STRATHDALE'S Chris Hamilton is tackling the hills with plenty of gusto as he builds up for his second world mountain bike championships campaign.
The 19-year-old will mark consecutive world titles appearances when he races in the under-23 cross-country final at Hafjell-Lillehammer in Norway.
Hamilton's build-up to the world titles, which are on from September 2-7, includes World Cup rounds in Canada, US and France, as well as the Swiss Cup.
The cycling ace said on Monday he goes into these championships fitter and stronger than a year ago.
"This year there's been more racing and training on the road.
"Being with the Avanti Racing Team for the road, and Torq in mountain bike racing has played a big part in qualifying for the titles.
"Hill-climbing is what I enjoy on the mountains. I have also worked hard on the technical side of racing.
"The first of the World Cup rounds will be at Mont Saint-Anne in Quebec," he said of racing on August 2 and 3.
A week later and he heads to Windham near New York, with the last of his World Cup rounds to be on August 23-24 at Meribel in France.
The build-up to the main event in Norway includes a training camp in Belgium, where Hamilton and team-mates will be joined by another Bendigo star Peta Mullens after her Glasgow Commonwealth Games campaign.
Although there's plenty of time spent on the tracks across One Tree Hill, Hamilton racks up hundreds of hours and kilometres on the road.
"The road tours earlier in the year helped a lot in building up endurance," said Hamilton.
He raced with Avanti in the Battle of the Border and the Tour of Toowoomba.
A highlight was finishing sixth overall in the Tour of Toowoomba, which was won by North Bendigo's Jack Haig.
Hamilton's form on the mountains in the national series, Australian championships and at the World Cup leg in Cairns caught the attention of Australia's selectors.
The young gun was fifth in the under-23s final at the Australian titles and raced to 11th place in the heat and humidity on the Cairns course.
Hamilton first started racing mountain bikes when he was 13.
"The twisting tracks, climbs and fast descents are always exciting, no matter where you race."
When not riding his bike, Hamilton is hard at work at Moroni's Cycles.
His upcoming races will be closely followed by parents :Leanne and Keith and by his sisters Jen and Susan.
Hamilton is coached by Mark Fenner and often joins the Tasr cycling group on early morning training rides.