Charlotte Worthington may have only jumped on a BMX a couple of years ago, but she's become a pretty big name already. Very transition-focused, with decent style and some solid tricks, Chaz Worther has become a regular fixture on the international A-list of female BMX riders.
Bas Keep recognised Charlotte's strong promise and added her to the Tall Order squad, which was an expert move – around the same time, Team GB started supporting Charlotte as part of the Olympic BMX programme. When industry moguls talk the talk and hype a rider, then that rider has the skills to back it up, good things happen!
Recently Charlotte was involved in the X-Games women's BMX demo – an impressive accolade – and just before that she had a proper road trip around Portugal with the Tall Order crew. Just after riding a rather gnarly spot, I chatted with her about how an adventure like that stacks up against the Team GB training.
Q&A with Charlotte Worthington
– How does going on a trip like this compare to the Olympic stuff you've been doing?
"It's massively different. I've been BMXing for nearly two years, not a long time, so this year's basically the first year that I've started to go on trips. For my first trips to actually be the Olympic focused ones, like FISE in Japan, there's a whole lot more pressure. Not necessarily pressure from the people who have taken us there, like Jamie Bestwick and the coaches, but more from myself. I put pressure on myself to perform a certain way, like, if I'm going to an Olympic style course, I've got to learn the whole course and trick every ramp, whereas coming here that's literally not possible.
"You're forced to just have fun, which sounds kinda stupid but it is more relaxed and fun on a trip like this"
At home I'll try and ride a specific park or a specific ramp that's got the facilities for what I want to do, but on a trip like this it's really not possible. You're forced to just have fun, which sounds kinda stupid but it is more relaxed and fun on a trip like this. It's more like a little holiday for me."
– Is it a different mindset? On a road trip you'll ride strange skateparks that are nothing like the ones you'll be riding for the Olympic BMX training. How different is it showing up and making the most of what’s there, versus going to a facility to learn tricks?
"The mindset you’ve gotta have is different. You’ve got to have a relaxed approach because if you come out on a trip wanting to flair everything you see or barspin every little transition, it’s probably not going to happen. And you’ve got to accept that because the facilities aren’t as good, it could be sketchy or dangerous to do tricks, like this reservoir pipe spot. You’ve got to accept it and be humble with your riding and think, 'You know what, this isn’t designed for what I want to do in an ideal world, but I can still do something simple that I enjoy.'"
– Has it been nice to go to a spot and just think, 'I don’t have to do anything here if I don't want to.' If you feel like trying something it’s a bonus, no pressure. Is that how it is?
"Yeah, definitely. I don’t think Bas or any of the boys expected me to come on this trip and do all my tricks, it wouldn’t have been possible – it’s not that kind of trip. It’s more of a trip to experience a different culture, along with BMX, riding new spots and showing all the fun of it in the videos."
"There’s still a lot of unanswered questions, a lot of ifs, buts and maybes around the Olympics itself"
– How’s the Olympic stuff going? Is it pretty full on, like a full time job?
“Yep. It totally is like a full time job, I don’t think I could work and do this, not even part time. It’s the mindset you have to have. I’ve not been forced to do anything but we’ve been given the best advice in the world from British Cycling. They’re such a fantastic organisation, so I’ve kind of done my best to take on board the advice from nutritionists, physios, fitness coaches… You’ve got to focus on everything, what you’re eating, when you’re eating, how much exercise you’re doing, if you want to do it properly you can’t slack on that stuff. I’ve been trying to take it seriously. Not to the point it takes the fun out of BMX or puts too much pressure on myself, but I’ve definitely felt a difference with my own body from the way I’ve taken it."
– It must be a whole different world that the vast majority of BMX riders have no connection to. I’d like to find out what it’s like – everyone’s wondering! When BMX Freestyle Park was announced for the Olympics there were loads of different reactions, but seeing you and the other Team GB guys talk about it, it seems a bit more real and a bit more normal. You can figure it out more easily when there’s a personality talking about the facts.
“I think there’s still a lot of unanswered questions, a lot of ifs, buts and maybes around the Olympics itself, everything ranging from what the course will be like to the judging system. People have still got to qualify for the Olympics, so it’s all as new to us as it’s new to everyone else, we’re just like, learning on the job.
I’m just trying to do everything I can to be sure that I’ve done myself justice. I don’t want to look back in two years and think, 'Man, we didn’t make it, I wish I’d done something differently...' Eaten better or gone to the gym instead of watching TV, or you know, not done too much like not rested that day and then hurt myself. It's about making the most of the opportunity – I guess I’m doing the same with a trip like this."