Nimby 50- A Canadian Classic

logoThe Nimby 50 in the mountains surrounding Pemberton BC claims to be a “technical marathon mountain bike race.”  At only 37 km it is rather short but it’s the toughest most epic 37 km I’ve ever raced as the course is dominated by tough single track lacing down steep mountainsides and over rocky outcroppings. The climbs are full of pristine switchbacks while the descents are gnarly and full of edge of your seat moments.  It’s the most savage XC MTB course I’ve scene in North America and is a must do for anyone into real backcountry mountain biking.  To make things more interesting for the race’s 7th year it was 6 degrees and raining throughout the day which added another element to a memorable day.IMG_5035

Friday was a good pre-ride of the course with the Sellwood Cycle Kona crew from Oregon. For the night we headed  into the forests surrounding Mosquito lake for a night of bonfires, country music and camping.  Generally after a night of camping I’ve had some of my best races as the natural setting seems to re-balance the system, a big part of it I figure is being away from all the electrical currents which have taken over the airspace’s in our modern lives.

Race day started out with a 10 minute fireroad climb with a $100 prime at the top before a descent back down to the valley floor before starting the long 100 switchback climb up to the paraglide launch.  Quinn Moberg (Rocky Mountain) was climbing strong, 2015 race winner and former XC National Champion Ricky Federau took chase in his baggy shorts while I settled into a nice groove with my Kona teammate Kris Sneddon chasing behind.

 

At the start of the climb a bunch of riders blew by me as they seemed pretty keen to get up the mountain.  My climbing legs weren’t in action at the start of the day so I settled into a sustainable pace knowing some energy would be needed late in the race as that is where things get interesting with a bunch of short punchy climbs.

The Nimby is a tough ride as after the 50 minute climb up Nimby trail there is a sketchy descent down Overnight Sensation before traversing into the mosquito lake part of the course which includes about 45 minutes of steep climbing and technical trails to the finish.    Kris and I worked well together with him leading the rough descents while I took over on the climbs, limiting our losses to the leading duo who we finally caught glimpses of heading into the Mosquito lake part of the course.  IMG_5039

We upped the tempo and latched onto the leading duo with 10 km to the finish on a small fire road climb.  It was tactical battle as after the fire road followed 5 km of technical single track before 2 km flat gravel road to the finish.  Ricky was decending faster then us, Quinn had been stronger on the climbs but we were out descending him.

Doing some quick math I figured I better put in a good dig and get into the singeltrack first which should eliminate Quinn but I would need at least a 15 second gap to hold off Ricky.  A good power surge gained the position I was looking for and with my new Kona Hei Hei DL race bike I’ve gained some descending skills which helped hold off a charging Ricky with a 5 second gap heading into the 2 km home stretch of fireroad.  It was game over for Ricky at this point as I set it on cruise control to take my first Nimby 50 title 🙂hero

Somedays you can power away in races while other days you need to sit back and treat it like a chess match.  The Nimby was a chess match this year and it was a bonus to sneak out a win as the fitness will only be going up from here.

 

Heading down to my friends Dave and Thea Mcnaught in Coquitlam after the race was a good way to end the day and set up for the BC Road Provincials in Aldergrove in the morning.  Going from one of the rowdiest MTB races in North America to riding around in circles on the roads of the lower mainland was a yawner but it did provide a great training day over the 132 km course.  The legs took a couple hours to come around but felt good towards the end as the 50 rider field sprinted up a 1 minute climb to the finish.  My positioning was out to lunch heading into the finish but the legs had some juice to power up to take around a top 10 spot which put a cap on a solid weekend and will surely put some fitness in the bank for later on in the summer.IMG_5050

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around the World

Last October after the 24 Hour World Solo Championships in California I took a break from racing to fix one chink in the armour
and had my eyes Lazer corrected at King Lasik in Victoria BC.  A lengthy recovery, combined with a broken finger built into 6 weeks off the bike. The body took kindly to this down time to recharge from a busy few years and bounced back stronger then ever. The eyes have been fluctuating but tend to still be on the upward trend approaching 20/20.    Starting with the Tour of Costa Rica during the last 2 weeks of December its been full steam ahead racing 35 days between then and mid April.IMG_1703

 

Following Costa Rica it was onwards to Australia to eat some Kangaroo and get the body fired up for an assault on NZL races.  All primed it was off to New Zealand to meet my teammates for the 7 day Pioneer stage race across the southern Alps. This was a highlight of the year as we road far into the NZL Alps an enjoyed some classic moments as Team Kona.

