Sea Otter Stories: Hans No Way Rey

I’m standing in the shade near the GT Bicycles booth at the 2017 Sea Otter Classic when I turn around and see an old guy performing crazy flatland tricks on a 90s GT Zasker mountain bike with 3 spoke nylon wheels. A beat after he says something in German-accented English, I suddenly realize I’m standing right next to Hans Rey. I automatically shout “No way!” without thinking about it.

The young, early 20s guy who owns the vintage GT obviously knows the reputation of Hans Rey, and grins ear-to-ear as the Mountain Bike Hall of Famer who popularized trials riding autographs his old Zaskar.

Hans Rey signs autographs - I literally said "No Way" when I bumped into him.

A crowd of children soon appear, and Hans happily signs his name “Hans No Way Rey” for them.

Hans Rey signs autographs - I literally said "No Way" when I bumped into him.

GT has been sponsoring Rey since the 1980s, and I’m thrilled to see that they continue to do so in spite of their cycles of ups and downs in the bike industry.

At Sea Otter, GT displayed their “Grade Carbon Pro” endurance carbon fiber endurance road bike which GT advertises is for “the gravel road to work” which really appeals to my idea that bikes should be about utility as well as fun. The seatstays are those low-modulus resin-impregnated glass fibers (as opposed to higher modulus carbon fiber used for the rest of the frame) that twang like bass strings when you pluck them, and give a ton of cushion at the rear end. It’s pretty incredible. Other features include fender mounts, SRAM Force 1×11 drivetrain, SRAM HRD brakes, WTB Exposure 32c tubeless bead tires on 700c wheels. This bike punches a lot of the right buttons for me; I wish I had decent photos of it.

Categories: GT, mtb, Sea Otter | Leave a comment

Sea Otter 2017 Stories: The Legend of Joe Breeze

I arrived early for the 2017 Sea Otter Classic with vendors still setting up at Laguna Seca Raceway. I’m getting the lay of the land in the morning chill when I see a grandfatherly gentleman by himself unloading boxes and adjusting bikes at the Breezer Bikes tent and, whoa! It’s the legendary Joe Breeze himself!

I caught Joe Breeze setting up at the Breezer Bikes booth at #seaotterclassic early this morning. He reminisced about Jobst Brandt's quirky mansplaining personality.

Joe is a wonderful story teller so we begin to shoot the breeze (*ahem*) about that Breezer with serial number 2 sitting in the truck behind him. This bike was built before Tom Ritchey came onboard, and then I discover Breeze used to ride with the late Jobst Brandt, whose legendary adventure rides on road bikes with sew-up tires through the 1970s are the stuff of legend in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Besides his adventure rides and that famous book about bike tires, Jobst is perhaps best known for his acerbic assertions on all aspects of bicycle and transportation technology. He once spent 20 minutes at the Foster Freeze in Boulder Creek, CA, for example, describing to me precisely why yellow is the only acceptable color for a bicycle frame.

Breeze shared one of his Jobst Brandt experiences with me. They were riding and Brandt asks, “Joe, have you wondered why oil patches on the road are shaped like ellipses?”

Breeze admits he’s never thought about this issue, but stuff like this apparently kept Brandt up at night as he engaged himself in the Socratic method puzzling over oil stains. “Oil is a liquid, and drops of liquid falling in a vacuum are spherical.” Brandt then explains in great detail the physics of a drop of oil as it leaks through an imperfection in the oil pan seal, hits atmospheric drag to flatten the sphere, then splatters on pavement which further deforms oil pattern.

Joe Breeze’s JRA story

Later, my buddy Cain Ramirez rolls up on his steel Cinelli fixed gear bike. Joe Breeze immediately takes notice and tells of the time he met Cino Cinelli.

In 1971, Breeze was Just Riding Along in Milan when he crashed into the back of a Nash Rambler convertible. He flipped up and over, landing in the rear seat. The three European occupants of the front seat look back in alarm at this crazy American teen. The front fork of Breeze’s bike is bent, so the driver gives Breeze and his bike a lift to the Cinelli factory.

