can have crap days as well. There was 30 cm of new snow overnight, but then the temps went up and the rain started falling. Yes, even at the Emerald Express level. It produced some of the stickiest snow I've ever experienced. Someone at the bus stop referred to it as "peanut butter" and he ain't wrong. I did two runs and quit.

I did get a little bit of opportunity to exercise the eknife, and liked what it did. Hopefully next time I can give it the full workout.
Yep, I woke up 6am... saw the freezing levels and went back to sleep. No alpine for sure with the wet snow and warm temps...

Going tomorrow instead :)
 

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Discussion Starter #406
Stormy Weather

And I'm not singing it, either. This January has been a son of a bitch for weather. It has, I believe, rained every single day this month. We've broken precip records, probably by about 50% by the time we get to the end of the month. There's been a shit-ton of snow, both on the locals and on Whistler, but there's also been a shit-ton of rain to wash it away. So the net result is pretty mediocre conditions locally.

If you can get the timing just right, you can get on the mountain when there's a bunch of fresh, and that's heaven on Earth. But so far, I seem to be in Whistler when the locals get dumped on, and in Coquitlam when Whistler gets the dump. No problem being there for the rainstorms, though. :mad: I am seriously thinking of phoning the mountains and asking for protection money to stay away.

I'll probably hit my goal of 40+ days this winter, but they're sure not going to be quality days, unless things improve in February and on. And I'm going to have to be a little more militant about getting out there. We're going up for a solid week upcoming, and unless I'm so sore I can't move, I'm going up every day.

As a general statement, the advantage of Whistler seems to be that even when the snowfall is lacking, Whistler mostly manages to keep what's already there. It takes a significantly crappy weather pattern to cause rain at Roundhouse level and above. (Of course, that's exactly what I got last time up. :poop: )

On another subject, I've finally gotten my butt going and placed some equipment in craigslist. I sold the West and the FA first day. The Chairman doesn't seem to be as popular, and I haven't had so much as a bite on the boots. Not surprising, really. Buying used boots seems like it would be such a total crapshoot. You have to drive somewhere else to try on each pair. Probably pay more for gas than you would just buying new boots.

I may end up asking around for suitable donation venues for them. There must be some group that could benefit from some free equipment.

Anyway, kvetching aside, when I'm done I'll end up with the PYL and the Proto locally, and the EJack and the Heritage in Whistler. Size 9.5 Ride Lassos in both, and with the purchase of a Volcom jacket and bib combo last week, I have enough clothing in both locations. Although I probably need a second set of bib pants in Whistler.
 

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Discussion Starter #407
Whistler Day

We're up in Whistler for the week, but I started out with a really bad cold, to the point where yesterday (Monday) I elected to stay home. Probably just as well. I still felt a little wheezy today.

It also gave the mountain time to build up some snow cover. From what I'm told, last week was Armageddon around here. According to the waitress at Dublin Gate (yeah, I'm spelling it wrong. Tough), a creek actually ate its way right through the snow cover in the family bowl, and they had to stake around it. It's been snowing moderately the last couple of days, but it's over top of some pretty scritchy stuff.

I started the day on Blackcomb, and it was honestly kind of meh. Visibility wasn't great, with some light fog/mist and some really flat light areas. And for some reason I was very tentative on my board--maybe because of the gap since my last good session. Partway through the morning I took the Peak-to-Peak over to Whistler, and found the snow to be considerably better. Between that and just getting more into it, I was eventually able to get moving and start enjoying myself. I also did a couple of lines in the small jump park, which was gratifying.

I've been complaining a lot about how little snowboarding I've been able to do, mostly because of the really terrible December. But the latest version of Slopes will actually do a side-by-side comparison of your stats for current and previous seasons, both totals and YTD. According to the YTD numbers, I'm doing significantly better this year on just about everything. That made me feel considerably better. That means I'm on track for a potentially really good season, especially since late last season was kind of crappy, especially getting into late March and early April.

