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Episode 98:Take on The Bike Trails of Northwest Arkansas with Arkansas Latinas en Bici

Spread the Ozark love

Enfréntate a los senderos para bicicletas del noroeste de Arkansas

IANWA - Take on The Bike Trails of Northwest Arkansas with Arkansas Latinas en Bici (edited)

TZL Open [0:11] It's time for another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas, the podcast covering the intersection of business, culture, entrepreneurship, and life in general here in the Ozarks. Whether you are considering a move to this area or trying to learn more about the place you call home, we've got something special for you. Here's our host, Randy Wilburn.

Randy Wilburn [0:42] Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. I'm your host, Randy Wilburn, and I'm excited today because I'm sitting here in a corner sequestered. We’re socially distant. But I'm sitting down with some beautiful people from Arkansas Latinas en Bici, Olivia, and Sophia, the founders of this group. And if you've ever ridden on the Greenway or been at a bike event locally here and seen a bunch of women wearing pink cycling jerseys, you've probably run into somebody that's part of this group. I won't call them a crew. They are not a gang, but they are a group of bike riders, and they have made a way for themselves within the larger bike community here in Northwest Arkansas. And so, without further ado, I want to welcome Olivia and Sophia to the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast. Thank you, guys, so much for coming on.

Unknown Speaker [1:37] Thank you. Appreciate the invitation.

Randy Wilburn [1:40] This was so exciting when I heard about this as I've gotten more involved in the biking community here in Northwest Arkansas. A big shout out to Bike NWA, a big shout out to BIPOC, to Beatrice and Kim, and all of the different groups here. There are so many groups. There are so many mountain bike groups. Sam Walton’s grandkids love mountain biking, which is one of the reasons why there's been such a focus and an investment in biking. It’s crazy. So, you learn about these things, and you're like, I had no idea. But, people wonder, because I even have friends on the East Coast that are like, I'm coming to Northwest Arkansas to ride. A lot of times it's mountain bikers, but I'm more of a traditional cyclist. I like to get on the road and just ride, or in this case on the Greenway, and just ride, but you guys have figured out a way to come together collectively. I would love for you to share your story about how you guys got started. Just a little bit about your time here in Northwest Arkansas and how you started Arkansas Latinas en Bici.

Olivia [2:42] My name is Olivia, the founder of Arkansas Latinas en Bici. I moved to Bentonville in 1988.

Randy Wilburn [2:51] Yes, you told me that. So, just to frame this for everybody listening. I want you to picture this. We are at the 8th Street Market, and we are physically in Juice Palm. A big shout out to Omar Kasim. Omar is a very dear friend of mine. He actually gave me permission to record this episode here today. So a big shout out to them. We are enjoying some of their smoothies. I did not know this, we are right across from the Momentary, but Olivia and Sophia told me that where we are right now was a chicken plant. Is that right?

Sophia [3:19] It was Tyson.

Randy Wilburn [3:21] It was Tyson? So, what did Tyson move the chicken plant, or what happened?

Sophia [3:24] They closed it. And we worked here, but they closed it a few years later. They moved it, I believe.

Olivia [3:29] In fact, this was my first job.

Randy Wilburn [3:34] Okay. From when you came here?

Olivia [3:40] Yes, from when I came here.

Randy Wilburn [3:42] That’s amazing. So, this is full circle for you.

Olivia/Sophia [3:40] It is.

Randy Wilburn [3:42] That's awesome. What about you, Sophia? When did you get here?

Sophia [3:47] I got here in 1989.

Randy Wilburn [3:48] Okay, so same time. Are you guys, sisters?

Sophia [3:51] Cousins.

Sophia [3:54] First cousins. She called me; you need to come over here.

Randy Wilburn [3:57] That's funny. My first cousin convinced me to move to Boston when I was 26 years old after returning from living on the west coast. So, first cousins will do that too. They will force you to do something like sisters.

Olivia [4:11] And later on, I moved my whole family here. Some of my cousins also came with other cousins. There is a big family over here.

Randy Wilburn [4:21] A big group here. That’s awesome. I would love for you to share when did your love for biking start?

Olivia [4:29] My first experience with the bike was in Durango, Mexico. Back then, my first bike was those traditional bikes, banana seats.

