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Tri-Bike or Power Cranks?
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I was planning to buy a new tri-bike ($1000-$1400) but just learned about Power Cranks after X-mas. My budget means I probably have to choose, which would you suggest?

Background:

I'm training for IM-USA, my first long distance Triathlon. My current bike is a four year old Cannondale road bike with a triple chain ring and stock 105 components. I bought it for cruising with the local bike club. I went to a good shop, and it fits very well for riding 90% on the hoods. If I ride it at Lake Placid, I will probably average about 15mph. So I may flirt with the bike cut-off, but should be ok. I rode the main part of the Lake Placid bike loop during two visits this fall, and with the triple I can "spin" essentially the whole course.

I planned to buy a new tri-bike for IM-USA. My road bike would remain for group rides, and as my emergency bike for IM-USA if something went wrong with the tri-bike. As a kid I wrecked my 10 speed a few days before my first "real" bike trip, and had to ride my dad's heavy old 3 speed instead. Never again I hope!

However, I am also a big believer in technique. Not knowing of Power Cranks then, I blew much of my year's training budget on a CompuTrainer this summer. What sold me was SpinScan, and the ability to practice on the Lake Placid course in my basement this winter. I definitely have plenty of room for improvement, with SpinScan numbers in the 40's when cruising, bumping up to the low 60's when accelerating.

So should I invest in educating my legs with Power Cranks, or ease my paranoia and buy some speed with a new tri-bike?

-Bill
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This is a no brainer ... [ In reply to ]
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I (PowerCranks) will give you your money back in 60 days if you don't think PC's are worth the price then you can go get that new bike in plenty of time for the season.

A spinscan number in the 40's is the lowest i have ever heard of. Boy, do you need PC's and I predict your potential is more than we claim.

PC's should be able to get you to a speed at LP of 18 mph on that old bicycle, if you start now and use them exclusively.

Frank Day
PowerCranks

--------------
Frank,
An original Ironman and the Inventor of PowerCranks
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Re: This is a no brainer ... [Frank Day] [ In reply to ]
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O.K Frank, I have a few questions...

1) What are the gains that are seen from cyclist that do one legged drills consistently? (twice a week)

2) If they were under $500 you guys would sell a ton....can't you find a work hungry tooling shop in russia to make these for you guys.

3) I primarily race crits and to hear talk about them being and advantage in a race makes me think less of whoever speaks that language.

4) I have one leg predominately stronger that the other and I'm sure this may aid in equaling things out.

Not sold yet
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Re: This is a no brainer ... [Buzzy] [ In reply to ]
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Buzzy,

I expect pretty much the same gains in those who do one legged drills and those who do not. No one does one-legged drills enough to really make a difference. I am sure plenty of users who had previously done one-legged drills will pipe in here so you don't have to take my word for it.

Most of my cyclists (in fact, most of my users of all pursuasions) do not race on the PC's yet they have seen substantial benefits in races. Next season you should see people (including some cyclists, including the winner on one major US race last year) start racing on them although I am not so sure we will see them in crits. someday you will be convinced or you will not. The price is the price and, I believe, if they actually do what we claim (which they do), they are cheap at any price.

--------------
Frank,
An original Ironman and the Inventor of PowerCranks
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Speaking as a guy who isn't trying to sell you a pair of PC's... [ In reply to ]
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You would be foolish to not take Frank up on his offer. The 60 day guarantee is for real, and there is no way you could possibly end up any slower, barring an accident (which could just as easily happen on normal cranks). At your speed, the main advantage of buying a "full-on" tri bike is the gee-whiz new toy appeal, which may cause you to ride more and train harder - a definite benefit, but nothing like what you can expect to see from PC's.

Get the PC's, train on them exactly as Frank directs you to (exclusively), and reap in the huge rewards as testified by many others on this site. I think there is an almost exponential level of improvement possible for someone with your cycling ability. Next year, when you're holding 18-21mph, then you can talk about a "real" tri bike. Along with faster wheels, and all the rest of that jazz.

Build the engine first!


