Vurboffroad phoned up British offroad legend Graham Jarvis to talk us through his last two extreme events, Erzberg and Romaniacs, where he crossed the line first on both occasions... but didn't actually win both...
I'll start with Erzberg. You won, but were disqualified, how did that feel?
Well it's a bit strange; because it's like the third year I've been disqualified for the same reason. So it was a probably a bit easier to accept this one. Last year was the worst because I did all the champagne and the interviews and then twenty minutes after they disqualified me. This year I didn't know I was disqualified when I was riding round, but when I got to the finish I came and saw the organizer shaking his head. So it was a bit unbelievable for it to happen again. I've got to look at the positives, I did get around first and I did get a bit of publicity from the event. But it is still the only event missing from my list of achievements.
So how exactly do you miss a checkpoint at Erzberg, explain that process?
Well it wasn't even a checkpoint this year, it was just a short section of easy track. Basically it was just arrows and they don't even use tape. They set it out the day before, so that people can't see where it goes, I presume, otherwise they'd do it well in advance. They don't tape any corners and this part where I missed was a bit weird. The track just looped down to the left and then there was a turn before a couple of loops, and then came back near to where the turn was. I just went straight on at the corner and picked the track straight back up without doing the loops. For me, if I was an organizer, I'd say to myself that if someone overshoots, then it'd be easy to miss it all, and we should tape it or stick a Marshall there. People get lost all the time and I really don't think they set the track out properly. It shouldn't be a navigation event, it should all be flat out, there shouldn't be any problems like that.
Do you think they should let you know during the race, or is afterwards better?
No, they should let you know, or pull you out of the race. If I got injured and had to miss the event afterwards, then I'd have exerted all that energy for nothing. Romaniacs starts on the following Wednesday so there is the question of recovery as well. It's a bit unfair really, I think they should give you a choice of either carrying on or pulling out.
And then you won Romaniacs by quite some margin; did you feel like you had something to prove?
It didn't really make a difference. I wanted to win regardless, and I try to take each event on it's own and it's not going to make me want to win any more.
Are there a lot of similarities between these events?
No, that's the good thing about this extreme stuff; every event is completely different. So you do have to adapt to the different types of events. At Erzberg you get round it two hours of one day, Romaniacs you're doing four or five hours a day for four days. The Tough One is the only multi-lap one, with 8-10 minute laps and the Hells Gate is an all-day for nearly 10 hours so they are all completely different which is good.
There are a lot of British riders doing well at the moment, do you find that better, or does it not affect you?
Yea, it's really good, it just makes it more enjoyable when there's a load of Brits out. Not all the riders mix on a evening, but with so many Brits there, there's always a bit of banter and always somebody to talk to. Which is part of the reason I love the sport so much. When I was doing World Championships Trials there's so few of us there that I was on my own a bit.
And you've been invited to the X-Games Endurocross, are you going to attend?
Yes definitely! I'm off there this week, which will be fantastic to part of it. It's sort of a different discipline as well, so it's a bit different for me compared with outdoors.
So you have ridden Endurocross before?
I competed in a four-round series before, a few years back. Last year I focused more on outdoors and one of the outdoors events clashed with the indoor one so I never really bothered with the series. But X-Games is an opportunity that you just can't turn down.
And what are your plans after X-Games?
There is a bit of a break, and then October it gets busy again. There are a few events, one in Portugal and Sea to Sky in Turkey. Which aren't quite as prestigious as the Big Five events that everyone is familiar with, but the sport is growing all the time with these new events.
The video that really got Graham Jarvis into the public spotlight, with 744,000 views and counting
Are you competing in the ISDE?
No, things like that, I'd really like to have a go at. I've ridden a couple of world rounds as well and I've enjoyed them, but I've got to do the ones that pay the bills (laughs). The Factory isn't interested in me doing the ISDE or the British rounds. I just do one or two just for me, just to get my speed up and for fun. Obviously going from a trials background, motocross isn't really my forte.
Do you feel the sport is progressing, with all these events popping up and the big sponsorships from Red Bull etc?
Definitely, I think things are just growing and growing. Erzberg is still the biggest one in terms of publicity point of view, but the events are getting more popular and the sport is taking off... I don't really know why (laughs). I think people just like the challenge of getting around one lap, it's always different and people don't know what's ahead. It's a bit of adventure for people to say they've tried. It's the challenge of just seeing how far you can go. It's also cool that the amateurs are mixing with the top boys, which is rare in sport these days, so an amateur rider can rock up alongside the pro riders.
Is there a big difference in the equipment side of things between Pro and Am, like there is in motocross?
Well that's the other good thing about it, because in the extreme stuff, I don't think spending money on your bike makes any difference, the suspension and setup aren't so important. The more extreme stuff, it comes down to the rider skill. Obviously it is going to make a little difference and we do set our bikes but you can go on a standard bike, which I've actually done. When I've gone to Australia or America, I took a standard bike and a couple of bits like suspension, but apart from that, they are just stock bikes. I don't tune them up or anything, so the sport isn't so elitist.
We wish Graham all the best this week at X-Games, and we'll be sure to be putting up all the action here on vurboffroad...