ENDURO Magazine caught up with the Australian multi talented rider Jared Graves (Yeti/Fox) just after his awesome third place at the first round of the Enduro World Series in Punta Ala.
ENDURO: Just begin with the race today, you got 3rd, happy with that?
Very happy yeah, I guess I knew I was capable of getting a good result here, because I’v trained very hard and I was confident with myself that I could do well here. But with it being my first time, with a lot of guys from different disciplines you never know. Yeah I rode really well today and didn’t have any mechanical problems, yeah it was a great day, I’m really happy.
ENDURO: What was your strategy for this weekend?
My strategy was to ride hard, ride pinned, but not take too many risks. Unlike DH where you just gotta go flat out, with Enduro you need to still take some risks, but make sure you don’t have any mechanicals because there’s 20 minutes of racing. Stay smooth, that’s good for me too, my style of riding is to not ride to crazy, just ride 99% you know and save some energy for the pedalling, so I think it worked out really well.
ENDURO: When did you get here?
I arrived here on monday afternoon and we started riding on tuesday.
ENDURO: Have you ridden any Enduros before?
Erm, I did one local Spanish race last year, that had like 30 riders in the whole thing!
Where was it?
I can’t even remember! (laughter) It was just some real small local race and I won it, then there was Crankworx in Whistler, I won the first stage there and then the transfer time was tight and I missed my start for the second stage and my day was just over. I had lost more than one minute, that was followed by a flat on the last stage, so that was just a mess that race! But I knew from that, that I could do well at these so I got some positives from that race, but this is the first ever serious Enduro I’v done and I’v trained hard for it.
ENDURO: What has your off-season training involved in Australia, has it focused on 4X or Enduros?
I haven’t touched a 4X bike since Champerie in 2011, I haven’t been in a gate or done anything like that, this year Enduro is my 100% focus with a little bit of DH to be selected for World Champs. I have honestly never trained before like I have in the last six month, just a lot of road riding, up to 30 hrs a week, my diet, training and sleep, just trying to do everything the best I can. I was really disappointed with my DH results last year and I didn’t want to have another season feeling like that, where I didn’t feel happy with what I was achieving. No more being lazy, cutting corners like last year, it’s all about riding and training, I think you have to if you want to be at the top of your sport these days you know. Today there are so many fast guys here, you can’t be lazy, you have to train hard, cover all your areas and be strong everywhere, that was sort of my goal.
ENDURO: In Australia there is an Enduro magazine isn’t there?
Yeah, it’s funny in my country Enduro is like the marathon XC stuff, it’s a bit funny like that, they are now starting to call this sort of racing Enduro now though. This type of racing is stronger than DH now in Australia. There’s a lot of local series going on, state series and more guys are wanting to do that now than DH. Within ten hours drive from my house there’s three big series going on, in the last twelve months in Australia it’s got huge, everyone’s into it and it’s getting bigger and bigger all the time. It’s bigger and more people want to participate than in DH right now, so it’s great!
ENDURO: We have corporations all over the world with Enduro series, but none in Australia, you think this will change?
It’s really been within the last six months that it’s just got so much bigger in Australia, the DH national series this year had as little as 40 elite riders, whereas three years ago we’d have 150. There’s so many guys wanting to do Enduro now, It’s just so easy to get out and ride your bike, you don’t have to organise people to go and do shuttles.
ENDURO: What did you think about practicing for this race? I mean you had a big advantage if you did the shuttling.
Yeah, I’m really happy with my result today, but I was here by myself with no team support and I only did three or four runs on each stage and I know other guys have done double or triple that amount. That was a little frustrating, knowing other guys were a lot better prepared for race day, that could have been the difference between third and winning today. Not taking anything away from Fabian, but I know he’s been here riding a lot, I think they need to sort that out with the series to make it fair for everyone.
ENDURO: Yes, I mean especially for Curtis coming from the US, who arrived tuesday too.
Yeah, we arrived the same time as him, on tuesday the rain came and we rode everything, only wednesday did we shuttle all day and I did two shuttle runs on friday, that was it, everything else was pedalling up.
ENDURO: What is your preparation for an Enduro race, are you really focused like a DH race or are you more relaxed and chatty with the other guys?
That’s what I’m like always anyway, I don’t like being too serious, when I’m too serious I know I don’t ride my best, I like to joke around a little bit. I think it takes a lot of pressure off all the individual stages too, because there’s four or five stages that you’ve got to be fast over, so it’s not so much pressure in that one run like DH. I think everyone enjoys that more, because it’s a little less pressure, with more chance to make up for mistakes. You don’t have to worry about making little mistakes because everyone will make some little mistakes, you just need to be fast over all and you can make up for mistakes. I think it brings out the more consistent rider you know, I hit a tree in the second to last stage, which cost me some time, but I wasn’t that worried about it because I knew there was a lot more racing to do and other guys will have made mistakes too. It didn’t ruin my day, like it would have in DH, that’s the nice thing about Enduro.
ENDURO: What do you think about the length of the race, was the large loop OK or do you think even the Enduro World Series should be more accessible for the average rider?