Randy Wilburn [4:43] Yes, I remember those.

Olivia [4:46] So that was my first bike. And, of course, in Mexico back then, it was used for formal transportation. It was not used for cycling or events; people used it for daily life.

Randy Wilburn [5:04] You needed it to live. Now we ride bikes just for health’s sake, but many people actually rely on their bikes daily.

Sophia [5:13] And then in 2016, I started riding the bike. I joined a group, Cross Bike Bentonville; that was my first experience back here in 2016. Because of riding around Northwest Arkansas, I saw the need to bring this bike culture to my community. There were hardly any people of color, especially women riding a bike, and after three years of being involved with the bike community and going to events here in Little Rock, I saw that there's a need. So that's what it took me to create Arkansas Latinas en Bici. We need this in our community, and we also need representation in the Bike Community. Now, a year later, this is where we are. I dragged my cousin to join this Group as I needed her support, and here she is. This Group was founded by two Latinas, women with zero funding, and right now, we have more than 50 ladies who have joined the group. We have a lot of work to do. There's still a lot of need for a group like Bike Park and Latinas en Bici in this area; there's not enough representation. There are not enough women of color who are riding a bike, and our mission is to promote cycling within the Hispanic community.

Randy Wilburn [6:53] So, promoting it, not just from just the day to day getting back and forth going somewhere, but also from health aspects of biking. Biking has so many benefits. The benefits of biking are off the charts. I have even made it a point lately, and I was telling you guys off the air that I'm trying to use my bike to run errands purposefully. I'm trying to think about ways to jump on the Greenway and go to certain places, and I actually can do it. I can ride my bike down to Dixon Street, from my home. I can jump on the Greenway, the trailhead ends right by my house, and I can literally get through most of Fayetteville. And a lot of people that aren't from here don't realize how interconnected these cities are. I believe it's important for people to understand that. Have most of your members come from this area here, or are you attracting a larger group of people that have joined you?

Sophia [7:49] Actually, in this area. She's getting lots of messages from all over the United States? They are starting to like Instagram, look at the Facebook pages, and she starts to get messages like, how did you start it? How can we start? We want the same thing. They want to start, so that's awesome. Let's go back to the education part. We want to educate women to ride their bikes, know how they're connected, go to the grocery store, or run an errand real quick using their bike using the trail system. So that's part of our mission to teach and how to interact with the Greenway where you can go from one city to another and be safe.

Randy Wilburn [8:35] I love that, and as you're saying, I think that there are opportunities to create that awareness in mapping and let people know, if you live here, you can get to these five or ten places within a 15-minute bike ride. You take the average of what an average person rides a bike a certain distance, right? It might be nine or 10 miles per hour, but whatever it is, I know some of us like to ride 15 or 20 miles an hour. There's a wide variety, but when you take an average, you can tell somebody you can go to these different stores in 10, 15, 20 minutes, and then all of a sudden, you have people pulling their cars off the road, and instead, getting on a bike and going somewhere. So, you get the health benefits, and you get to run your errands.

Olivia [9:27] And that's why you will see us everywhere.

Randy Wilburn [9:31] And you're right about that. I've been on the trail, and I see you guys there on the trail down in Springdale and Fayetteville, and I've seen folks all over, and I was observing. It looked like you guys took a trip because I was looking on your Instagram, and it looked like you guys were on a graveled ride somewhere, and I don't know where it was, but it didn't look like it was right here in this area. But have you guys taken a trip at all?

Olivia [9:53] It was in Pea Ridge. And that's the reason why we wanted to create the ladies in a group. Sometimes we meet in Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, in different areas to learn how to navigate the Greenway because, in the beginning, some of the ladies got lost. I don't know how to get here. I don't know how to get from point A to point B. So, that's the whole purpose of why we change location. We are not just one city; we are in Northwest Arkansas. You can ride your bike from Bella Vista to Fayetteville, but if you don't know the Greenway, it can be intimidating. And the purpose behind the ride is not just to enjoy it, which is one of the points, but also to empower those women who want to go from their house to the next city. We also wanted to teach them how to navigate to create a way to go from the Greenway to the store. That's in our mission, as we always try to find a way to educate either in a healthy way. How to get to the store and go to work because some ladies don't have a driver’s license or don't own a car, that is the educational part behind this. It’s just to get it in writing.

