Mill Bay's John Webster has taken his trials riding to a whole new level after placing a very unexpected seventh at the world championships in Quebec last year. His goal at the time was to place in the top 20 and first among North Americans, but in the end he was keeping up to the top riders from around the world.
He was in Whistler this past weekend for Trialsworx, where he finished his five sections with an uncharacteristic 15 points. Usually he's in the single digits.
"This was the hardest year by far," he said. "The lines were really long and it takes a bit longer to set up for some of the big moves. I didn't time out on any sections, but when you're rushing the clock and dab out it's the same thing. It was all or nothing."
The best score in trials is zero, with a point added for every time you touch your foot to the ground to a maximum score of five. If you touch a hand to the ground or go over the time limit you get five points.
Webster has made a bigger commitment to training and conditioning and is hoping to match or better his performance at last year's world championships next month in Switzerland.
"I've just been training lots, and I've changed my bike a little to suit the sections," he said.
"I'm also going over there with a proper minder this time, so hopefully I'll fare better than last year. The minder watches other riders and looks at lines, and carries around tools so you can fix your bike. Brett McCullough is a local rider from the area and he's a really good mechanic, which will help me a lot.
"I've also got a huge course set up in my backyard. I got an excavator so there's a lot of logs and rocks, similar to what you can see around Crankworx. There are also a lot of good spots to ride in Victoria, at the beaches and parks. I ride every other day and I've been doing stuff like plyometrics to get stronger."
Even as the top rider in North America, and top 10 in the world, Webster is mainly self-funded. Rockman Bikes is helping him out, as well as a new company called Screw Clothing. If all goes well at the worlds he might be in a position to take part in the Trials World Cup next season rather than just the championship event.
"My goal is to do as well as last year, and to ride in the top eight," he said. "It would be better to come in the top five or even a top three, but if I can ride in the final (top eight advance) my goal would be accomplished. I know a little better what I'm up against and I'm hopefully a lot more prepared."