Next up was reuniting with my friend Tarrren to take on the 24 hour Solo Worlds Champs in Rotorua on the North Island of NZL.  She looked after the pit crew along with Jason, Justin and Dion and we came oh so close to taking down 7 time World Champ Jason English.  There’s only 4 more minutes to improve before the World Champs in Italy next June and that title will be in different hands 🙂

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The weeks to follow in New Zealand were near perfect as we soaked in the last days of the NZL summer and drove around the North Island visiting friends, hitting races and soaking in the natural beauty of the land.

My buddy Ondrej Slezak joined me to tackle to Kiwi Crusade during this time but that was a rather unforgettable gongshow.  We are making plans to re-unite to tackle a real race in the future, maybe somewhere down in South Africa..  Ending the New Zealand journey at the Southern Hemispheres longest running MTB race with the Karipoti Classic was a good sendoff as Tarren hopped a jet back to Australia and I took off to Vietnam to defend a title at the Vietnam Victory Challenge.  The defence was a success with possibly the strongest legs I’ve ever had as they seemed to have been brought a new life after the downtime last fall.

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With a pile of racing in the bank my buddy Simon and I headed off too Northern Vietnam, Laos and Thailand for 3 weeks of bike touring and soaking in the Asian lifestyle up there.  We road a pile of kilometres, ate a lot of fresh fruit and experienced a wild part of the World. Riding around with Apidura bike packing bags sure let us travel fast and hard.  Our time in Asia came to an end and Simon took off back to the land of maple syrup and I jetted off to India to tackle a week long race across the Himalayan foothills in the Uttarakhand province boarding Nepal.  It was a wild 2.5 weeks across India, full of crazy days but ended in a hiccup as I caught a case of Dehli belly.  The body called for a recovery period in a first world country so off to Australia it was.

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The last 3 weeks in Australia served its purpose and has left the body semi-recharched and the mind ready for the 2nd half of the race year.  Martin and Juliana, Peter and Nancy, Ondrej and Hanna, and Todd all opened there homes and treated there Canadian visitor with some great times and some solid food to fix a broken system.

Its unreal to be on the other side of the World yet to feel right at home which is only possible with great friends such as these.  Australia was also full of some good riding which has left the body primed to take on the Canadian portion of the season.  A couple races were mixed into the scene as well which will help with the process of getting back into top form.  Sometimes you need to put your ego on hold and take races as good opportunities for motivating training rides.  These races reminded me a little more R&R is in need which will be taken care of back on home soil:)

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Sitting here at Sea Tac airport in Seattle waiting for the the final flight to Victoria tonight the mind is in a peaceful state, ready for some Canadian time to regroup and set off on the next round of adventures.  This week the body will be on full recharge mode before heading off to Vancouver to pick up some fresh Kona bikes then onwards to Salmon Arm  for some camping and racing at the Salty Dog 6 Hour Enduro 🙂

Huge thanks to everyone who has made this last trip around the World possible as without all the friends and support who have stepped up this journey wouldn’t be half of what it was.  I haven’t forgotten the kindness and good times and will be looking forward to the next visit wherever it may be, hopefully you all make it to Canada one day for a feed of Maple Bacon 🙂

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Uttarakhand Himalayan MTB Race (India)

Sitting in my hotel room in Chiang Mai Thailand recovering from  3 weeks of solid base miles with my buddy Simon bike touring across Northern Vietnam and Laos an unexpected invitation came in.   My friend Yeti from India was helping with a 2nd year race and was looking for some international riders to come and take part too help develop the event.  It was a split second decision but off to India it was for the 7 day, 630 km Uttarakhand MTB Himalayan Challenge!LOGO-900x444

The Uttarakhand Himalayan MTB Challenge, put on by the Indian Department of Tourism in association with the Cycling Federation of India had two goals:  promote tourism and grow Cycling in India.  It was a nice race to support as there are zero entry fees for its 100 competitors which allowed 80 local Indians a chance to race there bikes for a week and another 20 International riders from Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, USA, New Zealand and myself form Canada to experience one wild ride across a beautiful part of the World.

