For a man who has spent the best part of a decade heading a four–man whip down sub one–minute tracks, his endeavours in last season’s inaugural Enduro World Series (EWS) have been singularly on the lash… big style. It’s the stuff of legend.
DIRT ISSUE 145 – MARCH 2014
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Steve Jones, Sebastian Schieck, Victor Lucas, Sven Martin
Jared Graves is definitely not a man to piss around. Robust application of brain and brawn, carried out quietly without fuss. A couple of moments stand out from last season. Coming from behind in the final stage of the Whistler round of the EWS to overhaul his rival’s seemingly unassailable thirty second leading margin was plain madness, whilst his bronze on his one–fifty–mil, 26 inch, Yeti SB66 hinted that his part–time roller coaster downhill career might just kick off with his adjusted physicality.
All season there was talk that the winner of the first ever EWS would be crowned as ‘the greatest all round rider on the planet’ come the conclusion in Finale. It could be argued that Jared Graves was already that person with success in 4X, BMX (Olympic finalist) and downhill at the highest level.
The following conversation took place over a bottle of whisky on a beach in Finale Ligure (Italy) just after the season had finished.Dirt: 2013, quite an interesting year for you then. A big change in your life everything, World Cup 4X has gone and now you’re the Enduro man. What’s the feeling after this year?
Graves: It’s been really good. Looking back, six months ago I really didn’t have any idea where I was going to be at. I knew I’d trained hard and prepared the best I thought I could, but you don’t really know what to do with training for something new, because you haven’t done it before. So there was a bit of guesswork involved.Must have been quite a buzz when you won a stage at Punta Ala (the first ever round of the EWS back in May ‘13). Your confidence must have just sky rocketed from that.
It did, yes. Punta Ala was huge for me. Just to be at the pointy end and know I’m there. Knowing what I’d done had worked, and then to build on that and learn from it… I really expected this year to be pretty tough, because it was new.It’s all tough isn’t it, at the highest level. You know that. You’ve raced Olympic BMX. You’ve raced World Cup Downhill. You’re the greatest 4X racer ever. You knew it was going to be hard…
Absolutely. Especially with all the guys that have done it for years. I knew it was going to be tough. That’s what I love too, the challenge of just throwing yourself in the deep end and seeing how it goes. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I did everything I felt I could.You like throwing yourself in at the deep end?
Oh for sure. I love the deep end. It’s good.Looking back now and thinking about when you were a 4X racer, how far away is that now for you?
Oh man. Honestly it’s not even on the same page. It’s so different. The training, the skills, the riding, everything. I’ve always thought of myself first and foremost as a mountain biker. That’s a big part of the reason that I stopped 4X, to me it wasn’t mountain biking. I tried to give my ideas to the UCI. I said, ‘This is what we need to do.’ They didn’t listen. It got boring and I wasn’t enjoying it any more. That’s why I stepped away, because it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Even downhill last year, that wasn’t what I wanted to be doing, but at the same time I was lazy with it too. My head wasn’t switched on.You mentioned your involvement with the UCI, what are your feelings on the organisers of Enduro? There’s a bit of a niggle isn’t there?
Oh yes. But that’s part of the learning curve.Do you think they were maybe a bit heavy handed on occasions? Could they have just given warnings (there were a few controversies in the EWS last year between the riders and the organisers relating to penalties)?
I think you need to be firm with rules if you want people to take notice. This weekend, again, with Nico Lau (penalised by one minute for a missed time control, resulting in Graves leading overall), unfortunate for him, as he was on it, but at the same time everyone knows the rules. If you don’t stick within that then you should be penalised.He wasn’t concentrating, was he?
No. You need to know what you have to do. You need to make sure you do it. You’re a professional athlete. You can’t be lazy.He’ll take the hit and move on, won’t he?
He’s a very good guy. I talked to him today. Of course he’s bummed, but he knows this was his race. He took it on the chin like a champ.So you’re Australian and you come from the Chris Kovarik, Nathan Rennie, era. Let’s talk about that.
I guess, yes, a little bit. I feel like I’m a little younger than them. They were a bit before my time. But now when I come to think about it I’ve had an 11 year career now, yes I am their timeframe I guess.>>