Jesse Melamed saw a lot of nines this season.
The local Enduro World Series rider liked it best when he took his first-ever top-10 finish outside of Canada, notching a ninth-place finish in Ireland in the second race of the year.
But Melamed's momentum was halted after suffering a broken ankle when filming for Dirt Diaries in late June. In the two races after returning from about a three-month layoff, Melamed posted a respectable 39th in Spain and a disappointing 69th in Italy.
"You never really want to do worse than you think you can. I had to accept that I had an injury and I'd be slower and I wouldn't be where I wanted to be," he said. "It was a good trip and I just started my training for next year. In terms of where I want to finish, no matter what, I want to do the best I can.
"I was 39th in Spain which, all things considered, is pretty good so I was happy with that. I had a mechanical in Italy, so I didn't have a good result there."
Melamed noted most riders coming back off injury usually have some mental demons haunting them as well, as the causes of their injuries were likely rather violent. His injury, meanwhile, was caused more by an awkward landing than anything,
"It was weird. I didn't have a huge accident when I crashed. It was just a silly thing. I didn't have any fear to overcome, so in my mind, I felt like I was riding good and I was happy and I was feeling good on the bike," he said. "I went pretty slow (in the first stage) and I would keep on talking to myself and keep myself calmed down.
"Over the first day, I went from about 50th to 20th on the stages so I rode into my skills again. I was feeling really good on the bike, but the fitness wasn't there because it was a long time off the bike."
Melamed said he was in a cast for about 10 weeks after the late-June injury and the bone had healed well, but his muscles atrophied without use for so long.
"I couldn't walk, so I did a lot of rehab. It was boring rehab because I couldn't do any muscular things. It was just painful movements and getting everything in motion and really just working out the muscles," he said. "Luckily, biking is pretty good rehab because it's low-impact and it gets the blood going and moves the ankle around a bit.
"Almost every day I got on the bike, it felt a little bit better and better and better."
Melamed explained the final races came at just the right time for him to get back in the swing of things before the season capped off.
"I don't think I could have done a week earlier," he said. "Considering that, I couldn't have been happier with how the trip went."
Heading into the offseason, Melamed will continue to rehab his ankle to try to prevent it from becoming a nagging injury, but will otherwise treat the time off like normal.