India is an incredible country with over 1.25 Billion people and a history which reaches back 5 millennia. Our first stopover was the countries capitol of New Delhi which inhabits a population the size of Australia inside its boundaries.  It’s one crazy ass place with everything imaginable squeezed in there including some old castles and impressive historic monuments. It can now12963724_10153384664711193_2890858111245580554_n also stake claim to the Worlds worst air pollution, over 3 times worse then Beijing which is pretty screwed its self.  12 hours was enough to digest a lifetime of bad air as we got the heck out of there and headed up to the mountain town of Nanitial, just 280 km away.  In Canada this drive would take 3 hours, in India it takes over 9 hours as the streets are a spectacle themselves with everything and the kitchen sink on there.  At one point my mind was getting overwhelmed by all the action so I closed my eyes, only to reopen them to a giant billboard falling on a shed beside the motorway.  Oh boy, here we go..

The racing itself was stunning as the mountainous landscapes in Uttarakhand made for some wild race courses as the roads constantly wound themselves around mountains, over passes, through river gorges and past bustling mountain towns. Often we’d climb for 35-40 km, followed by epic descents, knowing around each corner could be our destiny with the end time if we didn’t ride wisely. There was never a quiet moment in India and this sort of racing on open Indian road ways required 100% attention.  On day 1 our biggest competition from India, Sachin, was wiped out by a jeep, breaking his bike into three pieces and launching himself down a mountainside.  Miraculously he woke up 3 hours later in a hospital with no recollection of the wreck, and also no serious injuries.  The next day Sachin hopped on a 35 lb, 100$ Wal Mart bike, wrecked himself again on the first descent, hopped up and went on an attack for 2 hours before we finally caught him again.  After this stage we nicknamed our relentless and determined friend “Crash.”13029507_10153392269591193_7454978529930189018_o-2

Every night we were put up in local lodging and dished up local Indian Cusiian. It usually worked out but after winning stage two heading into the mountain top town of Gwaldam we checked into a sketchy hotel on the edge of town.  For lunch we headed out back to what looked like a chicken coup and were served up a number of different Indian Curries.  Taking one look at the operation I told my travel partners Thomas Turner, Justin Price and Adrien Retief that we were rolling the dice with this meal.  Sure enough my dice rolled the wrong way and the next 24 hours was spent either on the toilet or running to a toilet.13055666_10153392325141193_1791765154525057768_o

Unfortunately stage 3 was the Queens stage and had over 150 km of racing.  The first 70 km was flat or downhill which allowed me to dangle off a large lead group, the only thing keeping me in there was seeing the Indians on there Wal Mart bikes and flat pedals which seemed rather inspiring.  Turning into stubborn mode for the 2nd half of the stage I pushed through the stomach grumblings to take the stage win but at the same time also pushed my body into emergency shut down mode.

Another round of spicey curry knocked me out for good and for the next 2.5 weeks my body has been in the hurt locker with heart rates above 130 causing meltdowns.  I could sense this was coming after the last 4 months of great racing and travelling through Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and now India.  I know better then to head to a country like India for a race when the empty tank signal is on the dash board but I have a tough time sitting still when theres adventures to be had.12983927_10153385238481193_4635075081108415717_o

For the rest of the race I tired to avoid the broom wagon and had an interesting time riding with the mid packers. These guys are the spirit of the sport of mountain biking, always with smiles on there faces as they do there best with whatever crappy bikes and food they have to power them through these long days.

