Claire Buchar has turned her attention from racing in recent years, but that doesn't mean she can't rip if she needs to.
Buchar topped the pro women's field at the Pemberton Enduro on April 28, besting Laura Battista by just five seconds and nine seconds ahead of Brittany Phelan.
"I actually wasn't expecting to do that well because I had a few issues throughout the day. I had a good Stage 2 and that's what pulled me through for the win," she said.
On a day where all four stages had a different winner, all the contenders seemed to have their issues at one point or another during the day. "Everyone had their own adventures and I was lucky to sneak in there for first place," said Buchar. "Stage 1 was the longest stage and it definitely didn't feel like I was awake. It took me awhile to wake up. I also had some issues with my dropper post on that stage. I thought 'Oh well, this day isn't going to go that great,' so I was going to have fun."
However, one stage won't necessarily make or break you, as Buchar discovered. After a gravity-fed Stage 2 that played to Buchar's strengths and vaulted her into the lead, she admittedly had to hang on for the second half of the contest.
"I was pretty much done," she said with a chuckle. "I didn't have a lot left in the tank for Stage 3 and 4. They were very physical, especially Stage 3, and it showed in my results for that one. I just had no legs.
"I rode all the descending really well, but I didn't have any legs left."
Buchar explained her winter training was less than what it often is, and she's still finding her fitness as a result. Still, it was a gratifying feeling to win despite not being her strongest.
"I only trained as much as my body and my life allowed me to this winter," she said. "My skills and finesse were still there, and that's what got me through."
Another joy for Buchar was to see an impressive women's field that saw seven other riders finish within two minutes of her time.
"It was such a pleasant surprise and I had such a good day regardless that it was a pretty cool little bonus to come out with the win against some really strong girls. There was such a good turnout and all the girls were riding so fast and so strong," she said.
On the men's side, Jesse Melamed was in fine form as he cruised to the victory, besting fellow Enduro World Series rider Yoann Barelli by a minute and 42 seconds (1:42) and Buchar's husband Chris Kovarik by 1:52.
Melamed enjoyed the chance to race locally, especially in classic Pemberton conditions.
"It was awesome," he said. "Pemberton always puts on such a good race and it was fun.
"It was pretty close to summer. We had about a week of solid sun, so it was soft and fast, which is what Pemby usually is," he said.
Melamed, who won all four stages, enjoyed the first one, a long seven-and-a-half-minute rampage, but was also pleased with how organizers executed the finale, a blind stage that took over five minutes to complete.
"You're always worried that when you go somewhere else and they have a blind stage, you just figure that some people are going to know it," he said.
However, the start was well-known and a bunch of it was brand new as racers zig-zagged through the Pemberton system.
"Each trail had a different flavour to it, so it was awesome," he said. "It was nice because it really levelled the playing field.
"It's always nice to ride a brand-new trail."
After one of the best starts of his career on the Enduro World Series tour, Melamed is eager to get back out to challenge the globe's best in France later this month as the schedule resumes.
"It's good to know that I'm feeling strong, on pace and I'm ready to get back to the EWS," he said.
In the junior category, Lucas Cruz topped the field while Tristan Sanders and Milton McConville were second and third, respectively. In the open categories, Angeline McCurdy bested Stefanie Lachance and Amanda Myke in the women's event while Curtis Bennett edged out Robert Farrer and Logan Ness in the men's race. As for the masters, Gloria Addario bested Donna McMurtry and Julie Kozier in the women's race while Jeff Westlake eked out a win over Paul Kalisch and Jeff Larouche in the men's challenge.
Full results are online at spruceregistrations.com/porca/races/6/results.