Last weekend in North Lake Tahoe California, Paul Webb rode to an impressive 20th place finish in the National Mountain Bike Championships. While being amongst the top 20 in the nation is no mean feat, Paul accomplished it despite a couple of major setbacks.
When Paul’s flight arrived in Sacramento, he soon discovered that his bike hadn’t. With a few business hours left in the day, Paul decided to drive up the mountain to Lake Tahoe in hopes of finding a loaner in time for the next day’s championship event at noon. Fortunately, a local shop in Tahoe City offered to let him use a bike, and after taking it for a quick ride and dialing it in, Paul was ready to race the biggest mountain bike race of his career on a bike he really didn’t know. Then the morning of the event, the airlines dropped off his bike at the hotel, so he decided to race it instead of the loaner. So he rushed to get the bike built and tuned so he could have time to warm up. Feeling that the bike was ready to go, Paul was ready for the start.
At the start of a national championship, it is customary for the defending national champion and then each individual conference champion to be called to the start line. After that each school is called to the start, rider by rider, until the complete list of riders has been called up. But Paul’s name or school was never mentioned, so he was left to start at the very back. Paul rode a great race, passing over half the field during the first 2 of 4 laps, riding into 12th at one point. The effort of having to start at the back, however, took its toll and Paul faded somewhat but still finished a very strong 20th. The next day Paul completed the Short Track Cross Country event in 27th place, landing MHC Cycling within the top 22 teams in the nation despite, at this point, only having a one rider team. Rest assured that Paul will be back for more next year, and with a larger team in tow. For now, Paul is taking a brief respite before gearing up for the collegiate cyclocross season, which culminates with the national championships in Portland, OR, in mid December.