I had a couple of bad moments with my Lib Tech where I felt a rear edge catch when initiating a couple of right turns (to toeside). Then I remembered that I was getting the same thing last season on the PYL while doing Old Man. Yep. Same problem--a tendency to commit late to the toeside edge. And as soon as I started working that, my toeside turns improved (and stopped catching). My mogul running, in fact, was much improved today, even on some of the steeper sections.

I left about noon, partly because of thigh burn and partly because it was getting friggin' cold. Tomorrow I'm going to wear a mid-layer as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #408 (Edited)
These are the days that make it all worthwhile

I was up the mountain at opening today. It was surprisingly un-crowded, not only at opening, but all morning as well. It had been snowing for about the previous 12-18 hours (off and on), and there was a good 6+ inches of new snow. This put the icy layer mentioned in the last post far enough under for most runs, although the lower parts were still pretty scritchy in places.

I kept the "late commitment" issue with my toeside turns in mind and it made a huge, huge difference. The opposite of late commitment isn't really "early commitment" either--it's simply commitment. Once I started committing to the transition to toe edge, everything fell into place. I took one bad spill on Cougar when I lost focus on that, which just reinforced the point. From there on, toesides absolutely were not a problem.

I also applied another bit of advice from my lessons, which is to un-weight when going into the turns and push down into the rut rather than allowing myself to 'fall' into it. All of this educational goodness made the difference to my day. Granted, I'm still not great at moguls, especially on steeps, but I can handle them now. And practice will help.

Another item that I re-learned today is that it's not enough to bend your knees--you also have to keep your legs loose. Legs with bent knees held rigidly really aren't much better than straight legs. Once I started relaxing into the bumps and bounces, I started to notice an increased ability to stay in control.

There are certain techniques and bullet points like this that I seem to have to keep re-learning every season. I really need to make a list of these at the end of this season as a reference for the beginning of next season, to save some time.

I started doing the jump line today, as a regular part of my routine. I'm still a little tentative, and I haven't hit any boxes yet, but it's coming along. It's kind of funny, though--in a couple of cases I thought I'd come in too fast and I was going to overshoot the landing, only to find that I landed right in the sweet spot. I never came close to an overshoot. Another lesson, but this is one I haven't really learned yet. I continually struggle with over-braking.

I think I'm finally starting to get a handle on my chattering problem with my heelside turns as well. It's not just that I turn too sharply to heelside, although that's part of it. I also give it too much edge, which sounds like an odd problem to have. And I have my weight too far forward and don't shift it back on heelsides. I worked on this for a few runs, and some really, really good turn series came out of it.

I worked on my quick 'S' turns as well, with shallow turns. I still lose those on steeps, converting into more of a 'C' turn, but on less steep runs, I think I have them now.

And lastly, I love my E-Jack Knife. I'm going to put up a separate review, but TLDR: the EJack and the PYL are my new primary boards.

Edit: Review here.
 

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Discussion Starter #409 (Edited)
Last two days of Whistler

For this trip, anyway. Yesterday (Thursday) started out a little icy, but a steady snowfall began filling things in nicely by mid-morning. Today began the same way, but the snow turned to freezing rain after an hour. After I found myself scraping my goggles several times per run, I decided enough was enough and left early.

I do have several notes I need to write down, though. First, I continue to have a (small) problem with low-speed edge catches on the EJack. I think it's nothing more than the degree of camber on the board, which just means I need to work a little harder to adapt. It also creates a problem when skating off the lift, which is a low-speed skate. I always do a hard heelside turn to stop, but a couple of times the board has refused to go along with the hard turn, and my back foot has just slid right off. I suppose I could put a stomp pad on it, but it would be cheaper and quicker to just figure out how to maneuver the board. I think I just need a little more toe lift. The EJack seems to be a little more torsionally stiff than the specs would indicate, so my twisting techniques will have to be a little less subtle.

