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Racing, commuting, touring - Performance discrepancies b/t vintage and modern bikes?

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Racing, commuting, touring - Performance discrepancies b/t vintage and modern bikes?

Old 01-12-20, 03:53 PM
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Racing, commuting, touring - Performance discrepancies b/t vintage and modern bikes?

I would assume that racing bicycles have seen the most noticeable improvements over the years. Weight of frames and components is obvious, but what other kind of boons would your average person typically find when using modern bicycles for racing, touring or commuting when compared to their vintage counterparts?
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Old 01-12-20, 04:14 PM
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...a modern bike is much more acceptable for servicing and mechanical repair at most local bike shops. Depending on how recent it is, parts might be more readily available bought new.
I'm not certain these advantages outweigh the disadvantages. But I'm in different circumstances than the majority of bicycle tourists and commuters.

You can't really race competitively on a vintage bike unless the field is similarly limited. There are too many advantages to the modern to list them all. Gearing, rotating weight in the wheels and tyres, etc.
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Old 01-12-20, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
I would assume that racing bicycles have seen the most noticeable improvements over the years. Weight of frames and components is obvious, but what other kind of boons would your average person typically find when using modern bicycles for racing, touring or commuting when compared to their vintage counterparts?
As it always has been, it's not about the bike. 98% of riding a bike is fitness, and your average cyclist is going to see more improvement from losing 5 lbs than getting a modern bike.

Bikes are a little bit lighter, if you're talking about racing bikes at equivalent levels. It's less than most people think. When comparing the weights of vintage bikes, consider that pedals used to be included in bike weight, and that the original light sew up wheels were a lot lighter than the heavy clinchers someone replaced them with. My Masi with race wheels BITD weighed 20lbs even. With no pedals that's 19.

I suspect that the stiffer carbon frame of modern bikes is doing as much or more for performance than weight. That is possibly the biggest advantage of a modern bike.

Shifting is a bit faster and easier now, and that's nice, but it's not going to make you go faster. It is nicer to have a wider range of closely space gears. Some performance advantage from this.

Brakes, meah, dual pivots have higher MA so you don't have to squeeze as hard. Campy sidepulls have IMO better control, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if I can descend a winding rough road faster with the vintage brakes.

Clipless is better, but mostly for comfort and convenience.

Aero cross section rims with fewer spokes are going to be a measurable advantage.

This stuff matters for racing. But for your average rider, none of this matters a whole lot, at least WRT performance.

Modern touring bikes are mostly IMO too heavy and vintage ones are better. So there's that.

Last edited by Salamandrine; 01-12-20 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 01-12-20, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
You can't really race competitively on a vintage bike unless the field is similarly limited. There are too many advantages to the modern to list them all. Gearing, rotating weight in the wheels and tyres, etc.
No. The competition is entirely who you are racing, not what you are racing, at every level other than professional.
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Old 01-12-20, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
As it always has been, it's not about the bike. 98% of riding a bike is fitness...
THIS!

So many people don't put anywhere near enough time in on the bike to maximize their fitness as we have jobs and friends and family etc... The cheapest thing to do to be faster is to spend more time on the bike, but if someone doesn't have the flexibility in life to do so, or the desire to spend more time on the bike, they can get a tiny bit faster by lighting $100 bills on fire at the local bike shop. As a 46 year old washed up never was I know there will always be plenty of guys much much faster than I could ever dream of (Strava is PROOF of this!). I only care about comparing myself to myself, I've never had much desire to race, racing seems like a good way to ruin a good bike ride. Not racing gives me the opportunity to really appreciate different qualities of different bikes without fretting over the "unbearable hardship" of being slightly slower because I'm not on my fastest bike...
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Old 01-12-20, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
I would assume that racing bicycles have seen the most noticeable improvements over the years. Weight of frames and components is obvious, but what other kind of boons would your average person typically find when using modern bicycles for racing, touring or commuting when compared to their vintage counterparts?
I think your assumption is mostly correct. HOWEVER, let's take racing out of it for a second, since like others have said, trained athletes could smoke any non-trained racer on just about anything. That leaves the other two, commuting and touring. They are loosely related, and frankly, their premise is relatively unchanged. The biggest change I can see for commuters and tourers is disc brakes, specifically hydraulic disk brakes. They are just so far superior to cantis it's not even funny. Now, the old timers here will poo poo that statement for this reason or that, but the reality is that hydro disc can't be beaten in terms of functionality.
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Old 01-12-20, 10:57 PM
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Old 01-13-20, 12:29 AM
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It depends what you consider "vintage"