Randy Wilburn [11:27] It has to feel overwhelming sometimes when you think of all the things that you could do with this, right? So you guys have started this, you've got these great, I mean, Pink's not my color, personally, but you guys look really good with these jerseys on. You did a ride recently, and you had a huge turnout. You had men and women, kids. You had everybody come out. It was the day of the dead, right? And I got to say, and I'm waiting on my T-shirt, but the T-shirt was hot. Who designed that?

Olivia [11:58] A friend of ours who’s in the group. Her brother did the artwork.

Randy Wilburn [12:07] It’s fabulous.

Sophia [12:09] She gives us ideas, we confirm, and they put it together.

Olivia [12:19] There were actually two T-shirts. One with the Arkansas State on the ad from one of our ladies; she rides the bike, but the other one who's very [inaudible 12:32] in school, one of her friends and a member of the board, Patty Valencia, she was in charge of that. She's amazing. Both of those T-shirts, the color, the design, and also the cultural connection with the bike, and that's the purpose of why we are creating these events.

Randy Wilburn [12:55] I love that. That T-shirt could be a nice cycling jersey, too, just FYI. But anyway, I will put some pictures of that in the Show Notes because you guys had a great event where I think you met at downtown Springdale, right? They had set it up nicely for you guys, and there were many people out there. How many people came out to that event?

Sophia [13:14] I think 100. Children, moms, dads, and friends.

Randy Wilburn [13:24] They painted their faces, the whole nine yards.

Sophia [13:26] I think the most important thing is that we are trying to bring culture to the cycling community, come and experience.

Randy Wilburn [13:38] It’s just adding your touch to it, I think that's it. And that's just the way to do it. I've been cycling most of my life, but I really got serious about five years ago, and once I came here, I decided I need to be cycling all the time. So, once you get bit by the bug, it's hard to turn it off, and that's the other thing, I like the camaraderie. I have some friends, a big shout out to Anthony Sumlin and Richard, and some other folks that I've gone out on the Greenway with on a regular basis. There's just nothing like that. There's nothing like just getting a bunch of people together saying, hey, I will meet you here, or I will meet you there, and then we go for a ride; it's great, and it's a lot of fun. So, what are your plans? How can we help you guys get the word out? Of course, we will push this out to the world, and we will share this through social media. But if somebody is listening to this, whether they are Latina or not, can they be involved with your organization?

Sophia [14:36] Yes. We are a diverse group, and we welcome everyone. We have lots of big plans coming up. We have three more events that we want to do, and you can volunteer or get involved, donating any which way you like. Also, just come and ride with us. We finally got a little bit of funding, so now we can give back to the community. We will probably be looking at two scholarships for education, hopefully in the coming year. And that's why we are so excited because we can give back. We will also be having a ride, just a friendly, fun ride, on December 19. It is just going to be a little ride, and it's going to be like a Christmas ride. Posada is also a cultural thing that we do. And I don't know if you know about this, but in Mexico, they go from house to house singing.

Randy Wilburn [15:30] I have heard of that before.

Sophia [15:31] And you eat there, or they offer you something to eat.

Randy Wilburn [15:38] I would be most excited about that.

Sophia [15:41] So, we're going to ride our bikes to one restaurant that will support us and then ride our bikes to another restaurant. So that will be cool, and we will see you in a little bit.

Randy Wilburn [15:49] And so that's on December 19. I'm not sure if this episode comes out by then, but I will make sure we give a shout out if it does. I will give a shout out either way on social media. So, if you're listening to this, and this is after December 19, we will make sure you have connections in the Show Notes on how to connect with Olivia and Sophia and how you can ride with them sometimes because I want to ride with you guys.

Sophia [16:10] You are welcome.

Randy Wilburn [16:10] I definitely want to do that.

Sophia [16:12] We plan to do a small drive for the women's shelter on December 19. That’s part of it too.

Randy Wilburn [16:18] So then you really have a heart not just to connect different people that want to learn more about biking, but you want to turn it back on its ear and give it back to the community?

Sophia [16:29] Yes, of course. It's all about giving and helping others as well.