Trying to find rest during stage races is tough at the best of times and in India its near impossible as the Indians love there noise with people honking there horns, dogs barking, chickens squacking and churches belting out religious statements 24/7.  Once in a while it would be quite enough to sleep for a bit but any sleep would be awoken at 4:45 am by the Chai tea guys.    WTF, in what World does someone want Chai tea at this time!?  We would unhook our doorbells, put ear plugs in and ask politely for no Chai tea but every morning these guys would show up all smiley faced and wouldn’t back down until they got an answer.  It was hard not to come out swinging at these early hours but we managed to hold back.13002437_10153392266866193_3406381992568881274_o

Sleep deprived, full of early morning Chai tea and still sporting a volcanic stomach I pulled my camera out and switched into tourist mode for the last couple stages.  It sure is surprising how much more you see when you’re not in race mode.  This part of India was especially astounding with waterfalls, thick forests and the entertainment of watching the locals do there daily routines on the side of the roads.  It’s something tough to explain as the street action in India is like no other place I’ve been on earth.

In the end a couple tough Mongolian Roadies would take spots 1 & 3, Thomas Turner from the USA was 2nd, Adrien Retief from NZL in 4th and myself managing to stay in 5th thanks to gaining loads of time on the first few stages.

This trip turned into a rough one but I’ve never had a regret heading out on an adventure  as every day is an entertaining learning experience when you’re some place new.  The Indians sure looked after us good this trip and left us with a positive image of there country.  The drive back to Delhi we saw our lives flash before our eyes a few times but we made it.  The day after I was full steam ahead hopping on a jet plane headed to Australia to settle down for a bit to regain some health in a 1st World country before tackling the rest of the season.uttarakhand-india

Next up is one of Australia’s Iconic Marathons, the 100 km Convict on the outskirts of Sydney.  This one will either go really good from over compensation or really bad if the body resembles anything from this Indian adventure.  After that it’s back to my favourite country of them all to kick off the Canadian portion of the race year 🙂 !

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Vietnam Victory Challenge

FlagbigVietnam is a long and skinny country in Southeast Asia with a dense poluation of 94-95 million inhabitants.  It’s best known for its beaches, the Vietnam War, bustling cities and its culture.  Soccer is the most popular sport but thanks to the Vietnam Victory Challenge, mountain biking is quickly gaining popularity!

The 3 day race is in its 2nd year and grew from 80-175 racers in that time.  Host town is the Vietnam tourist meca of Dalat, surrounded in the pine forests of the Central highlands at 1500 M.  It’s a great area to race out of with its cooler climate, abundance of trails in the surrounding countryside and laid back atmosphere.  The street food is some of the best in the World and is a cheap and filling way to refuel the body every night 🙂12080269_10153302254261193_1803370175766522421_o

The stages were fairly short for my standards at 45-50 km each stage but the courses were challenging and entertaining to ride as you were either pushing your body to its limits going up a steep climb or else hanging on through a fast descent which required proper line picking as the ground was rough and often on small trails.

Passing through small meadows and through creeks kept it interesting on the country style tracks. There was an abundance of cows, wild horses and random people doing there things which made it nice having a lead Moto to clear the way. Even with that a guy had to be alert to stay out of trouble as the countryside was alive with action!10571925_10153302254126193_221257095874495135_o

As far as a pre-season training camp goes it was perfect as we could ride our bikes to and from all the stages and spend the post race recovery time getting cheap massages, resting in our hotels, and eating endless amounts of cheap food.  The options of street food were limitless but we tried to stick to a few staples such as Pho soups and BBQ’d rice paper pizzas to avoid any stomach eruptions.  The vegetarian restaurants were pretty sketchy with there rubber imitation meats. The street meat wasn’t any better as it was often unidentifiable. I’ve never seen green hot dogs in my life until now but I’m sure whatever is in them isn’t good for the gastro system.

With twice the riders as last year I was expecting some tougher competition as I defended my title. Unfortunately for the other guys my body finally came back to life after the 24 HR World Solo Champs and was on fire.  I’m not sure what it is but I’ve had some of the best races of my life 2 weeks after 24 hour races, this time it took 3 weeks for those legs to co1396928_10153301545161193_5958302080625576425_ome around but they were on autopilot once they did!

The local southeast Asian riders are defiantly improving quickly as they closed the gap from last year. Lots of them are very strong coming from road racing backgrounds but mountain biking is still pretty new over here so they are working on there technical skills.

