ISDE: Day 3

Well, we made it through the third day. But it wasn't easy. As if getting out of bed and looking forward to a front tire change and possibly a filter swap before heading out the gate was not enough, Day 3 was a repeat of Day 2. This meant more rocks and more dust as in not just another day riding the same tests and terrain, but more in volume. Seem 400 some riders ripping over the trails managed to knock off any coating of dirt exposing the mass of tire threatening rocks. Even ISDE ace Jeff Fredette suffered a rear flat.Add in the hacked out special tests which are much harder thanks to two days of abuse and Day 3 was a really rough day for everyone. But wait we're not done, there's more. The cooling (we use that term loosely here) breeze that riders enjoyed yesterday was non-existent today leaving the dust hanging in the air longer and letting the temperatures climb. Did we mention Jason soldiered on and finished in good standing, without a flat, despite complaining all the way to the Parce Ferme about being sooo tired? He's hanging in there and Team Dirt Rider (Rich Caselli has dubbed us) survives another day. The same can be said for the rest of the American gang who made it out of Day 2. Yesterday was pretty rough - we lost the entire women's contingent; Heidi Landon crashed out (smashing her pipe and giving her thigh a very impressive bruise), Amanda Mastin also crashed (spraining her ankle and houring out) and Lissa Arsenault ran out of gas, but obtained some fuel then got herself lost and finally houred out.The Trophy and Junior Teams also held their own today. Suffering from a nasty bug, Ty Davis kept going, but his results were understandably down some from yesterday. Kurt Caselli looks to be the top American so far. Caselli has been the only one to close in on the dominating Aussie Stefan Merriman. Merriman who won two of five today's tests, faced some serious heat from French Junior Trophy rider Freddy Blanc, who himself won a test. The other challenger, Arnaud Demeester won one of the classes but was fairly far down on a few result lists. The rest of the USA riders had mixed results. It did appear at quick glance that Jason Raines rode better today with his best finish a 15th in the talent stacked 250 2-stroke class. Mike Lafferty is riding in the 400 4-stroke class, which Stefan Everts is still be holding the lead, but he turned in some superb finishes - a 4th and a 5th. Everts is showing his mirth in the enduro format although the transfer sections in the rocks may not be his forte, he positively rails on the tests. Today he won four of the five tests!Tomorrow will be a new route and return to the coast, which means more sand. The news is bringing mixed reviews in the American pit - the sand riders are easy to spot. They are looking forward to the route, while the rest (from more normal climes in the States) were actually enjoying today's rockfest. For Team DR, it's back to the massage table (which is sounding like a good idea to chase driver Bryan who has been spending his days playing rally car driver in the Fiat from check to check). We'll be chasing our Motrin down with Red Bull and Bryan might share his stash of dark chocolate covered espresso beans in the morning with Jason (maybe it'll help him out of better faster).And the best news: only 2 1/2 days to go!