The New York native, now living in Marietta, will have a chance to represent his country as a member of a Team USA in the 2014 World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships from Aug. 24 to 31 where he will be celebrating his 39th birthday. The event will be held in Bialystok, Poland, approximately two hours north of Warsaw.
“I’m thrilled,” said Jolles, also a member of the Georgia Orienteering Club. “I never been to Poland or eastern Europe before. That alone is really exciting to me. And to be able to represent the United States in a sport that not many have heard of, it’s an honor.”
Jolles has captained and navigated the Checkpoint Zero racing team since 2008. His accomplishments include winning the GODzone Adventure race in New Zealand this year. He also took place in the 2008 Ultra O-gain and won the Checkpoint Tracker National Adventure Race series.
He said there will be three races taking place in Poland: a 5-mile sprint, a 10-mile mid-distance race and a distance race between 15 and 20 miles. There will also be relay events.
Jolles said he’s not sure how many races he will take part in yet, but when he does, he will be riding and navigating through a network of trails using a map and compass. No GPS is allowed, and it’s up to the team to find all the control points on the trail before its opponents.
Jolles said the trick to having a successful race is not to get lost. But if he does go off course, he was taught to use his compass to determine direction and look for certain trail intersections and familiar landmarks.
He said there are usually seven or eight of them on a short course and 10 to 12 on a longer one.
“It’s a thinking sport instead of a physical sport,” Jolles said. “There really is a puzzle-type aspect of it. Which is the fastest way to ride thought the trails? And how to you get from Point A to Point B more efficiently? That’s why I like it. I like puzzles and problems. That appeals to me.”
Over the last 20 years, Jolles has participated in mountain biking and rides in a lot of cross country races. A former cross country runner and skier at Clarkson University, he had no difficulty building stamina.
Mountain biking turned into adventure racing for Jolles, a combination of mountain biking, paddling, and running and adventure racing could take up to 10 days with little sleep.