Charge BCXC charts a well rounded (and fast) path to the races
Lower Mainland-based cross country squad builds off first-year success on and off the trackPhoto by: Filip Funk
One of Canada’s newest youth cross country teams is quickly proving to also be one of its fastest. Charge BCXC is a youth-based team, its older riders are still mostly juniors, taking on races across Canada and, in 2022, around the world.
The team launched in 2021 and quickly earned a series of notable results. Riders like Mara Roldan and Cam McCallum earned national podiums. But the results extend down the age groups. Maggie Cormack in under-13 and Kelan Wells in under-15 both added to the team’s successes at B.C. provincial championships. Griffin Reid mixed cross country provincials success with a podium at enduro national championships in Whistler.
All the squad’s riders contributed to Charge BCXC winning Cycling BC’s Trade Team of the Year award in 2021, the outfit’s debut season.
“I was really stoked on that. One of our goals was just to make cross country awesome,” says team co-founder Tobin McCallum. “Here in B.C. we have Red Truck and these high-end road teams, the glamorous downhill teams and, you know, cross country is a hard sport. It takes a lot of work and it’s maybe not as flashy as some of the other sports. So to take the team award as a cross country team, and a youth-based trade team, I thought that was awesome.”
Charge BCXC: training for life
While the Cycling BC award is an impressive feat, and one McCallum is proud of, he’s also quick to add that results aren’t the only focus at Charge BCXC.
“Originally the idea was to take four of the fastest kids and create this super racing, results-driven team. It didn’t take long to realize we could make something bigger. It turned into this social outlet with what started as eight kids. The pandemic hit and it became a social outlet and positive environment. It’s one hundred per cent race-focused, but we keep it simple. The kids are all friends as well as teammates, and we all meet up and ride bikes a couple times a week and have fun.” McCallum says. “I think that the positive support and committed work ethic the team creates sets them up for success in anything that they do.”
While McCallum, whose son Cam races on Charge BCXC, wants the team to help carry its young roster to success between the tape, he knows there is life after racing. The team is a big part of the lives of its young riders and it has to prepare all of them for the future, not just the ones who continue racing.
“We see that every member of Charge is a good young person, on a good pathway for success. Whether that’s post-secondary, racing, whatever they pursue in life. What they’ve learned in sport and athletics is going to translate into a successful life. Mike [Charuk, head coach] is very particular about this terminology, that we’re creating outstanding young citizens.”
Creating a positive path to success
That life-beyond-racing approach is reflected in the way the athletes themselves talk about the team.
“This team proved to me that I am able to do anything I set my mind to,” says Mathilde Roldan. “It has been absolutely wild to see just how much everyone has improved in the past year. We have helped each other push our limits and learn how to be better racers altogether.”
Roldan even created a short documentary about Charge’s head coach, Mike Charuk, outlining how his approach to racing is part of the team’s success.
“I remember just how excited the whole Charge team was when we had our first ride with the new bikes and fresh kits. It was a pretty special moment and I think we all felt a sense of pride and togetherness at what we were able to build,” says Roldan, reflecting on what stood out from the team’s first season. “However, I think that the team trip to Quebec was the highlight of my year. The racing was awesome, and the team dynamics were always on point. It was a really special two weeks.”
Griffin Reid echoes the importance of that positive team environment.
“Charge has really made a fun safe training space where it feels good to be yourself,” says Reid. “Everyone works together and pushes each other to be better athletes, and I think this is why we have even more people joining the team this year.”
From B.C. to start lines around the world
From the original eight riders, the team’s nearly doubled its size for 2022. For McCallum, as team manager and co-founder, the goal is to get as many of those athletes into national team programs as possible.
Not all of Charge’s athletes are from B.C. Eric Sol is a junior racer from Korea that moved to Squamish just to train with Mike Charuk. While every Canada Cup he’s raced as part of the squad is technically an international race for Sol, he’s set his sights on the world stage in 2022.
“I look forward to race representing the Charge BCXC Racing team and achieving the goals such as qualifying for World Championships and becoming the Korean national champion as a second-year junior racer,” says Sol. “I believe anything is possible with the support of this incredible team.”
It’s a long way to go to race mountain bikes, but Sol says the environment at Charge isn’t something he could find otherwise.
“The team provided me opportunities to always push myself and stay motivated to help me reach my highest potential in racing. This is something I could not have done without the support of the coaches and teammates around me. So I can’t imagine where I would be today without this team”