Rider Perspective: Jared Graves Holds On To EWS Lead

Jul 16, 2014
by Yeti Cycles  
Rider Perspective Header

Three weeks have passed since the last EWS round in Valloire. While we’re still in the Alps, we’re in Italy for Round 4 in La Thuile. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how things were going to go in La Thuile. I’d had a bit of a rough couple of weeks with some kind of sickness straight after Valloire and a week away from training. But the body had just started to feel 100% again for this weekend, and I felt pretty lucky with the timing of it all.

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

La Thuile was another typical Alps location with scenic views for days…the kind you can never get sick of. In contrast to Valloire, we pretty much didn’t see the sun the entire time. Rain was threatening all week and delivered some storms and showers pretty much every day at some point.

Thursday was the first of two practice days, with six stages in total and five different stages (Stages 1 and 4 were the same course). With the average stage time well over 10 minutes, it meant a lot of descending and some fatigue management…for the arms and the legs.

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

The most important stage of the weekend was definitely Stage(s) 1/4. It involved pedalling up to almost 2600m from the top lift, and a descent right down to the town. It was like two totally different landscapes. Up top it was snowing on Thursday, making practice almost impossible and definitely pointless. You couldn’t see any course tape and the ground was covered in snow. And it was absolutely freezing! I did a run or two on the other stages on Thursday to check them out and was having a great time. The courses were a good all around mix of technical, flowing, high speed, slow speed…pretty much anything you could think of was somewhere on the mountain. Something for everyone.

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

On Friday I tried again to get a look at the top of Stage(s) 1/4 and some of the snow had melted. But this time around, the super thick fog was more the issue and I couldn’t see 10 meters in front of me. It was good to get an idea of what the terrain was like, but as far as having any idea of where I was going…well, I would be doing a high level of winging it come the weekend’s racing. Heading up again later to check it out might have been a good plan, but I still had four other stages to learn and it was still positively freezing up there. I didn’t want to make myself sick again just when I was getting on top of everything.

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Day 1:
Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

On to racing, and up for Stage 1. It was much warmer at the very top this time. The snow had all gone and the wind was down, but it was still a bit foggy and misting rain and making the course very greasy and slippery. My run was pretty bad up top and I spent more time looking for where the course was heading rather than focusing on riding fast. The physical nature of the stage and the length meant that if you went out too hard, that you would pay the price down farther. The course went into some very muddy boggy sections where maintaining speed was vital, followed by a short steep fire road climb, before dropping into the last 5 minutes of flowing single track. The course would make you pay the price if you were too tired to pay attention to where you were putting your wheels. All in all, a very tough stage.

It went okay, but “okay” is not good enough when you want to win these races. I had a bit of a crash, which wasn’t ideal. But I was more bummed that I took it too easy and tried to take it too easy and play the safe game like in Valloire. I was still 9th for the stage but I lost a good amount of time to Damien Oton who went fastest. I was pretty annoyed at myself for then having to play catch up all weekend.

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Stage 2 was just plain good fun. It started with a solid one-hour climb to the top followed by nothing but fun corners the whole way down. It wasn’t too physical and not a stage you could win the weekend on, but a stage where you could definitely lose it. There was a lot of steep hillside trail that could see you falling down the side of a very steep embankment if you overcooked a turn. And about 20 minute before we started the rain started up…jus
Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead
t enough to make the fresh cut grass super slick and wet down the roots. It actually made the stage more fun and a fair amount of sideways back wheel time was had. I rode well and much more aggressive than Stage 1, and was second fastest and moved up a little overall. It was a good little confidence boost heading to the final stage for the first day.

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Stage 3 was super fun. The rain had made the top open stuff very slippery and unpredictable, while conditions under the trees remained dry and grippy. I was feeling really good, but it seemed to take me about 5 minutes of the stage to adjust to the grip levels after the rain and learn that the roots were wet but not really slippery. I came in 5th for the stage…a little disappointed, but not too bad. Rene Wildhaber put in a killer stage and won and was leading at the end of the day. I was back in 7th and knew my Valloire safe game plan wasn’t going to work here, and a new game plan had to be formulated for Sunday. I got a good feed in the belly, watched a movie and went to bed ready for a good second day.

Day 2:
My body felt really good today and everything felt nicely opened up from yesterday and I was ready to go for it.