Next, moguls. I really feel like I have the basic techniques nailed, or at least substantially so. But I continue to have a problem with icy conditions and steep mogul fields. That's just a matter of practice, I think. Of more potential concern is that sometimes I just seem to forget the techniques that work. The two main items are: Un-weight to start the turn and commit on the toe-side edge. Legs bent and loose helps a lot too.

And finally, hard charging on slopes. I still have a reluctance to turn downhill and let it go, but I notice that this is mostly in icy conditions. When there's some loose or new snow, I'm much braver. I'm not sure that's actually a bad thing. But on moderate slopes, I found myself today doing hard S-curves for long distances and staying completely in control. It felt damned good.

I also did some more park runs today, but between the iciness and the fact that the park crew hadn't marked the jumps with that blue dye, I was really having trouble judging the approach speed. I notice that I still have a tendency to come down heelside-heavy, and I need to work on that.

On the subject of my rear-leg burn, a couple of things: first, it's getting better as I get in better shape. However, I don't want to end up with a right leg that's two inches thicker than my left, so I've been trying to investigate why I'm getting so much burn. Today, I had a revelation. I've been assuming that it was my heelside turns that were causing it, because most of the burn pain comes when I squat on the heelside. But it's not the squat that's tiring my leg, it's putting my weight tailwards on toeside turns. There is, of course, a technique in C turns where you shift your weight back through the turn to engage the edge more, but I'm not doing C turns all the way down the hill. And on normal turns, weight shifting is not required. So instead, I'm concentrating on keeping my weight centered through all of my turns, both heel and toeside. Seems to be helping.

While on the subject of turns, I think I've just about completely cured my heelside chatter. It really, in the end, comes down to skidding my heelsides more than my toesides, but I've discovered that the skid starts even earlier than I thought. When I go into a toeside turn, it's a smooth transition to the toeside edge and a smooth turn on the sidecut. But when I go heelside, the transition is more abrupt, and I immediately jerk the board around like I'm rushing to get the turn done. I don't think the board is able to re-engage the edge after this maneuver, so the whole turn becomes a skid, but bouncing because I'm trying to engage the edge late rather than slow down. So today I made a point of smoothing out the transition to the heelside edge and not immediately throwing the board into the turn. Much smoother, no chatter.

Today was, as mentioned, my last snowboarding day for this trip. I'd have to rate the trip as a resounding success. From here on through to the end of the season, I can hope to hit new milestones in progression.
 

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Discussion Starter #410
A week's worth

I've been up the mountain three times this week--once with the family to Seymour, and twice to Cypress on my own.

The family trip on Monday was a skiing session. We all stayed on Goldie. It wasn't exciting for me, but it's good to get the wife and daughter out to the mountain, so I'll still count it as a win. I did a couple of runs after they went to the restaurant, but it wasn't great snow, so I bagged it.

Tuesday on Cypress wasn't much better. There was supposed to have been snow overnight, and maybe a cm fell, but it was sketchy and foggy. I still did seven runs, but I never felt good about any of them. It was what I'd call survival mode.

Thursday was considerably better, as it was snowing for real for most of the morning. I got in some good runs, and pushed my limits a bit. In particular, I was able to do some real high-speed (for me) charging. I'm a bit surprised at how persistent my speed aversion has become, but I'm battling back and finally making some progress. I also did a lot of S-carving, which does a lot to make me feel in more control.

Mogul-riding wasn't so good, but the only good mogul fields on Cypress right now are big and steep, which I already know I have trouble with. And the two jumps on the side of the magic chair had gone unmaintained, so they had deep ruts on the landing that made it out-and-out dangerous to use the jumps. Unfortunate. After one attempt, I avoided them.

Unfortunately, just before lunch the snow turned to freezing rain. When I realized water was literally dripping off me, I packed it in.

I guess any snowboarding is better than no snowboarding, mostly, but I've been spoiled by Whistler. Going to the locals is just a kind of practice run now. Maybe if the weather was more consistent it would help.
 

