sorry for the lack of flair in this entry, it's for Cyclingnews.com (look under rider diaries) and I'm too fried to write more. This coffee shop has no air cond. and no food either. I'm outa here! Photos tomorrow.
Start of the day Jeff and Chris were 2 minutes down on the leaders but they were in good spirits and motivated to take the lead. The days stage was 82k long with 4 big climbs, 2 deep stream crossings and 2 aid stations. The heat would again play a role as the temps went well over 90° and many of the logging road climbs were very exposed due to clear cutting. The big carrot of the day was a 10k section of very windy and technical singletrack filled with roots, logs and bridges with no place to pass.
Chris and Jeff started strong but about half way into the stage Chris had a flat and they dropped out of the breakaway group of Gary Fisher, La Ruta, Flight Center and Cannondale Monavei (sp?). It didn't take long for Chris to change it but they were dropped and had to fight back leading a chase group of about 10 other teams who didn't seem to want to help with the chase.
The pivotal moment came when Chris and Jeff approached aid station 2 and saw the lead group refueling, although the lead group didn't see the chasers approaching. Chris and Jeff both had full bottles so they blew through the aid station and took the leaders by surprise. The tactic worked as they held off the chasing teams up one final punchy road climb before dropping into the single track that would take them to the finish line.
While hard-fought and exhausting, Chris and Jeff are now leading the GC.
gained 4 minutes on Kona and 10 minutes on the leaders - Monavie (sp?)
On a lighter note, Poz (who is growing a moustache) and Jason (who is sporting a sweet Fu-Man-Chu) also moved up in the GC but found time for some fun on the trails finishing very strong (not sure where we are today but we started in 44th).
The stream crossings were sketchy!
Playing it conservative paid off as many teams were fried by the heat and climbs but the dopplegangers finished fast & furious in the wildly-fun singletrack. True children at heart they both fit right in at the local kid's water park for a cool-off.