<If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough>
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Re: Speaking as a guy who isn't trying to sell you a pair of PC's... [Khai] [ In reply to ]
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I sell bikes for a living and I have to say before you can make a good bike go fast you need to know how to pedal. Powercranks are the most effective training tool I have seen for this. Would I rather sell a $1500 tri bike or a set of Power Cranks? Well, obviously from a business perspective I would rather sell the bike. However, I believe the Power Cranks will offer you more benefit in the short term and also in the long term. One way or another, I recommend both a new bike and Power Cranks, but the Power Cranks will benefit you more up front, and continue to benefit you once you get a new bike. When you have both you will see some substantial improvement. Good Luck, Happy New Year!

Tom Demerly
The Tri Shop.com
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Re: This is a no brainer ... [Frank Day] [ In reply to ]
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The Spinscan number is supposed to be the percentage of your average

torque over maximum torque. As your average torque would be reduced

by the reduction and loss of power near and during the dead spot area,

how do POWERCRANKS increase the spinscan number. Personally, I do

not think a high spinscan number will make you a better pedaller as if

its description is true, simply decreasing the maximum torque should

increase its value.
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Re: Tri-Bike or Power Cranks? [bamsphd] [ In reply to ]
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At lower speeds, aerodynamics play little role in determining how fast your average speed will be. You need to increase your power substantially before you could "buy speed" with a more aerodynamic bike/body position.

You can do this a myriad of ways...lift weights, run hills, ride hills, do intervals, or do the old Three-Part Italian recipe consisting of, "Ride Bikes, Ride Bikes, Ride Bikes!" Any of these techniques, or combination of them, will improve your power.

But, what if you could also learn a more efficient pedalling technique while you developed the strength needed to generate the power? What if there were a device that would NOT ALLOW you to pedal in the "normal", less efficient way? What if this device DEMANDED that you lift your recovering leg with your hip flexors to keep all of the power that is generated from your downstroke leg to go directly to the drivetrain, so none of it is wasted lifting your recovering leg? Wouldn't you want to try this device out?

It exists, and You can try it, for 60 days. "IT" is called PC's. See how "IT" works for you. If you don't agree with the results, send "IT" back, then you can try to "buy speed" instead. I think you'll be dissappointed if you try and buy speed instead of buying a tool to help increase your efficiency while you develop your strength.

As you get stronger, you might end up with a different body position than you could comfortably have now. So, if you bought a bike now, you might not fit as well on it as you change over the next year...since it is really only your first season...lots of things change that first year!



Quid quid latine dictum sit altum videtur
(That which is said in Latin sounds profound)
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Re: Speaking as a guy who isn't trying to sell you a pair of PC's... [Khai] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
>You would be foolish to not take Frank up on his offer. The 60 day guarantee is for real, and there is no way you could possibly end up any slower, barring an accident (which could just as easily happen on normal cranks).
I can't believe this thread. It sounds like Frank's Cranks Anonymous. Khai, you just told someone to go out and spend US$1500 on cranks. You seem convinced they will help him, but you don't say if you've used them and benefited from them yourself. You offer no empirical or even anecdotal evidence that PC's work, and your post sounds like the opposite of its title.

Have you used them? And are they worth all those greenbacks? That's a lot of clams! Actually, I have no doubt that they do work, but for someone averaging 15 mph on a 4 year-old road bike, who already has a CompuTrainer, wouldn't a decent tri bike with a great fit get him in the saddle enough and make the most of his power to be more cost-effective for his needs? He can work on his SpinScan numbers, do focused trainer sessions and improve tremendously between now and IM Lake Placid. Does he really need another training tool when he's already got a CompuTrainer? I'd say no.

