Felix Abraham said he hasn't felt like himself for much of the season.
But the Pemberton enduro rider found was he was looking for in the July 31 Rossland race. In the Canadian National Enduro Championship series opener, Abraham took the U21 men's division win by four seconds. Abraham shared the podium with Andreas Massitti and fellow Whistlerite Carter Krasny.
"During the race, I was feeling really tired because it was a very long day, but the stages felt good. I didn't flat or have any mechanicals, so it was a very good race for me," he said. "I was pretty surprised when I looked at my time and I ended up placing first. Lately at all my races, I've had trouble putting it together.
"This, right here, it all came together really nicely for me."
Abraham explained the Rossland course is similar to what he rides in Pemberton and its technical features separated the stronger riders from the field. He noted smoother courses in Kamloops and Williams Lake he's ridden recently resulted in the bulk of riders putting up near-identical times, while in Rossland, those who didn't make the podium were well off the pace.
"Everyone can open up and ride around the same speed but here, the top three riders were fairly close together and then there was quite a bit of a gap between the rest of us," he said. "All the riders are definitely put at a different level when there's some technical riding on the trail."
Cruising on familiar-feeling trails gave Abraham a boost of confidence, and he got a second shot in the arm when he realized he had won.
Abraham took the overall win despite not finishing first in any of the stages. He took a couple of second-place results and kept his times within a couple seconds of the leaders to have the math work out in his favour when everything was added up.
"I managed to open up a bit more and not hold back so much," he said. "When I managed to open up, I actually got some speed down."
Another factor was the suffocating start to the season, as Abraham jetted from race to race while at the height of his school year. He's now settled into more of a rhythm that he hopes to continue, including at Revelstoke on the Labour Day weekend.
"Every weekend of the month of May was a race and was super busy. I was also in school writing exams and also doing my Level 1 coaching for work," he said. "Now that it's summer and I have more time, I feel relaxed at the races, too."
Other local riders also performed well, as Jennifer McTavish notched a win in the U21 women's category while Keeley Wentzel took third.
In the pro men's category, Spencer Wight and Shane Gayton hit the top 10 in fifth and sixth.
In other enduro news, the North American Enduro Tour (NAET) returned to Squamish with The Gryphon on Aug. 6.
Leonie Picton captured the pro women's title by edging Laura Battista, while Sea to Sky riders Josh Carlson and Dylan Wolsky hit the podium in first and third, respectively. Local Shane Gayton also performed well, placing fifth.
In the masters women's division, Whistler's Cathy Zeglinski hit the podium in third while notching a time that put her fifth overall among women.
Complete results are available at www.naetmtb.com.