When Glen Charlton combined his two loves of orienteering and mountain bike riding little did he think he would end up in an Australian team so soon.
But that is exactly what has happened for the Lake Macquarie 23-year-old.
Charlton is based in Melbourne for work as an electronics engineer but grew up at Sunshine on Lake Macquarie and still competes for Newcastle Orienteering Club.
And he plans to spend plenty of time in his home town as he prepares for the world mountain bike orienteering championships in Lithuania in August.
“It was something I was aiming for but I didn’t actually think I was going to make the cut this year,” Charlton said.
“I was obviously training hard but I didn’t think I had quite the experience. I had a really good weekend in Ballarat recently, which definitely helped. I performed and got the spot.”
Charlton grew up doing orienteering before taking up mountain biking.
He has been doing cross country mountain bike events in recent years and thought he would give the orienteering version a go as well.
“I done it a couple of times before but wasn’t really that fit on the bike and didn’t enjoy it,” he said.
“Then about a year ago, last January, there was an event in one of the areas where I like to go riding in Melbourne so I thought I’d give it a crack and really enjoyed it, so I’ve chased that now for the last year.
“It’s similar to a mountain bike cross country race; you’re riding up and down but you’re not told where you’re going to go like a normal race. You’re given an orienteering map and you have to navigate your way to each of the control points using that map and the fastest person back wins.”
Charlton has represented NSW as a junior in traditional orienteering but has never competed on the world stage and is looking forward to the challenge.
“It will be a big learning curve and it will be good to gain that experience, especially against the big European teams, they’re very strong and very good at what they do ... hopefully it will be a good experience to go around again next year,” he said.
Charlton is one of three open riders picked in the Australian team.
Plenty of hill training over the next few months in on the agenda as he prepares for the world titles, and Newcastle and Lake Macquarie trails will provide a solid training base.
“From the maps I’ve looked at, where we’re going looks very steep, so I’m going to be doing a lot of hill training,” he said.
“There will be a lot of hill intervals to increase my strength and power up quite short, steep hills as well as longer hills to get that climbing legs ready to go, then a lot of time with map in hand.”