Jesse Melamed knew he'd been riding well all season, but the results weren't where he wanted them to be early on.
That tide has been turning, though, as the Enduro World Series racer from Whistler has started to find his way into the top 10.
That continued in Aspen Snowmass, Colo. last weekend as the 25-year-old snagged a fifth-place finish to continue the good vibes.
In between EWS competitions, Melamed completed the BC Bike Race (BCBR), hitting the top 10 in that seven-day stage race as well. However, after such a grind, he wasn't sure how his body would react shifting back to the enduro side of things. As it turns out, he didn't have much to worry about.
"Consistency and confidence helped me this weekend. Coming off of BCBR, I was a little worried both my fitness and skills would be lacking at this race. I think fitness might have held me back a bit in the longer stages but my descending skills were thankfully still sharp," Melamed wrote via email. "I didn't finish Day 1 as good as I felt, 10th is great but I felt faster than that. I just kept my head up and trusted that I had the pace. That's what worked and Day 2 went better."
Melamed finished the two-day event strong with his best placement in a stage, taking second in the sixth and final stanza. Despite that result, though, he was a little put off with that part of the course.
"A second on Stage 6 might make that my favorite but to be honest I was scared the whole stage. We were going over 60km/h on rough trail. It was crazy," he wrote.
This weekend's result was Melamed's best-ever in Colorado after taking eighth last year. He acknowledged he didn't allow himself much time to acclimatize to the higher conditions, but said he wanted to prove it wouldn't be a factor.
"Besides the high speeds and narrow sections of trail I think the terrain is similar to home, that helps. I also think I just never feel like I'm going fast enough, so with the high-speed open sections you can really push the speed. It was a game of how long you could go without touching the brakes," he said.
The biggest factor, Melamed explained, was that he maintained the style of riding that he employed early in the season and it finally paid off. However, he was worried he'd lost some of his mojo in the intervening weeks after some rough days before heading south.
"I really just strive to ride my best. I had a bad week before I left with some big crashes and bad riding. So I was nervous that I had lost my confidence and speed. It's great to know I'm still riding at the pace I had at the last few races. Now I can build on that and give it my all for Whistler," he said. "Obviously I want to win but I know anything can happen. I'm trying not to expect anything, I'm just going to focus on riding my best."
Other riders with local connections were Frenchman Yoann Barelli, who took 23rd among pro men, and Australian Leonie Picton, who was 26th among pro women.