Marcus Farley catches up with Jared ‘Grubby’ Graves to talk about his hopes for the 2008 season. The Yeti team rider is that rare breed, being world class both in 4X and in Downhill. This season, he also has his sights set firmly on the Olympics in Beijing, where he hopes to bring home a BMX Olympic Gold for Australia.
Bikeradar: How did you get started in racing?
Jared Graves: I got started in BMX at 4. My older brother was racing, so of course I just wanted to do whatever my big bro was doing. I did pretty well at racing as a kid but I was always the smallest of my age class. I raced BMX until I was 12, then got over it. I had started riding MTB for fun by 13, with my brother and some other guys from the neighbourhood, and being the competitive person I am, I was racing by 14.
What tips can you give kids who are desperate to break into racing? Be it, DH, 4X or BMX.
Just ride lots, be patient with it, you won’t become a pro rider overnight, and most important of all is keep it fun!
Can you tell us about your quest to be the BMX Olympic champion.
Yeah it’s a big goal, it’s become more and more important to me as time has gone on. Being an Olympian is a huge honour and being Olympic champion would be something else all together.
Can you tell us about the new purpose built Yeti BMX. How it was developed and tested, and how it compares to other BMX bikes?
The guys at Yeti are awesome and are super supportive of my Olympic aspirations, so building a purpose built bike was the least they thought they could do. It is pretty much a standard race frame, pretty much all bikes are the same, there’s just some slight geometry changes to make me that bit more comfortable on it. Geometry is 100% sorted out now though, I couldn’t be happier with the bike.
The new purpose built Yeti BMX
Built up in all its glory
What are your hopes for the 2008 4X and DH season?
DH will be a bit quiet for me for 2008, with the Olympics for BMX and all, but I really want the World Champion rainbow stripes this year for 4X. It’s my major goal in Mountain Biking. BMX and 4X pretty much go hand in hand, so we’ll see how it goes.
Graves styles it up
Can you tell us about the feedback you give to the Yeti design team to build even better Downhill and 4X bikes?
The best thing about Yeti is that they are truly the only company that 100% listen to their riders for feedback. So whatever we ask for on our bikes becomes a reality. It’s the best setup ever! For example, I wanted my headtube 5mm lower than stock on my 4x bike for 07, and they made that happen no worries at all!
The 303 was a fairly long process, there was about 7 full blown prototypes that I test rode or gave feedback on in the early stages (2004). My feedback was just on the geometry, and basic characteristics of the bike, pretty much just how it felt to ride. From there we got some pre production models that I raced all through the 2005 season, there was 4 totally different frames I was on during a 6 month period. That was just fine tuning a few small things with the ride and geometry again. Then we had production models for 2006., but the frame keeps evolving every year still.
You recently bought a house, and set about building a huge jump park in your back garden, what’s it like rolling out of bed onto your own purpose built jump park?
Having jumps in the backyard is the best thing ever, although its making me a little lazy, coz now that I’m used to jumps in my backyard I just ride them instead of going elsewhere to ride other stuff ha ha!
Yeti has such an amazing race history, what does it feel like pulling on a Yeti team shirt?
I remember seeing a review of a Yeti DH-8 in Dirt magazine in maybe 2002, and even then I thought their bikes were the coolest ever, and that it would be a company that I would love to ride for and represent. Then, when they approached me the following year they left me an offer I couldn’t resist really. There’s such a history behind them, and I’m very proud to now be a part of that history.
What’s your training regime on and off the bike?
For now my training is definitely based around 4X and BMX, which goes hand in hand, but isn’t great for Downhill. For BMX especially, if you’re not training your ring off you wont get anywhere, and I can honestly say I’m training my ring off! 20-25 hours a week is the norm: Sprints, Gym, Conditioning, Skills, all that stuff. I’d do more but rest is just as important as the training.
Relaxing after a day of training
What motivates you to try and win?
Do you have a specific preparation schedule before a race?
Rest, eat good, keep the body awake, so take it easy, but not too easy.
For Downhill, walking the course helps, but you really can’t look at too many lines because tracks change so much through practice, especially at a world cup when you know every guy there has spotted that secret line, and you know it will be blown out in no time. Sometimes the main and most obvious line is the best bet. I suppose every track is different, but remembering the course comes easy for me after a day’s runs, my memory is good like that.
Who do you most admire on the BMX, 4X and DH scenes?
Well, of course, Sam Hill for Downhill, he’s amazing, everyone knows that, so I’m not going to talk him up anymore, ha ha! Kyle Bennett is still my Favourite BMX rider, 3x world champ, the best style, and a nice guy who gives respect to riders as much as he gets it himself. Racing elbow to elbow with him is the best thing ever. And Prokop and Lopes, as much as I hate losing to them, you gotta have respect for them.
How did it feel having a tyre blow out in the 4X at FortWilliam, when you looked like you were really on it to bag that World Champion jersey?
Yeah, Fort William Worlds was painful. I know I’m young, and have plenty of chances yet, but I just want them rainbows! I thought this year was my year. Maybe I was too confident, maybe karma was teaching me a lesson, I don’t know. Maybe I’ve been watching too much “my name is Earl” ha ha!
I know my time will come, I’m 100% confident of that. And when it does, I will milk the rainbows for all they are worth!