Breeze takes his damaged bike into the factory, but the technicians refuse to touch it. “This is Cinelli, we do not work on Legnano bike. But Signor Cinelli, he back from lunch in 10 minutes, maybe he fix.”

And sure enough, the legendary Cino Cinelli bent the fork back into ridable condition for a 17-year-old Californian, and Breeze tells me this chance encounter changed the direction of his life. “Who knows what I’d be into today if I didn’t crash in Milan that day in 1971.”

Breezer Radar gravel  / adventure bike

And oh yeah, Breezer had some cool new bikes at Sea Otter: the 2018 Doppler, the Inversion, and the Radar. I liked them all. I’ll describe them in more detail later if I find the time, but in the meantime you can see photos in my Sea Otter 2017 photoset.

I’ll post more Sea Otter stories throughout the week, but you can hear these stories for yourself if you show up early enough to meet these very accessible bicycle legends for yourself.

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The Official Post-Pre Announcement!

[Please note there will be no post Friday, April 21st as I'll be doing "ride reconnaissance," but I'll be back on Monday the 24th with regular updates.  The Bike Forecast will not be affected.]

Remember how yesterday I pre-announced the pre-ride to the Gran Fondon't?

Well know I'm officially announcing it, and here's the official flyer.  Officially:

So I guess everything after the flyer qualifies as a post-announcement.

Also, please note that officially the official name of this ride is the "BSNYC BOOMB! Pre-Fondon't Ride."  The "BOOMB" stands for Beers On Old Man Brooks.  This is because the Brooks Bicycle Saddle-Making Concern is buying the beers afterward.  Isn't that nice of them?

You bet it its.

Plus, if you show up on a bike equipped with a Brooks saddle you get...well, you get nothing, apart from perhaps the sense of smug self-satisfaction that comes from owning a Brooks.

"I want to join this ride of yours!," you're now shouting into your monitor or smartphone.  "How do I register?"

You don't.  Just show up.  For past rides I've asked people to RSVP via email, but screw that.  Just come to the corner of Broadway and 9th Avenue in Manhattan this coming Saturday morning and be ready to roll at 8:30am:

It's very easy to get there via the Harlem or Hudson River Greenways, the subway, or even the Metro North, but if you're still confused then maybe this isn't the ride for you.

The Route

We'll ride north through Van Cortlandt Park into Westchester, up the South County Trailway for a bit, then cut over over to the Old Croton Aqueduct (OCA) for the return trip.  The OCA is unpaved and there are roots and rocks.  While this will justify your recent purchase of a state-of-the-art gravel bike, your regular road bike will work just as well, though I'd recommend tires over 25mm wide--which you're undoubtedly using anyway, because skinny tires are like soooo out of style.

The South County and the OCA are flat, but we'll go up a couple of decent climbs in between.  If you've never ridden the OCA it's a lot of fun.  We can also work in a coffee stop.

I still haven't decided where we'll go for beers afterwards, but most likely it'll be reasonably close to where we started.

Total distance will probably be around 30 miles, give or take.

If you need a GPS route map complete with elevation and exact mileage then maybe this isn't the ride for you.

The Pace

My racing days are long behind me and as the father of seventeen (17) children I don't have much hustle left in me.  If you want pacelines and attacks I'm happy to point you towards the Gimbels Ride.  In fact there's a pretty decent chance I'll be rolling up in cutoffs and a t-shirt because that's where I'm at in life.  At the same time it's not like I have all day to futz around, so you should be able to get over a hill or two and handle your bike on dirt.  This should be a spirited ramble as opposed to a slog.

Your End of the Bargain

As I mentioned yesterday, in exchange for the free beer and my expert guidance through suburbia I ask that you snap some pictures during the ride and email me at least one good one afterwards, along with some words for context if warranted.  I will then incorporate these pictures into a future post which will most likely appear on the Brooks blog.  So if you've ever complained about my shitty photography, now's your chance to do better.

That should about cover it, but if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments.  Otherwise see you Saturday!


--Wildcat Rock Machine

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Where the hell have you people been all day??? (Also, a low-key pre-announcement.)

Remember awhile back when I said that there was a 59% chance I'd curate some kind of Pre-Fondon't?