Saddles: There are a lot of saddles that aren't ass hatchets with domed rear ends and are lighter and cheaper than a Brooks now and don't need breaking in. There's also a lot of saddles with an ergo-hole thing.
Seatposts: 2 bolt seatposts come with allen key bolts now, because trying to fit a spanner to adjust an old Campy post is a pain. You could say some designs like that count as vintage, but they weren't exactly common like they are now. 7/8" clamp type posts still exist on Walmart bikes, but single bolt posts have trickled their way from from mid-high range bikes to lower end bikes.
Stems: Threadless stems are noticeably stiffer, the average stem is lighter, and the connection is more secure. No wonder French constructeurs tried to make threadless stems even before threadless headsets were invented as a premium custom option. Woe to the person who wants to put a Technomic on a race bike though.
Headsets: Threadless headsets are trivial to adjust and require no special tools.
Handlebars: Modern ergo (not "anatomic") bars are fairly comfortable. There are comfortable vintage bars too, but a lot that are fairly uncomfortable as well.
Bar tape: Foam tape is cheap, grippy and cushioned. Vintage ribbon or cloth tapes, often not, although they do look nice.
Brake levers: You won't see me put vintage brake levers on a bike unless its for looks or originality. They're just not as ergonomic as say a nice Tektro lever. Inline cross levers work a lot better than trukey handles too.
Shifters: 20+ gear combos at your fingertips is nice if you use them. You get your climbing gears and closer gears. It's like having both a corncob and an alpine freewheel on your bike at the same time. You can shift effectively while climbing, while braking, you can shift from the drops or the hoods, you can shift every 5 seconds to maintain tempo, modern indexing works great.
Cables: Slick stainless inners are great. Plastic lined outers and compressionless housing are even better. The only problem is they don't look like vintage spiral housing with transparent sheath.
Bottles: The valves are better, there's less plastic taste.
Bottle cages: They don't rust when they're that thing that's touching the thing that holds water and has condensation on it or cover bottles in black aluminum residue. Bottle bosses are also standard now, no clamps needed.
Bearings: They don't need yearly maintenance. Even if a bottom bracket lasts seemingly forever, constant refitting of crank arms eventually wears down the taper.
Chainrings/cogs: They have shift gates that shift very well.
Wheels: Fast wheels are faster than box rim 36 spoke wheels, and freehubs standard make broken axles a rare thing. 2:1 lacing and offset rims pretty much solve the dish issue.
Brakes: Dual pivots have better mechanical advantage and still perfectly capable of modulating speed. Discs don't wear the rims on your fancy aero wheels.
Pedals: Clipless is more comfortable and safer than toe clips with tightened straps.
Tires: High quality supple clinchers are widely available even in wider sizes now.
Derailers: They're evolution of some of the best vintage derailers and quite a bit better than the average vintage one.
Frames: Modern frames are okay. Apparently they seem less labor intensive than a nice lugged steel frame going by modern wholesale pricing. I like that vertical dropouts are standard.

Some vintage stuff isn't as bad as others, and there's a lot of bad modern stuff too. I like vintage bikes but it's great not being a retrogrouch.
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Old 01-13-20, 12:37 AM
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I rode this course today, as I often do. I had a personal best 17.4 mph average on my '73 Raleigh Super Course. I also have a fancy carbon everything, 2013 Culprit, Di2, disc brakes, and my personal best on it was 17.3, the same time I set on my '64 Legnano, with old school Campy six speed. Its not always about the bike. This is a fairly flat course, but I also set a personal best climbing Santa Susana Pass near my house on the same Super Course, when I couldn't get into the granny gear, and was forced to ride up in the middle 40t chain ring. Don't over think it, or overspend, just love what you ride and ride what you love.