Olivia [16:34] Because we don't want to be just like a little group that gets together on Wednesday afternoon, right? There is a lateral need for the Hispanic community to bring more women into cycling. There's not enough, and it is one of our missions to bring those ladies who have dedicated their whole life to take care of their families. We also want to break how we grew up, thinking that we don't have time to go and enjoy ourselves. Breaking the cycle involves getting more involved in the community and getting to know the city from a different perspective, from the bike. Everything looks different from a bike.

Randy Wilburn [17:23] So, what do you say to people that might be saying, well, this is all great, Olivia and Sophia, but I can't afford a bike right now. I know that can sometimes be a barrier like I know nobody would spend the money I spent on my bike. I love my bike, and it wasn't cheap. But what do you say to people that might be like, well, what do I do if I don't have a bike?

Olivia [17:43] Well, currently, we have four bikes that I use for training. Some were donated to us from Pedal It Forward and some we bought with our own money. We use those bikes to train the new ladies who want to join the group. But also, with this event, we create funding. Hopefully, we will have enough for women who want to learn, and we will get enough funding for the ladies for one bike a year or more. One of our passions that has touched my heart really deep is my son with a disability. One of the things that we want to do is help families who have a family member with a disability because we know how hard it is to purchase a bike. We are trying to make it more possible for those families. So, we are looking to donate one bike to a family who has a child with a disability. That’s on our agenda.

Randy Wilburn [19:02] Well, we have to see if we can get you more than just one bike. I mean, you guys are speaking my language when it comes to how you're giving back. And one of the things that I've always said about Northwest Arkansas in the six years that I've been here is that this is a giving community. I believe people are very generous from that perspective. Once the right person learns about you and what you're doing and your mission, all bets are off because you will often find people who will step out and want to help you. They just want to help you. That's why when I heard about you, I was like, I got to tell your story. I want to reach a wider audience and tell more people about what you guys are doing because I think it's great. Nobody needs to be the best-kept secret of Northwest Arkansas. I think the word should get out, and people should know, this is what's happening and what's going on.

Olivia [19:50] If they wanted to donate a bike they don't use, just reach out to us, and we will pick it up. There's always a need for a bike. We not only want to educate the ladies in that group to navigate the Greenway, but we also wanted to get involved with mountain bikes. Last week we had a mountain bike ride. We also want to get involved with the gravel, so we want to be everywhere.

Randy Wilburn [20:23] Why not? So, are you guys a 501c3? That's important. Okay, so I will make sure that we will put all that information in the Show Notes. Do you guys have a website now or not?

Olivia [20:37] Not yet, we are working on it.

Randy Wilburn [20:39] So right now, you are primary Instagram and Facebook. Okay. What is your username on Facebook?

Sophia [20:46] Arkansas, Latinas en Bici.

Randy Wilburn [20:51] So, Arkansas Latinas en Bici, if you look them up on Facebook, and of course, they're on Instagram, and we will connect with them on the Show Notes so that you guys can take a closer look at what Olivia and Sophia are doing. They're like sisters, but they're cousins, and they're doing something amazing here when it comes to bike riding. And again, they say it takes a village to create something special. And I think you guys in your corner of the village have put something together that I think has real legs. And so, I want to applaud you and congratulate you for what you guys are doing. And just again, my platform is always open to you to share all the stuff that you're doing and any way that we can promote it and let people know about it. I'm all about healthy living. I'm all about people taking advantage of Northwest Arkansas. So, since you guys have been here for a long time, you guys are truly like, oh geez, because you guys have been here for a while. Often, I will talk to people who have only been here for five or ten years like me. You guys have been here for a lifetime. What are some of your favorite things to do when you're not physically on your bike? I know biking would be one of them. That would be one of mine, but outside of that, what do you like to do here in Northwest Arkansas?

Sophia [22:14] I like going to the lake during the summertime, and I like to walk the trails; I just enjoy nature a lot. I like to be out and about.

Randy Wilburn [22:23] You can't get any more natural than here.

Sophia [22:26] It’s beautiful to research all the trails that Northwest Arkansas has. Devil’s Den is one of them. I enjoy trail walking a lot—the lake for sure, in the summertime.

Randy Wilburn [22:43] What about you?

Olivia [22:45] I usually go to the lake a lot during the summer. I also like to get together with my friends and family and make an Asana. Anything just to get together and make some food and enjoy the friendship and the family? I think those are some of my favorites.