And remember how I said that if it did happen I'd give you short notice?

Well, here's your short notice:

Yes, that's right, THIS VERY SATURDAY, I'll lead whoever feels like it on a moderate-length mixed-terrain ride.  Then, we'll stop for beers, which I'm pretty sure I can get one of my generous sponsors to pay for!  How's that sound?

Of course, this being merely a pre-Fondon't build-up ride, this is merely a pre-announcement for the pre-Fondon't ride.  I'll give you all the exact details between now and Friday, mostly because I'm still inventing them.  That will be the Actual Announcement.  Nevertheless, I'm sure you have many questions in the meantime, so here's an FAQ:

Why the short notice?

Two reasons:

1) As a semi-professional bike blogger, noted author, father of 17 children (and mother of 9), and lead guitarist of the rock group Unicorn Glitterfuck, I'm incredibly busy--so busy it's difficult to find a free day to ride bicycles in a recreational fashion.  Therefore, instead of waiting for the perfect day, which will probably never come, I just figured, "Fuck it, let's do it Saturday;"

3) Giving short notice means nobody has time to do anything stupid like travel to get to this thing, and that there will probably only be a few of us. 

What time will it start?

Probably 8:30am.  I'll get back to you.

Where will we meet?

Probably Upper Manhattan or the Bronx.  Or maybe Central Park but I don't know if I feel like going all the way down there.  I'll get back to you.

What's the route?

We'll head north via the Bronx, cut a swath through lower Westchester County, and wind up back in the Bronx at a place where beer is served.  There will be pavement, dirt, and some trespassing.  I'll give you more details in the official announcement.  Total distance will probably be in the neighborhood of 30 miles.

What do you want from me?

Ah, yes, I'm glad you asked.  You know that annoying thing they do at weddings where they put a disposable camera at every table and ask the guests to take pictures?  (Come on, you remember: you got drunk and thought it would be hilarious to take a picture of your own crotch.)  Well, we all have cameras in our phones now that we're living in the future, so all I ask is that afterwards everyone send me at least one (1) photo from the ride (and not of your own crotch) along with a few words for context if warranted.  I will then incorporate some of these into a future post.

In other words, you'll be doing my job for me.

All of this is already WAY too many words to say "Let's all ride on Saturday."  Stay tuned for more details.

I love you,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

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Crazy eBike race at Sea Otter, 2nd Edition

Bosch eBike Systems invites racers to participate in the 2017 Haibike eMTB Race epowered by Bosch, which will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 21st at the Sea Otter Classic.

Bosch’s Brian Sarmiento competes in the 2016 “Industry Challenge,” part of the Haibike eMTB Race epowered by Bosch. Contributed press photo from Bosch

This year’s eMTB race looks to be bigger and better than ever, with a new race course that will test even the best of riders. Scheduled for four laps, each 2.9-mile lap will feature 373 feet of climbing — with 1.4 miles featuring a max grade of 24 percent, which will put these eMTBs to the ultimate electric test. The downhill singletrack sections are fast and flowing with many obstacles along the way including two rock gardens and the “Gravel Speed Trap” — a gravel section designed to stop cars going more than 200mph.

“Last year we had over 110 riders participate in the race, which was an unbelievable turnout for the first year,” said Claudia Wasko, General Manager of Bosch eBike Systems Americas. “This year we look to eclipse those numbers on a new race course that will challenge even the best eMTB riders.”

Even if you don’t own an eBike, you can reserve a bike from among the several vendors offering free demos during the race (first come first serve, subject to availability) after registering for the race online.

Mountain Bike Hall of Famer Nat Ross is participating in the race for the second year in a row, along with other big names like former Tour de France participant Ted King (Cannondale brand ambassador) and Martin Frey (Team Bulls). “The eMTB course has a bit of everything in it and challenges even the best bike handlers in the world,” Ross said. “The sport is evolving quickly and eMTB is here to stay. I’m ready to rumble!”

The eMTB race is open to both men and women who will compete in six age categories and a Bosch sponsored “Industry Challenge” to benefit the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). The Bosch Industry Challenge for NICA is open to anyone who currently works in the cycling industry. The fastest racer will win a $2,500 purse to donate to one of the 19 NICA leagues operating across America —winner’s choice! Additionally, Bosch will contribute another $2,500 towards NICA’s efforts to expand interscholastic cycling.

