Whistler's Jesse Melamed would like to put the 2018 Enduro World Series season behind him, and he's done a good job of it after the first two events of 2019.
Melamed opened with a fourth-place showing in Rotorua, New Zealand before an up-and-down day en route to an eighth-place finish in Tasmania, Australia on March 31.
Those are good enough to place him sixth overall after a quarter of the season, and with some time off before the real meat of the campaign gets going, Melamed is hungry for more.
"Normally, I would have been very satisfied with top 10s but now I know that I can ride better," he said.
While Melamed was just over 10 seconds off the podium at the first event, he's more focused on narrowing the 51-second gap between him and winner Martin Maes of Belgium. Still, he took the result as a sign of progress.
"I did work in the offseason and to have it all come together and work was pretty awesome. People thought I should be bummed by not getting third but for me, third is just another place and being fourth was just as close," he said.
The second race, meanwhile, started off extremely well with three consecutive top-five stages. However, the race's back half turned into a roller-coaster for Melamed.
"I was right there where I wanted to be. I was second halfway through the day and made some rookie mistakes, which is good, because it kind of fired me up," he said. "I'm just fired up for the next month to prepare for the third round."
After those mistakes resulted in placements of 69th and 44th in Stages 4 and 6, respectively, Melamed recalled there are plenty of lessons he can take as he moves forward in the season.
"Enduro is amazing because you're always learning. This is my seventh year and I'm still learning new things," he said. "What happened to me on Stage 4, I tried to push myself a bit too hard physically. I was just curious how hard I'd trained and I wanted to see where my fitness was at. I went a bit too far over the line, got too fatigued and I just made a mistake because I honestly couldn't see straight.
"There's a limit to how hard you can push on a stage ... even if you can push more, maybe you shouldn't."
However, Melamed proceeded to not only recover, but win the next stage and put himself right back in the mix.
"I really wanted that stage win because I knew I could do it and I wanted to see 'Am I still one of the fastest riders?' I proved that," he said. "I knew that it suited me because there's this huge rock bed at the top of the stage that's similar to one I ride in Emerald."
The 27-year-old explained that he prepared for 2019 by trying to actually take a bit more time away from the bike, not worrying about missing a few days to recover from a cold or the like.
"I took it really slow in the offseason, got on my bike when I wanted to and didn't really go fast all the time," he said. "I always rode behind someone, which I don't normally do. I took a big break off the bike as well so I could reset and get excited again when I got back on the bike."
On the flip side, he put in significant time working to get stronger after injuries have thrown a wrench in several recent seasons.
"I can crash and walk away from them without any injuries because I'm well balanced and strong, so that's something new," he said.