Having a race like the Vietnam Victory Challenge for the riders to train for is one of the best things that could happen for a country to develop its riders.  It gives them a goal to strive for and also a chance to test there skills against other riders from around the World.  A few people during the race were asking why I didn’t  take it easy and ride with the other racers for a while, but for me I wanted to set the bar high for these guys to show them what is possible.  I’m sure in a few years they will be setting the bar themselves if they keep improving like they are so I better enjoy the time at the top over here while it lasts!

It will be interesting to see where this race heads in the future as it has potential to be a classic if the organizers are able to get through all the Vietnamese governement problems and continue to grow it. Right not they have it dialled and it seems like the race is getting a good name across the board.12828487_10153289109771193_1560716127465392823_o

The day after the race finished my buddy Simon Trembley and I hopped a flight to Northern Vietnam to start a bike tour from the mountain town of Sapa near the Chinese boarder. Our plan is to ride across northern Laos and eventually end up in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. It was a solid 24 hour journey just to get up to Sapa.

The highlight was a 8 hour pit stop in Vietnams capitol of Hanoi where we toured around with local expert David Lloyd.  He knew the city like the back of his hand and lead us to some solid street food and toured us around old town Hanoi.  After an overnight train ride north we finally made it to the fresh air of Sapa.  The mind and bodies are now enjoying the cool mountain climate as we finish off our recovery from the VVC and prepare for the next adventure!

 

Full Results can be found at : http://www.webscorer.com/seriesresult?seriesid=64160image

 

 

Karapoti Classic- Kiwi Crusade- Goodbye NZL!

100_pure_new_zealand-wordsThe last 6 weeks in New Zealand have flown by travelling around touring and racing some great events like The Pioneer, WEMBO 24 HR Solo World Champs and Karapoti Classic .  Throughout the trip  I’ve been spoiled with kindness and support from new and old Kiwi friends alike and it created a trip for the ages.   I look forward to having visitors in Canada so I can return some Canadian hospitality in the future 🙂

As sweet as the journey has been, there were hiccups along they way, one of them being a stage race called the Kiwi Crusade.  It was tight to the 24 hr Solo Champs, just 6 days after, but the race was advertising a 1 million dollar race budget, 400+ riders, and a $100 000 prize purse which would make it well worthwhile draining whatever energy I had left into it. It was going to be fun comparing it with the The Pioneer, as The Pioneer was one of the best all round races I’ve ever done, and on paper the Kiwi Crusade was promising to be as good or better!

Unfortunately the Kiwi Crusade turned into nothing more then a poorly organized group ride as the event talked the talk but didn’t back it up. Showing up expecting 400 riders, Coromandel-Peninsula-New-Zealandwe found a field of 24, the prize money was pulled 4 days before the event although they kept advertising it until I asked them to pull it down in respect to everyone. The million dollar race budget was non existent as we ate white buns and processed meat at the finish line and tried not to crash as there was no medical support anywhere in sight.

I’ve raced a few crazy races in my life but this one took it to a whole new level.  It started with an 8 km prologue in which everyone seemed to take a different route through the half marked course which included random zig zags around a farmers field and circles around picnic tables.   My buddy Justin crashed hard on his head and there was no medical help so he drove himself to the hospital. Other red flags were popping up and my spidey senses told me it was time to get out of there but gong_with_dragon_and_eight_auspicious_symbols_ec04my teammate Ondrej Slezak  wanted to ride another day so we did.

Stage 2 started with a questionable 14 km neutral pre-ride through the city of Tauranga in which we were often led down the wrong side of the road and around blind corners into traffic.  A few of us started following the rules of the road and tried to act like polite citizens so not everyone would hate the next cycling group they saw.