Categories: ebike, Sea Otter | Leave a comment

"Bloviate" is "voilate" with the letters rearranged and then a "B" in front. Think about it.

Well, you missed one heck of a talk about the mountainous biking yesterday evening, unless you didn't:

By the way, regarding the bike above...titanium rims?

Spinergy titanium rims, 21 speeds, dual mountain and street bike. Bike is a mountain bike that has been updated to ride in mountains and streets. Price negotiable. contact Jeff. 

I certainly don't remember Spinergys coming in titanium but perhaps I've blocked it out.

Anyway, if at the start of my blogging career 10 years ago you'd told me that one day I'd be making wisecracks about mountain bikes in the basement of an REI I'd have said, "Hmmm, that sounds about right."  By the way, here's what I look like when I'm in the middle of bloviating:

And here's what it looks like when I'm catching a baby that's been thrown at me:

Never say, "No applause, just throw babies" because there's always someone who'll take you literally.

Anyway, NYCMTB put together last night's event, and if you ride the knobbly-tired bicycles around here you should find some way to support them.  This would go a long way towards assuaging my guilt, because these people do a lot of hard work to maintain the trails, whereas my only "contribution" is making stupid jokes about dropper posts.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the answer is yes, somebody did arrive by pennyfarthing:

And this very same person was kind enough to gift me with another 19th century relic.  Ever seen one of these?  It's called a "book," apparently:

Basically you just open it up and swipe:

Pretty cool!

I look forward to reading it, which I will do just as soon as I get a new prescription for my monocle.

And with that I accepted my customary payment in Clif bars and was on my way:

(It was a two-box night, which means my 17 children can eat for a week.)

You'll forgive me then for signing off, since last night's event kicked at the ungodly hour of 7pm and thus kept me out way past my bedtime.  It was dark when I got home and everything!

See you tomorrow.

I love you,

--Wildcat Rock Machine (aka "Unicorn Glitterfuck")

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Secure bike storage in the garage or shed

Bike theft from a garage, shed, or the back porch inside of a fenced yard is a fairly common problem around these parts. One solution is to install a floor anchor to which you can cable your bike.

Later this week at the Sea Otter Classic, Hiplok will introduce another option: the “Airlok,” a secure wall-mounted bike hanger for those who want to display their bikes, or if you need to keep your floor area clear.

hiplock airlok wall mount bike security

Secure wall fixings, hardened steel framework, and a secure lockable bolt combine to keep your bike safe while displayed on your wall. An impact resistant outer casing further prevents access to the framework and fixings. Hiplok says providing the Airlok design accommodates mulitiple styles and sizes of bicycles, while the rubberized mouth prevents frame scratch. The Airlok will be available beginning in May for $195.

Hiplok also announced Z LOK, an armored ratcheting cable-tie style lock to discourage crimes of opportunity from car racks. Z LOK is a 40cm long security tie consisting of a reinforced steel core with a durable nylon outer. Its double-sided ratchet system allows it to automatically lock when looped into place, and unlocks only with the included universal key. This looks like it might be convenient for quick coffee-shop stops at low risk locations during long road rides, too.

Hiplok cable tie / zip tie Z LOK

You can see all Hiplok products on display at the Sea Otter Classic this weekend in Monterey, California. The Z LOK will be available for purchase at Sea Otter.

Categories: Sea Otter, security | Leave a comment

The Future’s So Shocking I Gotta Wear Pads

***Importent Reminder***

Tonight this is happening:
Rest assured that I've been preparing assiduously--not by working on my presentation (I still have no idea what I'm going to say) but by riding one of those stupid all-terrain bicycles with only one gear ratio:

And then going to the taco truck:

I've also got caps and stuff from Walz to give away, and according to UPS there's a box o' coffee from Just Coffee currently en route to my palatial estate, so if all goes according to plan at least some of you will be going home capped and caffeinated.

