As he prepares for his home competition in Crankworx in just a couple weeks, Jesse Melamed got a major shot in the arm.
The local Enduro World Series rider posted a career-best finish on courses away from his hometown this weekend, notching an eighth-place showing at Aspen Snowmass in Colorado.
In a bit of a twist, Melamed said he generally doesn't feel overly confident going into the Colorado course, yet still manages to pull out some quick times.
"To be honest, every time I go there, I don't expect too much because the altitude hurts and the trails don't really seem to suit me, but I've had very good luck in Colorado. Some of my best results over the last few years have been there," he said. "I had the speed and I just rode my own race.
"I just seem to do well. Everyone's dealing with the altitude and I don't think I get away with not feeling it. I just don't listen to it."
Overall, Melamed completed the course in a time of 53 minutes, 38.75 seconds (53:38.75), 66 seconds behind winner Jared Graves. As well, he posted a third-place showing on Stage 5 and fourth-place finishes on Stages 2 and 6, helping to fortify his times.
"It's just the way the season's going. It's hard to see the trend because I started the season with an injury, but the last few races, I've gotten 16th, 13th and eighth with top-five stages in all of those," Melamed explained. "The speed is there. I just have been riding like I have, not pushing it, just stressing my speed is back.
"I'm not oversteering or pushing through corners and washing out. I'm trusting however comfortable I feel that that speed is going to be fast enough.
"It's the most confidence-boosting thing I could have."
The good vibes come at a near-ideal time for Melamed, as the next race on the docket is the SRAM Canadian Open Enduro here in Whistler in two weeks' time. While he's trying to downplay all the threads that seem to be pointing in a positive direction, it's hard not to think about the possibilities, Melamed said of the chance to improve on 2013's sixth-place finish.
"I don't think about it too much because I'm not that good under pressure, but I just try to keep my head straight and ride like I've been doing," he said. "I'm really just going to enjoy it. I love the trails at home and spending time with friends and family, it's going to be a fun time.
"I'm not trying to expect any single result, but two years ago, I won a stage and showed that I could compete with the fastest guys... I've been putting up top fives away from home, so if I get back on my home trails, I have a good shot at competing for the top (spot)."
Meanwhile, Josh Carlson was just two spots behind in 10th, Yoann Barelli placed 35th and Dylan Wolsky was 74th. In the pro women's division, Sarah Leishman took 19th, while Conrad Murdoch took 18th in the U21 men's category.