Graham Jarvis is getting ready to race at Hell's Gate, talks about racing the King of the Motos and The Tough One.
It might only be the mid February but for Husaberg Extreme Team rider Graham Jarvis 2013 has started with a bang. From topping The Tough One to jetting to the States for the King Of The Motos event in California, and with training in between, Jarvis’ feet have barely touched the ground. This weekend sees him head to Italy where he hopes to become Hell’s Gate’s most successful competitor ever. Here Graham gives his thoughts on the season so far…
This weekend sees you head to Hell’s Gate, for the 10th running of the event. How are you feeling ahead of what’s sure to be a tough race?
Graham: “I’m feeling good. My bike fitness is really good and the most important thing is I know what to expect there. It’s going to be a big event as it’s the 10th anniversary, and if I can win I’ll have more wins – three – than any other rider. That would be great but it’s always a tough race so you can never expect too much.”
You’re the most experienced competitor in the event. What have you learned over the years?
Graham: That anything can happen, and that it’s a tough old race. I had some mixed results for a few years, but things have gone well lately. Apart from winning the thing that sticks in my mind the most was the year I was leading when my lights went out with 10 minutes to go. Dougie Lampkin passed me on the last hill – Hell’s Peak. Oh, and instead of winning a brand new bike I got a man bag! That taught me that it’s not over until you get to the top of the very last hill.”
Hell’s Gate is a two-part race. Do you have any plan heading into this year’s event?
Graham: “I have my routine to prepare for events, which is important. But I guess like all races just being prepared is the most important thing. Knowing how much pain you’re going to experience helps you get your head ready. Obviously you need to qualify, but you also need to save energy for the main race. A front row start is important, but the main thing is not getting into a situation where you have to push your bike. It uses so much energy. There’s going to be some very strong competition this year so I’ll just have to ride as hard and smart as I can.”
You’ve raced two very different events so far this year – The Tough One and King Of The Motos. Did either of those prepare you for Hell’s Gate?
Graham: “Being in competition is always a good thing, it keeps you sharp and in tune with your bike. Neither event is really like Hell’s Gate but I’d say that the conditions in Italy can, in places, be a little like at The Tough One.”
Winning The Tough One must have given your confidence a real early season boost?
Graham: “Definitely, it certainly wasn’t a race I was expecting to win. I struggled with arm pump during the first hour but then found a really good rhythm and enjoyed the rest of the race. Being the first big race of the season there’s always a little added pressure, so to win it, especially in front of my home crowd, was great. It was the first race for the Husaberg Extreme Team, so that made the result even better.”
Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as well for you at the King Of The Motos event, but you still claimed a solid runner-up result there. How was the event?
Graham: “The Tough One and the King Of The Motos couldn’t be any different. One’s run in a small quarry in England and the other takes place in the desert in California. Last year I didn’t know what to expect at the Kings Of The Moto and was a bit taken back by the speed of some of the faster section of the course. Some are 10 or 15 minutes long and flat out along rough and whooped out sandy tracks. The rocky sections of the course were where I felt most comfortable, and to win the first running of the event was great. This year I felt like I could have won. I was leading when I had a problem with my mousse. It was disappointing not to win but second is still a great result. I felt that I rode better in many places this year. Disappointment is something you learn to accept and deal with as a racer. It wasn’t my first and won’t be my last.”
Finally, it is being reported that there’s snow falling at Hell’s Gate, is that likely to make things even harder than normal?
Graham: “It’s hard to say really. It’s the ice that’s the biggest problem there. Maybe if there’s snow the ice won’t be a problem. One of the biggest challenges is riding in the dark, and not damaging your lights so that they work well when you need them. When it’s getting dark and you’re tired it’s easy to make mistakes. One of the most important things at Hell’s Gate is not making mistakes. That’s more important that riding fast…”