We catch up with Dirt Magazine Issue #21 cover star Rob Jarman to find out what he’s up to now!
Braaaap! Rob Jarman getting moto! Issue #21 Cover from June/July 2000. Photo: Mike Rose.
Dirt: Do you remember that cover shoot with Mike Rose?
Rob Jarman: Yeah, it was on a bit of waste land thirty seconds from my parents house. It was an old take off for a step up jump that myself and the Whitfield’s made when I was about 16.
Mikey (Rose) used to ring me up and say “dig a big jump and I’ll come and shoot it!”
This time around he wanted a hip jump so he could get a shot of a whip.
So we figured that the same lip would work if we hooked off it and landed in the bomb hole to the right hand side. It took me quite a few goes to get it sweet, lots of funny crashes.
How long did it take before he was happy he’d got the shot?
I seem to remember it taking all day to get the right shot. I kept trying too hard and crashed my brains out. Some of the jumps were so whipped it felt like I was upside down (obviously not!). Donny (Neil Donoghue) was up with Mikey and he was just laughing at me rolling around all day. Eventually I nailed it and it felt awesome. You just knew when it was sweet as soon as you left the lip. It wasn’t easy to get right.
Have you still got a copy of that issue?
Yeah the cover is in a frame in my office. I see it everyday when I’m home and it reminds me of the good old days when bikes were all that mattered.
Rob in Slovenia.
Happy memories from those early days?
Yeah many happy memories. I wasn’t a successful racer as todays standards go. Probably more recognised for crashing hard or doing pointless jumps. It wasn’t all about racing though. It was an amazing scene back then. I grew up with the sport when it was developing fast. I travelled the world and made life long best mates. It was only for a small part of my life but its my core and has turned me into the person I am today.
My best memories are from the ‘99 World Champs in Sweden. I shared a log cabin with Bullhead (Dave Wardell), Paul Garrett, Steve Peat and Rob Warner. We got regular dead legs from the big guys most night especially after Jonny Cheetham did a crap in an ashtray and put it in Warner’s light shade in his room. It stunk!
I came back to the cabin one night and my folks had arrived to watch the race. My mum was making Shaun Palmer a cup of tea. “Do you take sugar Mr Palmer?” He was my hero!
Why did you stop racing?
It was multiple reasons really. One of my best mates had been killed in a car crash, my bike weighed more than a builders skip and I had just came back from 3 months racing in NZ with a blood infection and caught a virus from over training. I was blown!
I was only 20, I was making some money but it was time to make or break. My first year of World cups didn’t go so well. However in my second year I started to get some good places but I started to take it too seriously and the flame blew out.
I remember loading the van before a national at Hopton, unloading it, then getting into bed. I didn’t ride a bike for another year after that day. I was done.
What are you up to these days then?
I still ride. A few years after I stopped racing I got back into riding again and started working with the Halfords team and doing promo work and features with other bike mags. It was great fun, no pressure and it helped me get established again and make contacts with the likes of Berghaus, who I still work with today.
Helen Mortimer and Will Longden also pulled me back into line and got me some work helping out with team GB at the DH Worlds and Euros. I loved it! Back travelling around with some of my old mates again.
Rob in stunt double mode. Capt America, X-Men and Spooks.
What’s all this about you being a stuntman? What’s it like being hit by a car?!
Yeah that’s me now! Getting hit by a car hurts, there’s not much of a technique. You just try and put on as many pads as you can get away with, wait for your action and jump and roll. It’s scary! Even scarier being the driver!
I’ve been doing it for about five years. After being paid to travel the world with your mates and race bikes it’s very hard to just stop and get a real job. It took me a while to figure out how the hell I was going to make a living. I tried the Royal Marines but I wasn’t going to be the grey man they required. I was too used to trying to win stuff.
I did a shoot for MBUK where I was set on fire and hit a big kicker into a lake on my bike. I loved the buzz! From there I made a contact with a stunt lady called Abbi Collins (Bridget Jones double) and she helped me along the way.