Today's ride, Camarillo to Malibu and back, 44 miles.

'73 Raleigh Super Course, mostly Sun Tour and Sugino swap meet drivetrain, 26 lb. old school steel.

My 2013 Culprit, all the bells and whistles, under 20 lbs.

My 64 Legnano, had since new, my old race bike, 23ish lbs.

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Old 01-13-20, 01:53 AM
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One of the biggest advances in bicycling, depending how old you consider vintage to be, is the invention of Brifters or Ergo brake lever/shifters. These allow you to shift from the brake body and also means you're more likely to shift more often and that greatly improves the efficiency of your ride since you use less energy by not sitting in a gear that's not quite right for you at that time. It also makes shifting on hills much quicker and positive. I have Campagnolo 9-speed Mirage Ergo levers on my touring bike for those reasons.

Cheers
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Old 01-13-20, 10:54 AM
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I don't think it is black and white....especially with many people putting what IMHO the two best tech improvements in bike technolgy dual pivot brakes, and brifters on vintage bikes

Racing: as noted at a pro level bikes current technology rules, but the bikes are essentially disposable and and at any level much below that it is all the rider. I think a better rider than I would be not at a large disadvantage, equipped with with my 85 team miyata with modern gear (below) Other than that it is not bike stuff, like power meters, HR monitors, etc, and training techniques that make the difference.......super little details like separate washing machines for each rider to avoid possible iritation

Commuting: dual pivot brakes, brifters and hugely better lights are modern tech that make a difference

Touring: What can be better than a Miyata 1000? maybe adding the brifter?

best of both worlds 85 team miyata, with 105 (5800). Use for almost every thing

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Old 01-13-20, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Slightspeed View Post
I rode this course today, as I often do. I had a personal best 17.4 mph average on my '73 Raleigh Super Course. I also have a fancy carbon everything, 2013 Culprit, Di2, disc brakes, and my personal best on it was 17.3...

SUPER COURSE POWER!!!!!!


I'm really looking forward to getting some more miles on mine this spring, it was crazy how many PR's I set on it in the ~150 miles I rode on it around Christmas/new years...
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Old 01-13-20, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
One of the biggest advances in bicycling, depending how old you consider vintage to be, is the invention of Brifters or Ergo brake lever/shifters. These allow you to shift from the brake body and also means you're more likely to shift more often and that greatly improves the efficiency of your ride since you use less energy by not sitting in a gear that's not quite right for you at that time. It also makes shifting on hills much quicker and positive. I have Campagnolo 9-speed Mirage Ergo levers on my touring bike for those reasons.

Cheers
I believe that humans have a wider "efficient cadence range" than the bike industry wants us to believe.

I like a close spaced cassette, but I also like a wide spaced cassette, neither correlates to faster or slower times on the bike.
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Old 01-13-20, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
Modern touring bikes are mostly IMO too heavy and vintage ones are better. So there's that.
Which is why God gave us Cannondales. 😎😉
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Old 01-13-20, 01:02 PM
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Personally, I think brifters are a wash as far as any performance advantage. The left/front changer is more awkward than a simple DT lever. They are heavier and somewhat prone to failure. They do make it easier to shift if you're on a very rough undulating road in a paceline, where you'd need both hands on the bars. The main appeal of brifters is that they make newbies more comfortable and secure, since you don't ever have to let go of the bars. Also, they are expensive and in a vulnerable location. No doubt a good profit item for Shimano and everyone else.

Originally Posted by stardognine View Post
Which is why God gave us Cannondales. 😎😉
It's mostly forgotten now, because they've been around for decades, but once upon a time Cannondales received a whole lot of vitriol from the traditionalist types. Now they are vintage...
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Old 01-13-20, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
The main appeal of brifters is that they make newbies more comfortable and secure, since you don't ever have to let go of the bars.
There is truth to this!