For the same US$1,500 I'd get a great tri frame like the Cervelo One plus a professional fitting for a maximum of a couple hundred more. And I'd buy a copy of the Triathlete's Training Bible and maybe sign up with a service like multisports.com or trainingbible.com instead. I agree with the other poster who said Frank would sell a whole lot of the PC's if the price came down to under $500. For that kind of investment, which is still sizable, I'd try them. But for more than the cost of the bike I'm currently rocking on, no freaking way!
Last edited by: tri_taiwan: Dec 29, 02 4:58
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Re: Speaking as a guy who isn't trying to sell you a pair of PC's... [tri_taiwan] [ In reply to ]
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tri taiwan raises a few interesting points - our friend does have several options available, and when you have 1500 bones to throw around SOMETHING good is likely to happen. still, looking at the poster's situation - he has a decent 105 level bike and a CT. this could be all the man needs, to be sure. yet, he is looking for more. i like to buy bikes as much as the next guy, but i can't see where another $1500 bike is gonna speed this fellow up any. he could get it because he wants to, but he will be the same speed on it as his c-dale. tritaiwan noted that a 1500 frome was an option, and this is intriguing - he could get darn near anything he wants for 1500 in a frame !!! a p2K frame/fork costs 1200 bucks, for example. dude could build that up, and then start to cheaply rebuild the c-dale into an adequate training bike. but would a p2K make him any faster at 15 mph? not likely. and , who is to say the man needs or will be ANY better on a tri-geometry bike to begin with? he doesn't know, at this time. with his stated problems pedalling would powercranks make him faster ? in my mind there is no doubt they would - actually that is not so - he will make HIMSELF faster by busting his a$$ in the manner which powercranks will force him to do. if his c-dale fits it will take him wherever he wishes to go just fine. if i were in the original posters position i would get the PC's and start busting my a$$ on them on the CT and the road. i would use the remaining 700 bucks to start saving for whatever new bike/frame/wheels/etc i desired AFTER i built up the engine a bit, and i actually knew what i wanted.
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Re: Tri-Bike or Power Cranks? [bamsphd] [ In reply to ]
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I don't know the first thing about power cranks and at that price I'm sure in no hurry to find out. As mentioned, at $500 he'd tweek a lot more interest. At the current price there are a lot of other things that I wish to spend my money on.

I'll go against the stream here and say go for a decent bike. For my first tri my bike was a mid 80's Miele 12 sp., with downtube shifters and clipped pedals. The next year I rode ths same bike on the same course but with aero bars, clipless pedals, front aero wheel and a proper fit setup and took eleven minutes off my previous time over 40 kms. I haven't rode this course since but I'm sure a P2K would take off at least another three or four minutes just by itself, with all other things equal. Bottom line is that the bike does make a difference. Sure some of this time improvement was training but the bike does also cut your times down. I'm sure also that you could improve the engine without power cranks. How many Euro pros are using them?

Would power cranks take off this much time? I dunno, but Frank isn't offering any controlled studies to prove they can. Testimonials are fine, but have to be taken with a grain of salt. However,the thing I do like is the sixty day gaurantee, which seems to indicate Frank is confident in the product.

My $.02. Go for a new or used tri bike within your budget and save the power cranks for another day.
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Re: Tri-Bike or Power Cranks? [cerveloguy] [ In reply to ]
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i appreciate cerveloguy's comments. not wishing to dispute him, but offering counterpoint based on the original question:

dude already has a "decent bike". a 105 c-dale is not a bad ride. since cerveloguy mentions it, the europro saeco team does ok on road configuration c-dales with shorty bar in tt's all the time. further, our friend says he will get a 1000-1400 tri bike. this is not exactly going to get the man a p3. as i noted, a p2k frame with the parts cannibalized off the c-dale might be an option to actually upgrade, but a 1200 tri bike is not going to be such from what the man already has. i will concur that simply spending nothing and cranking it up a notch on his current eqipment and CT is not a bad idea, either.
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Re: Tri-Bike or Power Cranks? [t-t-n] [ In reply to ]
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I don't use PC's and haven't even tried them (although I'd like to). I do like the concept behind them and even though I rarely believe in ancedotal evidence, I think it is pretty overwelming in this case. On top of that the 60 day money back makes the decision a "no brainer" as Frank puts it. At this point, the guy has a fair bike and I don't think getting another bike for $1000 - $1500 will really change anything. He'd be getting another bike only slightly better than his current bike that he is already comfortably set up on. The combination of a set of Power Cranks and coaching would be (IMHO) the best way to spend the money and net the biggest time improvements for Lake Placid. While we are at it, I agree with Francios, a lot of coach's are overpriced. These people that are charging $300+ per month, I think you are paying a premium for their name, not their services. Then these guys that charge you more if you actually want to talk to them, that's another rant. My vote is PC's and coaching ($700 + $525 = $1225)

Mike Plumb, TriPower MultiSports
Professional Running, Cycling and Multisport Coaching, F.I.S.T. Certified
http://www.tripower.org
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Re: Tri-Bike or Power Cranks? [Mike Plumb] [ In reply to ]
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I agree Mike, PC's and coaching are the best bet for a traithlete, the benefit PC's have on running is supposedly great. For cycling speed increases I would first look to increase MPH through strength training. Use power building workouts.