Randy Wilburn [23:07] Other than the bike, that’s it? And how often do you ride?

Olivia [23:15] Well, I was riding a lot, but now this has been keeping me busy, a lot. Now, doing podcasts, interviews, emails, and meetings, has become a full-time job.

Randy Wilburn [23:30] I understand. It's funny how sometimes a passion you find can take on a life of its own. You might look back ten years from now and be like, this is a huge thing. I’ve got different groups in different parts of the country now and all that good stuff. I think you're onto something. I believe you have created a place where people can have agency and not feel disenfranchised. You have created a safe space for people to work out and to embrace something. Some people have never thought about or take the time to work out for themselves or get on a bike because that's something that you do if you don't have to work or something like that, or that's something that only rich people do. Everybody should be riding a bike. We talked about Holland and some other parts of the world where bikes are the first mode of transportation. There are all opportunities out there for you, so I really appreciate you guys just sharing your story today. And if anybody wants to reach you and get in touch with you guys who are listening to this podcast, and again, remember this podcast might play for a while. How should they reach you? Email, phone? What's the best way for them to connect with you guys?

Olivia [24:48] Both ways. My phone number is 479-366-4406, and our email is latinasenbici@gmail.com, or you can send us a DMS on Facebook or Instagram.

Randy Wilburn [25:04] That's how we connected. We kept going back and forth. When I first reached out to you and said, would you be on the podcast, you instantly responded, sure. I was like, great, you never know. Actually, be quiet as it’s kept, nobody has ever turned me down because everybody likes to talk about themselves, right? That's the most favorite station we like to tune into, WIFM, but what's in it for me. The bottom line is, I'm so glad that you guys obliged me and came on to tell your story because I think it needs to be heard. I think people need to know that there are options out there. And again, whether you are Latina or not, you guys can ride with these guys. I'm going to connect with you guys and ride with you. When you guys were out at the BIPOC, the people of color bike event that Beatrice and Kim put on, they have done it twice now. We did one in Fayetteville and one in Rogers. And I'm assuming they're going to try to do one in Bentonville, maybe when it warms up again.

Olivia [26:01] I hope so.

Randy Wilburn [26:03] I know, they need to do that. But they need to do it in all these areas as I think it's good because you have like these different pockets. You have a pocket of bikers in Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, and Fayetteville, but it would be nice for us to all come together.

Olivia [26:18] It's a one bike community. That's what I would like to see. Our group is a space where everybody is welcome and we try to create a welcoming atmosphere, not intimidation. We are not those elite women who have a skinny shape or expensive bikes. We are just simple women who want to create a representation, create a group where everybody feels welcome, and it doesn't matter what age you are. There’s no limit or your level of cycling.

Randy Wilburn [27:04] Here it is very clear, there's no body shaming going on. There’s no judgment about the type of bike that you bring. Maybe you start slow with a bike that you've had for years that you need to upgrade, but that's okay. The idea is just to get out and start biking and then build on it from there. And I think you guys create a platform for that.

Olivia [27:26] And get to see your city from a different perspective. Use the bike as a mode of transportation. Together, let’s create a bike community where we don't use cars as much; that’s what the future looks like.

Randy Wilburn [27:44] All right, so I'm going to put you on the spot. I'm going to ask you guys if you give me just a quick blurb if you want to speak in Spanish because we'd love for you just to tell those people that might listen. We will cut this piece of it up so that we can share it with other folks too, or you can share it, but if you want it to just give a Spanish commercial for Arkansas Latinas, en Bici, what would you say?

Olivia [28:05] Well, primanti is the Nosotros somos I can tell that msnbc is one group okay. This tiny northwester they are cancers in muestra. Mr. Hippo is in the para la comunidad latina aka disfruten pasang bc sin importar a lackluster vck tenga know the key midvale thing and they they will see Sondra para sus on this passion of mine pata a lower water Latin poco tiempo que la Loki is the most Amazonas Korea is the NA comunidad MBC Yuna comunidad whiskey lucilla Vc tambien como De Pere trasporti he kept a apprenda naviga in grimwade is also facing panorama tiempo Nieto is the big Avista Fayetteville in Seville como negara the Greenway and as the su casa on our own St. Lucia negocio su trabajo. Los esperamos is telesystem demola lambi tatsiana akiem crosscutting and they say oh the criada honesty lavida differentiate and to physical, emotional, mental, mental mental, this is thomassen Facebook and Instagram normalmente no contamos in Rogers pero Tambien is the mo different this lugares cavc Thomas como Springdale Bentonville is pero Santa many knows most soon, and I say grupo he does only many does.