I'm new to DT shifters, and I'll admit that I get a touch nervous when I I'm going 40+ MPH and I reach down for my last gear. If I know I'll be going 40+ I generally put it in the little cog "early" so I don't have to ride one handed at high speed, but at least when shifting to the little cog there is no adjustment required, just throw the lever all the way forward.
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Old 01-13-20, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by shoota View Post
I think your assumption is mostly correct. HOWEVER, let's take racing out of it for a second, since like others have said, trained athletes could smoke any non-trained racer on just about anything. That leaves the other two, commuting and touring. They are loosely related, and frankly, their premise is relatively unchanged. The biggest change I can see for commuters and tourers is disc brakes, specifically hydraulic disk brakes. They are just so far superior to cantis it's not even funny. Now, the old timers here will poo poo that statement for this reason or that, but the reality is that hydro disc can't be beaten in terms of functionality.
I probably qualify as an old-timer, and I'm up for a little tongue-in-cheek devil's advocacy here.

Soooo messy when they leak, and without special, bulky tools, you're riding home with no brakes.

My team of 100 mini Mike Ditka's is sticking with canti's or dual-pivots, or even... centerpulls.
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Old 01-13-20, 02:01 PM
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As a young guy I rode the vintage stuff when it was new (late 70's, early 80's). I kept my bikes a really long time, but then got away from riding for a while. When I came back to it 15 or so years ago, things had changed a lot, so confusing I went with what I knew, "vintage".

I upgraded over time, did some wrenching myself, etc., so I learned what the effects and pitfalls were. The old stuff, especially Campy, had more compatibility and odd tool problems. New bikes don't need much more than a couple of Allen wrenches. Gearing is wider now with compact doubles, and the rear derailleurs can handle the range. Brifters, faster shifting, so you don't unconsciously slow down while you shift- especially noticeable on a group ride if you try to hang with DT shifters. New Ultegra brakes are so much better than old Super Record! Sealed bearings= less maintenance
Carbon, especially forks and seatposts, saves easily 1 1/2# and also makes for a smoother ride. Modern frames with shaped tubes (including steel like mine) are stiffer in the right places, like the bottom bracket.
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Old 01-13-20, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
Personally, I think brifters are a wash as far as any performance advantage. The left/front changer is more awkward than a simple DT lever. They are heavier and somewhat prone to failure. They do make it easier to shift if you're on a very rough undulating road in a paceline, where you'd need both hands on the bars. The main appeal of brifters is that they make newbies more comfortable and secure, since you don't ever have to let go of the bars. Also, they are expensive and in a vulnerable location. No doubt a good profit item for Shimano and everyone else.



It's mostly forgotten now, because they've been around for decades, but once upon a time Cannondales received a whole lot of vitriol from the traditionalist types. Now they are vintage...
My Campagnolo 9-Speed Mirage Ergo levers were put on my bikes in 2001. That's nearly 19 years ago and I haven't had any trouble at all with them. What I like about those levers is that the left one (controlling the front derailleur) is a ratchet type not an index mode one and thus it's extremely easy to set up, and it's easy to trim the front derailleur when riding.

Also, all my brake levers are snugged up so they stay in position when riding even when pulling hard on them in climbs, but they can move if a crash happens and they hit something.

Many years ago I had a so-called Cannondale black touring bike with 27" wheels and side-pull brakes. A harsher riding bike I've never been on and I gladly sold it.

Cheers
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Old 01-13-20, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
I believe that humans have a wider "efficient cadence range" than the bike industry wants us to believe.