Plus, if you're willing to reach into your wallet, purse, or wherever you keep your currency, you can buy a copy of my latest book, The Ultimate Manual Of Velocipeding on Velocipedes: A Velocipede Primer, which I will even bedazzle for you:

So don't miss it, because New York Magazine called it "the hottest ticket in New York City:"

So there you go.

In other news, remember the Specialized FutureShock?  It's that road bike suspension system you're not using:

Well, a friend alerted me to the drama of professional cycling person Niki Terpstra's crash due to a failed FutureShock:

Apparently, despite the vertical frame compliance and comfort across all of the major touch points afforded by the FutureShock system, Terpstra just wanted an old-fashioned rigid bicycle.  However, instead of giving him one, Specialized gave his FutureShock some Viagra so it would behave like one.  The results were disastrous:

The FutureShock system relies on a cartridge between the stem and the steerer that allows the cockpit to move in response to road input. According to Specialized, Terpstra requested a rigid component so his handlebars did not move, so Specialized developed such a piece. A pre-production rigid cartridge ultimately made it onto Terpstra’s bike due to a communication error. This cartridge was not approved for racing use. Quick-Step’s seven other riders used the non-rigid FutureShock system during the race.

Specialized, of course, apologized profusely:

Heading into Paris-Roubaix, a few of our riders asked to try a rigid cartridge as well as the fully-active Future Shock on their new Roubaix bikes. In response to this, we developed a pre-production rigid steerer cartridge and later an approved engineered cartridge for the race.

In the days leading up, Niki Terpstra chose to race the rigid option. Unfortunately, a missed communication on the Specialized team resulted in the pre-production part remaining in Niki’s bike instead of being replaced by the approved engineered part. Ultimately, this failed during the race. All other riders raced on Future Shock equipped bikes.

Though I can't help thinking this is the Fredly equivalent of putting a horse head in your bed, and a message to the world that all Freds who refuse the forward march of technological progress will be systematically eliminated.

As for me, I'll stick to my Rivendell road bike suspension system, thankyouverymuch:

Yes, between that and my Rivendell electronic barend shifters I'm enjoying all the hot new cycling trends while staying true to the retrogrouch ethos:

And yes, of course there's a friction option:

Now all I have to do is add a Rock Bar and I can do some serious "weighted cycle training:"

Train Smarter!

- Bring your training to the next level with the Rock Bar. Designed for use in weighted cycle training, the Rock Bar is available with specially designed, fully adjustable weights.

- The design allows the Rock Bar to be attached to the bike at the best locations for weighted cycling...below your center of gravity. Attach below the down tube or the top tube.

- Adding weight to the bike while cycling will increase your strength and power at your ideal cadence. With today's bikes getting lighter and lighter, it is important now to incorporate weights while cycling. The Rock Bar is available with 7 pounds of weight.

Guess the new question is going to be #whatballastyourunning.
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Holy Thursday, I Just Realized It’s Good Friday Tomorrow!!!

So tomorrow is Good Friday.

What's so good about it?

I won't be posting, that's what!

I will, however, be back on Monday, April 17th with regular(ish) updates, and of course the Bike Forecast will continue unmolested.

Another wonderful thing about Monday is that I'll be bloviating about the burgeoning pastime of "all-terrain bicycling" at the REI in the popular South of Houston* neighborhood in Manhattan:

(*It's not pronounced "Houston" like the city, it's pronounced "Dallas" for reasons unknown.)


--My highly subjective opinions about bicycles presented as immutable facts;
--Exciting giveaways, including caps from Walz and coffee from Just Coffee;
--The opportunity to pay NYCMTB money in exchange for a copy of my latest book, which I will even sign and bedazzle for you if you'd like:

And in terms of practical advice, I'll clue you in on how to get to and from some pretty good dirt riding in and around New York City without having to rely on a car (or an expensive bouncy bike, for that matter).

This could lead to a whole new career for me:

"If you think abut the disc brake in everything, whether it’s the car or the motorcycle and also the mountain bike, it’s so logical because with the disc brake you can have so much more precise control, and I believe it’s adding more safety, not danger," Sinyard said. "If anything the chainring on the front is the more dangerous piece. The disc brake is the future. In the future we won’t look at road bikes that don’t have disc brakes. They will all have them.