When on the bike, pedal in circles to train the hip flexors to bring the upstroke pedal back around while minimizing negative power. A smooth pedal stroke is important to efficiency. In running the hip flexors are much more important than in cycling, in cycling the hip flexors do not act so much as propulsion but act to bring back the pedals and minimize the negative power in the recovery stroke, power ...
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Re: Tri-Bike or Power Cranks? [bamsphd] [ In reply to ]
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My $0.02:

You've got a lot of cash to spend and are trying to decide between two quick fixes to give you more speed. IMHO, you can't buy quick fixes, because they don't exist.

You've had your CT for 6 months now. What are your spinscan numbers like compared to their levels before you bought your CT? I would have thought that given your existing bike, and the fact that you have a CT, you don't need either of a new tri-bike or PCs. To get more speed on the bike, if I were you, I buy the Triathlete's Training Bible (Friel), sit down and work out a regimented and structured training plan, and stick to it. Doing the LP course over and over again is unlikely, on its own, to provide any appreciable additional speed. You need to push yourself - hence a training programme.
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Re: Speaking as a guy who isn't trying to sell you a pair of PC's... [tri_taiwan] [ In reply to ]
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Okay, so you do have a point in that there isn't anything right now keeping the original poster from going faster, given his current equipment (a 4yr old 105-equipped C'dale, and a Compu-Trainer). If he wanted to improve without spending a dime, all he'd need to do is ride the thing. There are lots of free tips and programs on the CT website, as well as Friel's, Gordo's, Rich Strauss', etc. His current ride will easily get him through an IM, and assuming he had the engine and can run, certainly wouldn't stop him from qualifying.

BUT - he has some cash to spend, and simply asked about whether a pair of PowerCranks would give him better improvement than a new bike would, given his budget of around $12-1500. The answer, is yes - they will. I didn't provide any "evidence" because there have already been several mile-long threads debating what sort of "proof" is believable, and also because if after 59 days you still think they suck, Frank will give you your money back. There have also been many long threads praising the PC's, and even a "convert story" care of ttn. But with Frank's money back guarantee, I fail to see how the purchase of PC's could be a bad decision.

Another thing unique to PC's, is that they help your RUN. Find me a set of wheels or a new frame that will do that. So even if after riding PC's one were to see NO improvement speed-wise on the bike (though this is incredibly unlikely), the avg 1min/mile pace increase Frank claims is worth damn near 1/2 an hour over an IM.

I feel that a pair of PC's (for ~$800, not $1500) is a far better investment than a new bike would be at this point. A coach would also be an excellent investment, and he could have both for less than $1500 if he wanted. You are entitled to your opinion however, and are under no obligation to purchase a pair of Frank's training tool.


<If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough>
Get Fitter!
Proud member of the Smartasscrew, MONSTER CLUB
Get your FIX today?
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Re: Speaking as a guy who isn't trying to sell you a pair of PC's... [Khai] [ In reply to ]
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I think he should do 2 things first:

1. Get a coach like Mike Plumb

2. Ride your bike hard. Enter some time trial races. Build your leg strength. Efficiency is great but you need to be able to push a big gear for the distance ... this is how CAT 4 time trialists get up to 26+ MPH.

Then ...

3. Get a set of PC's to get faster on the run.
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Re: Speaking as a guy who isn't trying to sell you a pair of PC's... [Gary in SD] [ In reply to ]
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Excellent plan. You can't go fast with weak legs, and I've heard nothing but good things about Mike as a coach. But why not get the PC's and build hip flexor strength/efficiency/a mean run at the same time as leg strength? Just makes sense to me...