I like a close spaced cassette, but I also like a wide spaced cassette, neither correlates to faster or slower times on the bike.
I'll never forget the time or the ride when I rode an Asahi MTB with 15 gears from Toronto Ontario to Lindsay Ontario Canada.The gears had had pretty big jumps between t hem and on the hills I'd shift to the next gear and then spin until the bike slowed to that gear. That's why I like 21 speed setups when they became available - the jumps between gears were smaller. On my 27-speed touring bike I have it set up with 7 fairly close cogs and 2 wider jump bailout cogs. Then there is my "FUN" MTB that also has 27 gears with 28-38-48 chainrings and a 11-19 teeth corncob cassette for riding the gently rolling hills on some of the routes I ride around here. If I put 1.5" or 1.25" smooth tires on that bike it's a real pleasure to ride.

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Old 01-13-20, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
There is truth to this!

I'm new to DT shifters, and I'll admit that I get a touch nervous when I I'm going 40+ MPH and I reach down for my last gear. If I know I'll be going 40+ I generally put it in the little cog "early" so I don't have to ride one handed at high speed, but at least when shifting to the little cog there is no adjustment required, just throw the lever all the way forward.
I think one area where Brifters or Ergo levers excel is on large frame bikes. It's so much easier to shift with either than reaching all the way down to the downtube for that downtube mounted shifter. I like my 9-speed Campagnolo Ergo levers on my touring bike when it's loaded and I'm climbing a long hill band bucking a headwind or worse strong gusting cross-winds. Being able to shift gears in those conditions and being able to keep both hands on the brake lever or handlebar is so much safer.

BTW, some of my vintage steel bikes do have downtube shifters.

Cheers
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Old 01-13-20, 06:48 PM
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Major difference:

Higher troll factor with steel.

"Better" is subjective, and it depends on the experience you want. There certainly are differences, and even almost universally recognized "improvements" in ergonomics, reliability, function, appearance, etc.

Like the re-naming of liberals as "progressives." Progress is in the eye of the beholder, and appropriating a definition because you want it to fit you is simply human nature. Just an example about words, mind you. Language is cool stuff.

It's all human nature, and many of them are wonderful creatures. Some are woeful.

I have all kinds of road bikes. I still can't decide what's better, worse, preferable at any given moment. Some just work better for me on a given day, in a given mood.

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Old 01-13-20, 06:49 PM
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Installed first set of brifters this summer. Campy Chorus 11 speed der with Record brifters and crank. Work really well, however since spending 40 years with bar ends, I still reach for them and have to correct course to the brifters. Still use bar ends on touring bike for absolute confidence of zero failures out in timbuktu. Been thinking of going back to bar ends, but then what to do with this new Chorus and Record stuff?
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Old 01-13-20, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
I'd shift to the next gear and then spin until the bike slowed to that gear.
I rode a century with 5000' of climbing on a resto mod 1963 3 speed of mine, the gears are %33 apart, notably further apart than a 15 speed MTB, I was amazed at how rarely I felt I couldn't select an appropriate for the riding, occasionally I would downshift to 2nd form 3rd to realize that 2nd was to low and I'd shift back to 3rd and just throw more cat food at the cranks and away I went. I did complete that century with an average speed of 16 MPH, I was shooting for sub 6 hours, but didn't quite get that, that was also when I didn't really know how to run Strava and my phone was in my pocket so it wasn't pausing when I was walking around at aid stations and the like, so there is a decent chance I did the century in less than 16 rolling hours... Would I have been faster on my 20 speed carbon road bike? Yea, but probably only by 1 mile an hour or so. This experience is why I believe that humans have a much wider "efficient cadence range" than the bike industry wants us to believe, how else are they going to sell you their newest 14 speed rear end?
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Old 01-13-20, 07:32 PM
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HTupolev
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Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
I did complete that century with an average speed of 16 MPH, I was shooting for sub 6 hours, but didn't quite get that, that was also when I didn't really know how to run Strava and my phone was in my pocket so it wasn't pausing when I was walking around at aid stations and the like
People are usually referring to elapsed time when talking about how long it took to complete a course, not moving time. If someone does four 400m dashes at a 59-second pace, but with a bunch of rest in between, they wouldn't claim to have run a sub-4-minute 1600m.

Yea, but probably only by 1 mile an hour or so.

1mph is a pretty big difference. More than 20 minutes on a six-hour century!
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