Our final race on the Northern Mariana Islands took place on the tranquil island of Saipan. Just a short 50 minute flight from Guam, both US territories yet a totally different feel. From the air Saipan reminds me of what I believed an island should look like as a kid, lush green vegetation surrounded by lily white sandy beaches leading into cristal clear turquoise ocean waters. Really is a place I believe many would be happy to live out their last days. However at the tender age of 25 I still naively crave the frantic high paced life many of my peers enjoy or perhaps endure on a daily basis while commenting on how jealous they are of my island hopping. Funny that.
Whatever the reason be it blessing or curse here I was for the second time in my short yet colourful life and very grateful to be back. Was great reconnecting with old friends and catching up on all the events of the past year. At times the progression of others can seem like stagnation in your own life but regardless it's important to celebrate the victories or growth of friends however big or small the accomplishment may be.
With such a tightly packed racing schedule it doesn't allow you much time to correct the mistakes of a previous race but merely identify the shortcomings and plan to prepare better next time around. With Xterra Guam, Saipan and West Championships in Las Vegas spread over just a two week period the days in between are few and usually spent out on course refreshing the memory and trying to get the body to bounce back as fast as possible. Tapering correctly for each event would quickly result in a serious drop in overall fitness so it is very important to identify your key races early on in the season and try your best to manage the training volume or fatigue surrounding the rest. I can't say I have found the ideal formulae yet and with Dan able to handle a slightly bigger training volume than myself it does leave me guessing at times. Still whatever way you break down it's been a fantastic start to my season and one I am excited to continue learning from.
With two weeks on the Northern Mariana Island of Guam between Xterra Philippines and Xterra Guam Dan and myself were motivated to set up a micro training camp and take full advantage of our mini oasis. Peter Lombard is a Doctor on the Island and has an amazing ocean view bachelors pad and after much convincing agreed to host the two Africans for a second year, much gratitude must be sent his way in aiding with our preparations for the next block of racing.
After what seemed like the calmest and most focused two weeks of 2014 thus far we were a little fatigued but excited to be racing soon with another opportunity to test ourselves against some of the World Tours best athletes.
As with almost every event we travel to, Xterra Guam has its own unique set of challenges. The majority of the bike course is smooth, fast and has the distinct feeling of an endless pump track! Lots of fun! However at the mere mention of precipitation the infamous 'red dirt' becomes a total nightmare for anyone on two wheels. So much so that locals are known to carry ice cream sticks with them in case it begins raining and they need the 'tool' to help remove the red clay/mud which brings any bike to an immediate stop within minutes. Needless to say we kept a very close eye on the weather forecast. Race morning arrived and we were blessed with the most beautiful day! Clear skies with no chance of rain, time to go racing!