Rob looking a bit broken!
It’s a funny world, especially on the big films. Sometimes you are bored out of your mind for weeks waiting to do nothing and other times you are crapping your pants knowing you’re about to get fucked up. Every job is different, but when they start counting you in and calling ‘action’ the old world cup start gate bleeps come back. My racing experience has really helped me keep my cool when I’ve been shitting myself. When you are doubling the lead actor on a million dollar a day movie there’s a lot of pressure to deal with.
Fancy giving these enduros a go then?
Yeah I do. I’ve raced the Mega avalanche a couple of times and really enjoyed it. I am now 31 so this year I decided to have a little go at racing DH again in the Masters, very kindly supported by Hope factory racing. But to be honest I’m pretty crap! Something is missing and I find it quite depressing racing by myself. I like chasing and riding with other people! I did the No Fuss 6 hour DH at Fort Bill this year. What a great days riding! So yeah, maybe some enduros in 2013.
I’ve recently got into ultra marathon racing. Its painfull, slow and very low key but I love it! Theres something weird about running over the Yorkshire moors in the middle of the night with a head torch on. It’s a real challenge!
Do you still keep an eye on the downhill race scene, World Cups, Nationals etc?
I like to keep an eye on it. I don’t watch it on telly much but I try and find out how well the likes of Marc Beaumont and Peaty are doing. Theses boys are different kinds of athletes to when I was racing. Hats off to them!
Sometimes I wonder what might have been if I had continued racing. I know deep down I probably would not have made it to the top, but I would have had a good time trying.
As Palmer once said “You can do anything you want, its just depends on how much you want it!” I obviously didn’t want it enough.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I would just like to say a special thanks to my parents for supporting me financially and mentally throughout my racing and my career. My girlfriend Bex for fixing me up every time I come home broken from work. Woody and everyone at Hope for sorting me out with bikes and kit. Dave Evans for being my pimp and getting me some awesome biking jobs. Berghaus for keeping me warm and dry and opening up many dors for me. Mojo for my suspension. The Whitfileds for getting me back into racing and all my friends that have helped me along the way.
Here’s what photographer Mike Rose remember’s about the cover shoot:
I’m not quite sure where to start with Rob Jarman. As a photographer I was always searching out riders that looked good on a bike, someone who had natural style, flow and the ability to do things that you asked of them. Being a fast rider doesn’t always mean that you look good on a bike, but Rob was lucky in that he had both…he was as quick as you like and super stylish too. I’d ask him to do stuff and he’d pretty much always give it a go.
Whips are as common as muck these days, but back in 2000 (12 years ago now!) being able to get a big, heavy downhill bike into any kind of interesting shape was almost impossible. A tweak or a bit of a table–top was about it, but I knew that Rob would be able to do it.
It was down on a scrappy bit of land, next to road, kind of a mini training ground. He used to ride his MX and MTB bike around there. It did take us quite a bit of time to get this shot. Rob just kept going at it, doing the same jump again and again. I’m pretty sure that he had to have a run up down the main road then cut across the lay by and up the take off. He bailed quite a lot of them, but that really didn’t matter.
I was kind of new to using off–camera flashes with radio slaves, but it was all good. You have to remember that this was the time before digital cameras. This was shot using a Nikon F100 on an 80–200mm lens, and looking at the colour saturation I would say that it was Fuji Velvia film. That was the ‘King of films’ but at just 50 ISO rating it was a nightmare to use (this was most probably pushed to 100 ISO), especially in a crappy grey British winter’s day. And because it was film we didn’t know if we got the shot. I would only find that out days later after it had been processed if it had worked…luckily for both of us it had.
It was good times back then. Everything was new, the scene was growing and changing, the Jarman family always looked after their guests and Rob was a great rider to photograph. I also like the fact that on the final cover Nige Page’s (now CRC team manager) mug is on there!