At the official start line we were given directions on how to ride the 80 km course as they didn’t bother putting up any course markings or providing GPS tracks.  “Go left after this bush, right after the puddle, another left by the hill etc..”  We were then instructed not to ride too fast so the marshals would have time to drive around and get into place.  The race started, we all got lost, a lead moto caught up to us and was lost himself and tried to lead us which caused us to get even further lost.  We eventually made it to the finish line thanks to the guidance of Ashley and Adrian as they were a local team who knew the area.  On a positive the first 10 km of the course heading over a small pass through a rainforest was some of the best riding I have done anywhere in NZL!Road-Sign-Lost

That night we were told the race was going to be televised on Fox tv and ESPN and that we would all be world famous. My ears couldn’t take anymore of the nonsense and it was time to move on.  If we had put our race aspirations on hold and took the week as a cruisey, picture taking tourist ride i’m sure we could’ve had a great time as there was a nice crew of racers to hang out with and some beautiful scenery to see in the Coromandel Peninsula.

The biggest problem was based on principles as I grew up in a place where you treat people with respect and honesty.     It’s a shame things like this happen as some of the racers took their annual vacation time, paid big bucks, and flew half way around the World expecting one thing but got delivered something totally different.   In fairness to the organizer, apparently $100 000 of his million dollar race budget was pulled from a sponsor 3 weeks before the race but it still didn’t explain what was happening.   It’s never fun jumping ship but the further we drove from that spectacle the better it felt!

The days following the race were an adjustment as we headed back to Rotorua to digest what had happened and looked for a way to salvage our time in NZL as it was ticking away.  It was time to carry on and get this trip properly back on line.  Some of my Kiwi friends had been trying to get me to race the Karapoti sponsored by The Bike Barn down in Wellington.  I was pretty keen to check out the Southern Hemispheres longest running mountain bike race and its great 31 year history.   My friend Kim Hurst contacted the organizer Michael and he was great sorting out a last minute entry. Harley and his crew at the Bike Barn in Rotorua did some last minute bike work to get the Hei Hei ready for the Karapoti and soon  Tarren and I were bound for the southern tip of the North island!Bike_Barn_Logo

Friday I pre-rode the 50 km old school course which contained numerous steep punchy climbs and rocky descents.
The course was set inside a thick nature reserve with ferns and other crazy New Zealand foliage, ridge top views down to the ocean below and some cool river gorges.    Following the sweet pre-ride, Tarren and I had some chill time relaxing by the river where the race was to start and then a nice evening checking out downtown Wellington.  What a cool city that is!  Saturday morning Tarren flew back to Australia to get ready to return to NZL the day after on a cruise with her family while I headed up to race site in Upper Hutt with 800 other riders to tackle the day.

12299399_797233330422328_679231083025091914_n copyThe race started in a river crossing, which I blew as I took the far right line to avoid what I thought would be a mad bottleneck and ended up in 40th-50th position.  Chasing hard up a tight river gorge I never quite caught the  lead group of 6 riders.  On the first climb I quickly moved into 3rd, but the lead duo, a couple young guns were working together and the gap was 2 minutes heading into the legendary rock gardens.  Riding irresponsibly down the rocky drop offs I came within 20 seconds of 2nd place at the bottom but that was as close as my 24 hour engine could get me as the young whipper snappers would post the 2nd and 7th fastest times ever on the course, with my time of 2:19:45 placing me in the top 10.  Spending the day at this classic race was uplifting after the Kiwi Crusade and was a great way to end what has been one heck of a trip to NZL.

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With only two days until flying out to Vietnam I took off after the race and drove back North on some sketchy winding roads through the hills.  It was beautiful but the roads resembled golf cart paths and were barely wide enough for one vehicle let alone 2 when you had to pass someone!  It took a while but I eventually made it to my buddy Dions house in Lake Taupo for the night. The next morning there was time to check out the sweet trails at Crater of the Moon before continuing onto my friends Clinton and Annes house in Auckland.  I hadn’t realized how much gear I had collected during my travels until it was spread out in their backyard and resembled a small bike shop.

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A garage sale was necessary before my flight to get rid of extra weight, a small cache was made in Clintons garage until next trip and still there was 74 kg left to try and squeeze into two 23 kg pieces of luggage and carry-on.  Somehow it all fit without paying any excess charges 🙂  Sitting here in Dalat up in the ranges of Vietnam at 1500 M there’s now just 24 hours to go before putting forth one last race effort to defend my title at the 3 day Vietnam Victory Challenge.  A much needed rest period and  system reboot will take place after this to prepare for the North American part of the season ahead.

Over and Out!IMG_2774