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Stage 4 (same as Stage 1) was a lot wetter and rougher today, and made it even more physical and harder to ride fast. The top rocky open stuff was super slippery and almost impossible to find a good groove. I rode it much better than yesterday, but encountered a small problem at the end of the run when my chain bounced off the 11t rear cog and jammed up between the 11t and the swing arm. It was kind of a freak thing, but it shows just how rough these stages are. I was still much closer to the fastest time than I was yesterday, and only a handful of seconds from top-3 for the stage. I definitely had some speed to pick up on the technical muddy stuff. But with that stage involving most of my weak points, I was content and looking forward to my favorite two stages of the weekend.

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Stage 5 was just fun top to bottom with awesome flow, technical, and some super fast sections. It was classic alpine riding. I was on a good run with everything going spot on; when suddenly in the very last part of the stage some random person was taking a run of their own down the course. I was screaming as loud as I could that I was coming but they stayed right in the middle of the race line. I’m sorry if I was a bit rude to whoever it was if you’re reading this, but when you’re in a race stage of a world series race and you’re stuck behind someone who shouldn’t be on course and they are costing you seconds…well, things got a bit heated. I was 2nd fastest for the stage just behind Martin Maes, and I moved up to 5th overall heading into the final stage.

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Stage 6 was another awesome stage with fun sections the whole way down. There were some good pedaling sections, mud and dry, and just an all around balance of everything. It was a perfect stage for what I think Enduro should be. La Thuile nailed it with this one!

My run went really well. I was being a little cautious to not pick up a mechanical to ruin my weekend, but still pushing 100% where it was safe. I had to fight so hard to get back to 5th overall and I didn’t want to ruin that. I needed to keep the series points ticking over. I ended with a stage win by a good amount of seconds, and was really happy with that. I didn’t manage to make up enough time to jump up in the overall for the weekend, but I was happy to get away from here with 5th. A big Congrats to Damien Oton for the win! He’s another guy who hasn’t put a wheel wrong all year and has been gaining momentum…a well deserved win.

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

So, I’ve been struggling a little to find my groove at some of the races this year. I’m not sure what that’s all about. Maybe it’s a little pressure on myself, but I really don’t get nervous much. I’m feeling better at every race, and I feel like a lot of the stages have played against my real strengths this year while a lot of tricky conditions have been thrown at us. People ask me if I’m disappointed with how some things have gone this year. Actually, I’m really happy with how things have gone the past two races. It’s a constant learning process and it’s been a really rewarding challenge. Sure, it’s been a little frustrating at times, but that’s all part of what makes the good days feel so good! We’re past the halfway point of the season, and I’m on a plane right now with the Enduro World Series points lead and heading back to the USA to get some burritos in me. We now have the three venues I’ve been most looking forward to all year as the last three rounds of the series. I’m as happy as a pig in mud!

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Bike Setup:
Frame: YETI SB66c medium
Forks: FOX 36 Float 2015, 15mm axle, 160mm, 77psi
Shock: FOX Float X, 175psi
Wheels: DT Swiss 240 straight pull hubs, aerolite spokes, EX471 rims
Tires: Front and Rear Maxxis 2.5 EXO 3C Minion DHF, 26 psi/29 psi, tubeless ready, with Ghetto Split tube tubeless. (People always ask about ghetto tubeless. Even with tubeless ready tires and rims, we still use the split tube an extra buffer of protection to reduce the risk of pinching the tire by the bead on rocks, and the ghetto setup helps seal small cuts around the bead of the tire from pinching.
Cranks: Shimano XTR 170mm w/stages power meter
Brakes: Shimano XTR M987 levers, Saint Calipers, 180mm Freeza Rotors
Derailleur: Shimano XTR Shadow Plus
Shifter: Shimano XTR
Pedals: Shimano XTR Trail
Cassette: Shimano XTR 11-36
Bar/Stem: Renthal Fatbar Lite Carbon, 30mm rise, 740mm/Renthal Apex 60mm
Seatpost: Thomson Elite Dropper, and Thomson seat clamp
Chainguide: E-13 Carbon LG1
Chainring E-13 narrow wide guide ring 36t
Seat: WTB Devo
Headset: Chris King
Grips: ODI TLD

Jared Graves holds on to EWS lead

Text by: Jared Graves
Photos by: Sebastian Schieck

yeticycles.com


34 Comments

  • 30 0
 These write up's by Graves get better and better every week. So detailed, and make me feel like I was at the actual venue. Really great stuff, keep it coming. Go Graves!
  • 12 0
 Graves seems like a smart racer. Knowing when to pin it and when to ride conservatively is a recipe for consistency. I hope he rages that SB66c in the DH World Champs again!
  • 13 2
 The last man on 26" wheels.
GO JARED !
  • 2 1
 Not anymore....... Wink
  • 4 0
 I bought an SB66c back when they were on firesale...