I guess it depends, I felt really good all day, that’s why I’v been training hard, to make sure I’m not tired from just getting to the top of the hill, I almost use the climb as a warm up, and then you’re ready to really race hard on the way down. I know when you’re trying to involve amateurs and grow as a sport then they don’t have twenty or thirty hours a week to train to that level of fitness so that racing isn’t as difficult for them. I think maybe with stage 2 being left out was a good thing, I think a lot of guys, if they are just the weekend riders, would have found it really really tough. I think you shouldn’t make it too hard so that it deters people from wanting to participate, because there’s a point when it just becomes torture! Still today was over 5000 feet of climbing, and that’s a lot more that I would normally do in one days training at home, it was still tough.
ENDURO: What is your definition of Enduro?
What I like about the series this year, is that there’s a lot of different events, I do think they just need to make it fair for everyone, so there’s not people with an advantage from knowing the trails before hand. As far as the racing goes I think just a mixture of everything, technical, flat and pedalling and flowing sections. I think today had a fairly good mix of a little more downhillish with the earlier stages, but just something that involves all aspects of what it takes to be a good mountain bike rider, I think that is what Enduro is to me. You don’t need to have one specific strength, you need to be good at everything, so that’s Enduro.
People say Enduro is just racing, but do you think it is a riding way of life?
I’m doing it because it’s racing, and I love racing, but at the same time it’s what makes Enduro so good too, this is the riding that everyone does at home normally. When I was young, just racing DH at 18, 19, 20 years old, this is what I did for training for DH, you know, you just go out for a ride. When I started mountain biking when I was 14 years old, I’d go with my friends, we’d ride to the top of the hill and we’d race each other down, that’s what you do when you start riding, again that’s what’s great about Enduro, everyone can relate to that, everyone can understand what’s going on, that’s what makes it cool.
ENDURO: Like we said about all the different skills you need for Enduro, you are probably one of the most multi-talented riders out there, tell us about your riding background.
I grew up racing BMX when I was young, from when I was 4 years old till I was 12, then I started mountain biking when I was 14 and was racing XC a lot till I was 19. Then I started DH and was still doing that when I got into BMX again and went to the Olympics for that. I did some road racing when I was a junior and raced for some junior national titles, I’v been doing road racing again this summer at home (your winter) I think again with Enduro you need to be a real complete rider, you need to be fit for long distances, but strong, mentally you need to be good. You need to be good on all sorts of terrain, like today was really muddy and slippy in the first couple of stages and then the sun came out and the rest were dry with really good traction the whole way down. There are a lot of different conditions and you just can’t have any weaknesses. That’s what I love too, I get bored just doing the same thing all the time. That’s why I stopped 4X, I was just getting bored with gate starts and sprints, just racing the same guys at the world cups all the time, even though I was winning, I know everyone loves to win, but it got to a point where I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. That’s why I moved to DH and now Enduro, I love different things and challenges. I love road racing too, I never thought i’d say that, but this off season I’v been doing road racing and I love it!
ENDURO: Did you prepare your bike in any specific way for this race?
Normally my bike is very specifically prepared by my mechanic Shaun Hughes, he’s awesome, he’s the best mechanic ever. But this weekend I’m here by myself and after training every day, going out for seven hours up on the mountain, practicing the stages, pedalling to the top, I was just so tired, my bike maintenance hasn’t exactly been that good. My bike was dirty when I started stage 1, my chain was squeeky, oh man, I was just too tired to just do every little thing on my bike, but all the rest of the rounds the team will be there with support for me, so that will be good. I’m pretty specific with how my bike’s set up, but here I need to save every bit of energy after riding and just relax and have a bit of time to myself to get ready for the next day’s riding and not be up till all hours of the night getting my bike perfect.
ENDURO: Did you use any specific tyres for this event?
Something with 4X I was always criticised for was having a tendency for wanting to just run the lightest stuff that I knew was fast, but I knew was risky to use. I got some flat tyres because I used little lightweight fast tyres and that bit me in the backside a few times. So for this I was not going to take any chances, I’m running heavy tyres, my bike’s reasonably heavy, but at least I knew that and it was good for the confidence knowing that it was going to make it to the finish. You know, to finish 1st, first you must finish, that was in the back of my mind, so the componentry on my bike was built strong, built tough, which enabled it to make it all the way.
ENDURO: Finally, at this race we had quite different stages with quite different conditions, what are your preferences for suspension set up for such an event?
I think that’s part of what I like about it too, I went with a set up that would help me with the first 2 stages, knowing that if I didn’t get through the first 2 stages there would be no point carrying on. So I went for a bit of a tougher, heavier set up that might hurt me a little bit in the last 2 stages, but then I was fastest on the last stage. I think set up is very important and really it’s best to think what you need to do to be fast over all the stages and what will get you to the finish, that’s part of the game as well.
Big thanks to Jared for giving us the time and we all wish him the best for the rest of the 2013 season!
Interview & Photos: Robin Schmitt / Jim Buchanan
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