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Whistler Day

I'm in Whistler for a couple of days, and I did a morning on the mountain. Only a morning, because I had commitments including a podcast interview this afternoon. I got up to the Family Bowl pretty much at 8:30, to very small crowds and not terrible snow. I was expecting hardpack because, well, the website said so. But hardpack on Whistler is not like hardpack on the locals. On Seymour or Cypress, freeze/thaw cycles combined with repeated squishing from groomers quickly produces something with the forgiving bounciness of concrete. On Whistler, it's more like snowball texture. Don't get me wrong, Whistler ice is indistinguishable from Seymour ice, but hardpack is not ice.

Anyway, it wasn't all fun and games. Moguls do not go well with many days of no new snow. They do turn to ice and concrete. Plus the ruts turn into canyons. Even the very mild moguls beside the Enchanted Forest trail were pretty much unusable.

I spent most of the morning doing the small jump line, which has spawned another note for next year--it really only takes 3-4 runs through the jump line to start to feel comfortable with it. So next year, get that done early.

The last thing worth mentioning is that my quick S-turns, and my hard S and C turns are continuing to improve. I'm also getting a lot more comfortable with downhills. Some of the steeper sections that I used to go around, or used to C-turn all the way down, I'm now straight-lining or at worst S-turning. And today wasn't the greatest of conditions. I'm not sure how much of this is just getting the hours in and how much of it is the feeling of confidence I'm getting from a board that I can trust (The EJack). Or maybe a combination of those. I'm even handling the approach to the Emerald Chair at speed, and that is a combination of hacked up and crowded with slow-moving beginners.

I had one eye-opening moment when I took off down Orange Peel, heading for Big Red chair. Just past the Chick Pea hut, the snow was so polished that my board started to turn off my line because of a slight side slope. I handled it, but it's a reminder that you're never totally in control.
 

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Discussion Starter #412
And Day 2

It snowed overnight, so I decided to get a couple of hours on the mountain before heading home. I did the First Tracks or Fresh Tracks or whatever the fuck it is, so I got a (pretty crappy) breakfast and an 8:30 start. There was somewhere around 6" of new snow on everything, which made for a nice feel to the runs. I did all the usual stuff, but I also decided on my last run to "lose myself" and just basically pick random runs until I ended up at the bottom. I think I ended up on ptarmigan, but I can't tell for sure even with the Slopes app. o_O Still, the important takeaway is that I can handle different random runs and I should be branching out now. My turns really are under control, and my only remaining problems are making sure I don't get sloppy with my technique, and making sure I rest if I'm getting too tired.

I did have one alarming incident at the bottom of the Family Bowl partway through the morning. As I reached the "Slow the Fuck Down!" area and slowed down to pass through the gate to the line-up, some asshole skier (natch) tried to pass me on my heelside. Apparently he miscalculated, or maybe I changed direction--not really sure--but anyway, he rammed right into my back. I could feel the equipment tangling, so I basically shrugged him off me and sat down. We both almost but not quite bowled over some other people who were already lined up. I was honestly so completely enraged that I didn't say a thing. I think if I had, it would have turned to violence. No one was hurt, fortunately.

But all in all, other than being really short, it was a great session. I continued to improve on my turns and my control on steeps, and I had a chance to hit some moguls today without the icy surface. I think my biggest remaining problem with moguls is that I have a tendency to want to carve the turns, and I should instead be trying to scrape off speed on each turn. I'll have to work on that next.
 

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Discussion Starter #413
FFS

So everyone got snow overnight on the locals. Why is all the snowfall happening on weekends now that I snowboard on weekdays?
 

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Whistler Day 1

No new snow for today (well, maybe a cm) but Whistler hardpack is better than locals hardpack by a wide margin. There'd been some snowmaking in this or that corner as well. I absolutely tore through all the runs around the Emerald chair, and even tried a couple of mogul runs. I did great on the steeps and decently on the moguls, so I took a couple of different runs down to the bottom of the Red chair. Even tried out Old Man, which is mostly open. It wasn't particularly impressive--not enough snow is attracting not enough people, and it is roped off about 2/3 of the way down. Another couple of snow dumps and I think it'll be great.