Randy Wilburn [29:46] Okay, cool. Now, you know, it's so funny because I've been doing Duolingo since the pandemic happened. I speak German, so I've been brushing up on my German, but I've also been brushing up on my Spanish. I understand a lot of what you said, but for those listening that don't understand a word that she said, we'll make sure we put a translation in there for you. But I really did want her to speak directly to the community that both Olivia and Sophia have initially tried to attract because that is the core of their mission and what they're trying to do with Arkansas, Latinas en Bici. So, I appreciate you guys indulging us with that. Again, I want to encourage you to do that for those of you who want to learn Spanish. I told these guys, and I will say to you, the listeners of this podcast, that I was at an event about a year ago with some folks thinking about Rogers 2013, what Rogers is going to look like. And we were just focusing on Rogers, but there's a huge Latino population in Rogers, our Latin x population in Rogers, and it's growing. And one of the things that we talked about was the importance? Yes, I know, we are in America, and yes, I know, we speak English, but the importance of us embracing all the languages around us, and the idea that language is important; it's a bridge. And so, the more that we can learn other languages, the better off it will be. And I always tell the story of when I lived in Germany. Yes, I learned German because I was there. But people wanted to learn English because they knew I could speak English, so I shared with them. So, I encourage my Latin X brothers and sisters to share and encourage others to learn their language in the same way that they would learn English and go from there. But I appreciate you sharing that little snippet of what Arkansas Latinas en Bici is all about. And we will be sure to cut that up so that other people can hear about it and learn more about your organization and get involved because I think the more people, the better. Would you agree?

Olivia [31:43] Yes.

Randy Wilburn [31:45] Well, thank you guys so much. This has been amazing. I really appreciate you guys coming out to join me here at Juice Palm in Bentonville at the 8th Street Market. Definitely give Omar a shout out if you come in here. Get the I am Northwest Arkansas special, which is the Live Decadent. I think it's a smoothie with almond milk, cocoa nibs, honey, banana, peanut butter, and some ice; it's amazing. So, if you like peanut butter in your smoothies, that's the smoothie to get, Live Decadent here at Juice Palm at the 8th Street Market. Tell them Randy sent you. They will take good care of you. So that's all we have for this week. I appreciate you, ladies, again for coming on the podcast, and I'm definitely going to work on another episode with you guys in the near future. Maybe I will connect you guys with Beatrice and Kim and we will do something else or connect all of you guys with bike NWA and do some type of fundraiser so we can get more than one bike for the folks who need it.

Olivia [32:46] Thank you. Thank you for the invitation.

Randy Wilburn [32:49] Well, there you have it, folks. Another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. So excited to have Olivia and Sophia from Arkansas Latinas en Bici on this episode. I hope you guys enjoyed it and learned something today. And again, we are continuing to move this thing forward, continuing to tell the stories that matter here in Northwest Arkansas. I am having so much fun with this podcast, and more importantly than that, I just appreciate all the feedback that I'm getting from each and every one of you. As always, you can find this podcast wherever great podcasts can be found. Apple, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Spotify, I Heart Radio, and Amazon Alexa. You can ask Alexa to play the latest episode of The I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast and she will do that for you. So, check us out wherever great podcasts can be found. Rate and review us. Let us know what you think about the podcast and continue to tune in. We come out every Monday at noon. Every week we have a new episode of something great, an amazing happening, an event, a person, an organization, a movement like Arkansas, Latinas en Bici. Thank you guys so much for checking out this episode today, and we will see you next week. Peace.

TZL Open [34:01] We hope you enjoyed this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. Check us out each and every week, available anywhere that great podcasts can be found. For Show Notes or more information on becoming a guest, visit iamnorthwestarkansas.com. We will see you next week on I am Northwest Arkansas.

Additional Show Notes and Transcript Coming Soon.

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