Well in the present I won't look at Specialized bikes regardless of what braking system they use, so I suppose that's fair.

Of course, Sinyard is specifically talking about the Pro Freds here, but the fact is once he conquers them the Amateur Freds will then fall like dominos (or like triathletes), since Amateur Freds grow squeamish and uncomfortable when their bikes no longer reflect what the pros are using--and that means he gets to sell them new frames, new wheels, new everything.

It's genius.  GENIUS I TELL YOU.

And for the record, let me say I'm all for it, because I can't wait until all the little Freddies are riding around with these stupid things on their bikes:

(It's the 21st century "lawyer lip.")

But don't worry, little Freddies, the ones on your bike will be crabon:

Pictured here are pre-production 3D printed prototypes, the finished product will – unsurprisingly for Tune – arrive in carbon fibre.

If nothing else, the elegant simplicity of the road bicycle has now gone the way of rotary phones and, well, pretty much every other kind of phone.  For that matter, so has the idea of a quiet road bike.  Hit your local Fred route and you'll be amazed at how loud road bikes have become.  Between the whooshy crabon wheels and the incessantly ticking BB-whatever bottom brackets they already sounded rickety enough; then came the discs and the concomitant rotor rub whenever the road surface was anything but completely dry.  Throw these new disc brake pie plates into the mix and the road bike in the future is sure to sound like a real rattletrap.

I love it.

And with that, I'm off, but will see you back here on Monday.

Ride safe.

I love and miss you,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

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Wednes·day ˈwenzdā,ˈwenzdē/

Do you long to be liberated from the chains of drivechains?  Do you dream of a bike with the mag wheels of a vintage BMX freestyler, the dork factor of a folder, and the geometry of an early 19th century Laufmaschine?  Well, your wait is finally at an end, thanks to...this thing:

Of course the bicycle took its current form like 130 years ago and since then we haven't looked back.  (Especially the triathletes, because when they look back they crash.)  So why then are we poised to make a return to the old-timey velocipede?  Well, because now that we have disc brakes the technology has finally caught up with it:

Yes, disc brakes can breathe new life into any contraption no matter how dated, which is why I'm looking forward to the return of the pennyfarthing:

The massive front wheel diameter will have you rolling over gravel with ease, though you'll definitely want to shift your weight back when applying that powerful brake, because taking a header on a pennyfarthing is easy enough as it is:

You learn something new every day, and today I learned a pennyfarthing crash sounds like a Victorian-era thief dropping a sackful of silver while he's escaping through the window.

BUT WAIT!  There's also rear-wheel steering, so you can turn on a farthing:

Though when you really think about it you never need to make such tight turns, with the possible exception of bike polo, but even then due to the tight wheelbase and small wheel size you'd need to get all new mallets:

Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, you've got this:

If only there were some kind of bike that split the difference between a tall bike and a chainless 21st century velocipede...

Ah, forget it, it'll never happen.

And in apparel news, you'll be pleased to learn that Fred slippers have finally broken the $1,000 barrier:

We first saw them on Dan Martin’s feet at the 2016 Tour de France, and now Mavic is bringing the Comete Ultimate shoes to market. They can be yours this fall for the eye-popping sum of $1,000.

You read that right. For a cool grand, you get two-piece construction — an outer carbon shell with a swappable liner within, akin to ski boot design — that Mavic says will create a more connected feel between rider and bike. The system is also supposedly more efficient: 4.2 watts saved per pedal stroke, according to Mavic. Two Boa closures snug up the carbon shell over the soft liner.

Hmmm, an outer shell with a swappable liner, eh?

So in other words it's basically a Fredly take on the SPD sandal:

Except with SPD sandals you've got to buy the liner separately:

Anyway, the idea of $1,000 crabon roadie sandals seems almost as ridiculous as the idea of shoes that require dedicated socks...which has also happened, so never mind:

At this rate the only way you're going to turn any heads at the rollout of your next Fred ride is to show up in a pair of $1,030 Manolo Blahnik pumps that have been retrofitted to accept a road cleat:

All the expense and Euro flair of a road shoe with even less walkability.

You really can't lose.

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