<If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough>
Get Fitter!
Proud member of the Smartasscrew, MONSTER CLUB
Get your FIX today?
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Re: Speaking as a guy who isn't trying to sell you a pair of PC's... [Khai] [ In reply to ]
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Because with PowerCranks I could not work my downstroke properly and as powerfully, there needs to be recovery on the opposing crank, meaning too much emphasis was placed on the upstroke and not enough on developing the propulsion power of the downstroke (where the real speed is). It probably works better for runners/triathletes than for pure time trialists/cyclists who do not need to use their hip flexors as much ... just use them enough to bring the pedals back up over the upstroke and reduct negative power.
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Re: Speaking as a guy who isn't trying to sell you a pair of PC's... [Gary in SD] [ In reply to ]
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I'm chime-in back in. I think the main question you have to ask yourself is...Are you really going to use them all the time? Like Gary said, bad choice for him because he rides alot of bikes. I'm picking up that you really have to dedicate yourself with these things for it to pay off. My thoughts have changed over the years about things that are light and things that make you fast. If anyone has a set of PC's that are collecting dust....I would gladly trade a Zipp 950 perfect disk(makes the Renn feel like an anchor) w/ a brand new conti for them. I'm just still having issues with peelin off 8 benji's for PC's, even with the guarantee. Frank, you need a disk don't you? Work with me!!!!
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Warning - Feathers May Get ruffled [ In reply to ]
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Suggestion:

Why don't we save the money on all the accessories and training aids( PC's, Computrainers etc . .) take a few years and really dial in the technique and fitness needed in all three sports to take on an Ironman. Not sure if this is case here, but what I am seeing more and more is people coming into the sport and then within 2 - 3 years jumping right up to the IM distance and looking for some silver bullet training accessory that will help them get to the finishline.

I am sure that some of these Training Tools are useful, but so is good guidence, advice and consistant proper training over the course of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 years and beyond.

Best advice - Get a good coach/mentor who has a long term vison not for this year but 5 years down the road.


Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog
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Re: Warning - Feathers May Get ruffled [Fleck] [ In reply to ]
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It's fun spending money that's why. The finish line isn't 5 years down the road. It's right now, everyday. I personally think IM's are the most over rated thing I've ever done. It's partly why I switched to bike racing, I can do more of them in a year. When you get past 40 you look at things to help you stay with the pack, cause when the pack leaves you, your done. I see your point, just not with me! Happy racing!
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Re: Tri-Bike or Power Cranks? [ In reply to ]
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Quote:
Why don't we save the money on all the accessories and training aids( PC's, Computrainers etc . .) take a few years and really dial in the technique and fitness needed in all three sports to take on an Ironman. Not sure if this is case here, but what I am seeing more and more is people coming into the sport and then within 2 - 3 years jumping right up to the IM distance and looking for some silver bullet training accessory that will help them get to the finishline.


I feel richer in money than I do in time. I'm definitely jumping into the IM distance early. However my goal is just a sub-17 hour performance, and if I can avoid injury between now and July I'm pretty confident I can achieve that with what I have now. Things like PCs and new Tri-Bikes are just the toys that go along with engaging in a sport which will also consume most of my accumulated vacation time at work.




and the winner is (probably)...

I think I will defer my next bike purchase, and try the Power Cranks first.

Pluses:
  1. Education lasts a lifetime, a new Tri-bike at most a few seasons.
  2. If it doesn't work for me, I can get my money back from Frank and buy the bike.
  3. I especially liked the suggestion to buy a good frame, and cannibalize my Cannondale. However, I do want to keep a road geometry bike for my club rides which I greatly enjoy. I also don't already own all the tools/expertise I would need to do all that work myself. However, the suggestion did help put things in perspective.
  4. A road bike gives me more position change options during IM-USA.
  5. My run needs all the help it can get.


Minuses:
  1. I'm still afraid of my only ride breaking days before IM-USA. I would sleep a little better with a spare bike available.
  2. I won't be as aero at IM-USA as I would have been on a Tri-bike.
  3. If I'm going to ride PCs all the time, then I'll need another set of PCs when/if I do buy my next bike!
  4. I don't think Frank offers PC's for my tandem, which fortunately my SO does not want to ride much between now an IM-USA anyway (she wants to practice her bike handling skills).
  5. Now I have to educate my SO on why she might want to get PCs instead of the new Tri-Bike I promised to buy her for X-mas.
  6. If she goes with the new Tri-bike instead, I predict trouble when/if I pass her with my new more efficient PC legs!
  7. If I don't pass her, I'll be the jealous one!


thanks for all the suggestions,

-Bill
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