I eventually decided to rip down to the village and take the Excalibur up to Blackcomb--the Epic Mix app is brilliant for indicating wait times at various lifts, so I knew there wouldn't be a line-up. Unfortunately, I got a call from my wife that there was water coming out of the walls--le sigh--so off to home to deal with the emergency. It turned out the unit above us flooded the washer so that it overflowed the drain pipe. Or something. But a washer worth of water was far less than a broken pipe would have been. Still, insurance will be involved. :cry:

I'll be going up again tomorrow, and I hope to make a full day of it. The great news for today is that I didn't suffer rear leg burn, even on the long run down to the village. And they're predicting some snow overnight--not a lot, but anything will soften things up.

Oh, and the whoring has started up again. I found a pair of K2 Maysis in size 9.5, and couldn't resist.
 

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Damn, I rule!

Yeah, okay, poke fun. But today was easily my best day of the season, despite the snow being mostly meh. There was a bit of snowfall at the beginning of the day, but it didn't keep up long enough to add much of a layer. Nevertheless, the snow wasn't terrible in general, except for the polished cat tracks which have achieved the consistency of glass by this point. There are actual translucent patches now where the stuff has been compressed to literal ice.

I had a bit of a slow start on moguls this morning. Couldn't seem to make the toeside turn (my usual problem). Eventually I got it going again, though. Just a matter of paying attention to the techniques. Weight forward, commit with upper body, unweight the board. By the afternoon I actually did one run where I aggressively attacked the mogul field, trying to take it as quickly as possible. Didn't die, either.

One small problem for the day--my new Maysis boots (yes, I bought new Maysis boots, in 9.5 this time) weren't heat-molded and they began bothering my back foot. I think a molding will allow a little more space for the widest part of my foot, which appears to be a little wider on my right foot. I think I might also have that neuroma thing that Neni has mentioned, but maybe in mild form.

Anyway, the biggest thing about today is that I snowboarded from 8:30 until 2:15 or so, almost a full day. And honestly, I could have lasted until close, but the fog rolled in in the afternoon, and I really don't need that shit.

I also finally tried out Dave Murray Downhill, and managed it, although unfortunately the steepest section was also the foggiest section, so that didn't go well. But on better days, I'm ready for it.

And the second-biggest thing (and most fun) that happened today is that I found myself going down Upper Olympic with a group of pretty good snowboarders. They were weaving in and out of traffic and really booting it. And I kept up the whole way, until they turned off for Garbanzo. Great stuff.

So I have a couple of hours of snowboarding planned for tomorrow first thing before heading home. What I do will depend on weather. It's supposed to dump a ton overnight, but then it was supposed to snow significantly today. We'll see.
 

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And day 3

Not really a lot of significance to post. I got to the gondola base at about 8 am and I was the first person in the singles line. Got to the top, and got a few good runs in before the rest of the mob arrived. And I do mean mob. I'm not sure if everyone got the 24-hr flu because snow was predicted, or if this is just a normal friday crowd, but it was hella busier than Wed and Thur were. It did start to snow too, but it was just at the edge of being rain. In fact, partway down to Olympic Station, it became rain.

As usual, I had trouble with moguls on my first attempt or two. That's partly just warm-up, but TBH the two areas that I usually like to do moguls are especially rutted right now. Small, tight turns, eroded to the point of being gullies rather than valleys. I guess that's the next thing for me to work on. But I went over to what I think is Ratfink, where the moguls are steeper but also 'rounder', and had a much better time. Like yesterday, I did a round or two where I was aggressively attacking my track instead of just trying to survive.

I was intending to leave at 10:30 in any case, because we had to head home, but the snow started getting sticky (there's that freezing level thing) and that was just one thing too many. Off I went. Still, it was a great three days, although my thighs beg to differ.
 
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