Start at your goal, then work backwards.
Ride the Cape Epic.
Ride a 7-day MTB stage race.
Go on an off-road MTB summer tour.
Ride a 3-day MTB stage race.
Ride an epic MTB one-day race.
Get a few solid seasons of summer MTB racing under the belt.
Move to a place (in the greater Seattle area) with easy access to mountain biking.
Buy a mountain bike.
Work in a bike shop.
Move to Seattle.
*Various steps may be repeated, overlap, and even skipped-- though skipping is not advised, as that's less fun.
My real goal map would be a bit more complex than that-- it would include some classes, some cross-training, some friend-making, a lot of riding, and a belief that I can let myself do what I want to do. Because that's a funny thing I learned about people this summer while on my cross-country tour--
that too many people actually know what they want-- and yet, they're still afraid to go and get it.
I plan on getting mine. Do you?