Video/Photos: @pellegustavs | Riding: @max_mcculloch | Music: @kandleosborne
It was during the second transfer stage at the Hammerfest Enduro in Parksville this spring that Dean Tennant introduced me to Max. After he took the second step on the expert podium later that day, it was clear that this polite teenager has a very particular set of skills, skills that most of us would take a very long career to acquire. Here is a video shot on his local trails and a quick interview to get to know Max.
- Pelle GustavsName, age, hometown?
Max McCulloch, 17, Victoria BCHow/when did you get into riding? What was your first mountain bike? How long before you started racing?
I’ve been riding since I was tiny. Not mountain biking specifically, but I loved to rip around the yard and explore whenever we went camping. My first mountain bike was a yellow hardtail from Canadian Tire. It never broke down on me and it is still my favourite bike I’ve ever had to this day. I got into true mountain biking when I was 10 years old after a friend lent me his bike and took me to the closest trails. I wiped out within the first 200m of the ride, but I was hooked from then on. I did my first race a year later and it was a local Super D race. You train with Jeff Ain? Can you talk about how that started and how he has changed your attitude toward riding/racing?
I first met National XC team coach Dan Proulx on the trails in Victoria and he eventually led me to Jeff. Both Dan and Jeff are amazing coaches and they have really opened my eyes to what racing and training at a high level is like while still having a ton of fun! I currently train with Jeff all year round as well as other athletes who are part of the same program. You also run? Do you play any team sports? Has biking taken over, or do you still find time for other sports now?
I also run cross country with Oak Bay High School. It’s a big team and we do all sorts of fun stuff so it’s a really good time! Biking takes up a lot of my time, but I manage to get in some running once in a while to mix it up. Currently I don’t do any other team sports because it’s too hard to fit it in and honestly - I’d rather be biking! How is riding in the summer different than the winter, how do you make school and biking go together?
In the summer I’m racing a lot and traveling so I don’t ride the local trails as much, but in the winter I normally stick close to home. School and biking fit together pretty well except when it gets dark at 4pm and I only have an hour of light after school. I do ride in the dark when I need to (with a light of course!).What are some of the first trails you rode when you started? What trail areas have now become your favourite on the Island? Favourite trail?
I started out riding at Hartland (The Dump Trails) and it’s still my go-to place. Initially, my favourite trail was Torpedo Run because it’s fast, flowy, you can jump. I’ve probably ridden it 200 times... not joking. Out of the whole Island I would have to say Cumberland is my favourite trail area because the trails have the perfect flow to them while still being technical. But I’d have to say my favourite trail on the Island is Jughead in Parksville. The flowiest trail I have ever ridden in my life, but you don’t lose your elevation quickly either.What was the race highlight of your 2015 season? What was your favourite non-race moment on the bike this year? Why?
I was really happy with coming 15th as a first year Junior Expert at the National Championships for Cross Country. It was my first time racing at the national level and it was quite intimidating at the start line (I was the smallest guy in my category). Also coming 2nd in Expert at the Hammerfest Enduro was a highlight for sure. My favourite non-race moment was attending the XC national team camp at Bear Mountain Resort. It was so cool to bike with riders of that caliber. Your two main supporters are Oak Bay Bikes and Rumble. Can you talk about how you got to know them and how their support has affected your racing?
Oak Bay Bikes has supported me for a while now - it’s awesome to know you have the support of a shop if something goes wrong. OBB is an extremely varied shop with people that are experts in all disciplines. It’s great whenever I need advice! I’ve been riding for Rumble for the past year, but even before I was supported by them. I already loved their product and I drank it all the time. It was a perfect fit. I really believe in their product and they are an amazing company. I use Rumble not only as a recovery drink after rides and races, but also as fuel before my activities. It tastes good too!.Your parents are obviously big supporters as well. What is the best part of having them on your team? How often do you get to ride with them? Did they grow up riding bikes or other sports?
My parents are probably the sickest parents in the world. They ride with me, they support me at all my races, and they are just straight up awesome. I actually got them into MTB about five years ago and I think I got them hooked! They are both big supporters and volunteers in the biking community. They run two school biking teams and organize lots of races through the School Bike League. They have also coached a ton of other sports that my sister and I have done including volleyball, basketball, baseball, hockey, and cross- country running. My parents both grew up doing a lot of sports and competed in volleyball at very high levels (national team, provincial team). I get to ride with my parents quite a bit, which is great!Who on the World Cup circuit are you stoked on right now? Any local riders on the Island?
For DH it's really awesome to see Mark Wallace getting up there into the top ten (he's from Vancouver Island too). A cool thing about the Island is that there are so many amazing riders from all disciplines of all ages competing at a really high level. For 2016 what race/event are you looking forward to the most? What are your goals for the season?
I am really looking forward to a ton of races but the two biggest ones are probably the Canadian Cross Country Nationals and the Enduro World Series at Whistler (if I can get a spot). Any shout outs?
Shout out to everyone that has supported me and cheered me on, Pelle for making this video and putting this all together, my cat, and most of all my parents!