I hope he's champion at the end of all this. I don't have anything against 29 or 27.5. To each his own... but for an entire industry to abandon 26 is lame. Except for Kona, they deserve mad props for offering a 26 in their 2015 lineup. What I do take issue with is the fact that 26" aftermarket parts are already becoming hard to come by. To think I may be forced to buy a 27.5 at some point is BS.

If Graves is champ, it's gonna be serious egg on the face for almost every other company out there. It won't change anything. But it'll smart a bit for everyone who abandoned 26.
  • 2 0
 Really, 26" aftermarket components are getting hard to come by? Where and what parts? 26" is still, and will be for a bit longer, the biggest aftermarket market just based on the ownership stats.

You know what just showed up on store shelves that's 26" and not available in 650b yet? MAXXIS MINION DHF 2.5 EXO SUPERTACKY......OH YEAH!!!, :-) not to mention DHR 2 which has real volume, real width (because that's quite importantWink , and a real good tread. The 2.3s are quite weak in both wheel sizes by comparison
  • 9 1
 I want. That bike.
  • 3 0
 Me too, and want it right now !!!! JAJAJA
  • 1 0
 There are a couple XLs on chainlove.com right now.
  • 1 0
 need M size here :S
  • 3 0
 I want. Those legs.
  • 3 0
 Nice article Graves, now that you are going to Colorado ask your boss to make more yeti sb66C jajajaja Big Grin , whats the minimum bike order so you Yeti guys make a batch ??? I have 5 interesed dudes jajajaj Big Grin
  • 2 0
 Great article Jared. One thing I always notice is that Jared and Yeti seem to have the most variety in the jerseys they wear at the races. That has nothing to do with his mountain biking skills but its just cool that they change up the look. When I think of Jerome I always think of him in his bright yellow jersey.
  • 2 0
 Nothing again Jared at all, as he's a legend. But his comment that the chain jumping off the 11t cog being a freak thing is not exactly 'freak' and is something I encounter way way too often with Shimano derailleurs. It happens repeatedly on all 3 of my bikes. I set the limit screw so it will barely get into the 11t and sure enough, over the next few days it will end up jumping over the 11t and jam in the frame. The limit screw will slowly drill itself into the softer material of the limit stop. Between this, and the extremely annoying problem of snapping derailleur cables every second ride on my DH bike (last one lasted 8 runs down Garbo), and every other week on my trail bike I'm almost ready to try the 'other' brand again. Anyone else getting this problem?
  • 1 0
 yes, happened 2 times on my wife`s new bike. chalked it up to adjustments being out. had to remove chain to free it. keeping an eye on this. thanks
  • 1 0
 no issues with a jumping chain and had to replace one cable this year (on dh bike). on my trance sx the cable ist fine (until now) but i will check it.

limit screw/soft material/how limit screw is made

is an issue in my opinion. will keep an eye on that
  • 5 0
 Keep these coming Jared. Love your details as well as your bike specs
  • 1 0
 there writeups are awesome. not just because of the info and insights they provide on the races, but jared comes across as a really down to earth and thoughtful guy. its great to have a world race format where the top two riders - jared and jerome - seem like really cool people, competitive but not a*sholes about it Smile
  • 3 0
 Unless you're the nimrod, in front of him, riding the course for fun.
  • 1 0
 yeah but he even apologized for getting (justifiably) aggro on him!
  • 4 0
 Just read the bike spec more closely. He's doing these multi-hour climbs on a 36x36...which is not very low. Tough guy.
  • 2 0
 Guetto tubeless is actually far more common than people think ! I'm not surprised Jared is using it. If it is done correctly it can actually be a truly wonderful perk. It's also a nice way of protecting the wheels too !
  • 1 0
 Nice write up as usual.. And extra props for wholeheartedly apologize for the screaming at the race course mate. Its for your and their safety too. If im not mistaken, Fab Barel had the same experience too long ago in the DH, and he have to bail and injured himself.
  • 1 0
 Met Jared Graves last week while riding up at Trestle bike Park. I was at the bike wash and he rolled up to fill up his water bottle. I was pretty stoked to meet him as he has always been one of my favorite riders! I've always heard he was a super nice guy and sure enough, he is. He asked me more questions than I asked him and wanted to know how my day was going and wanted to be sure I was having fun! Awesome!!
  • 1 0
 Jared GRAVES!
If he wins the overall. shame on any company for abandoning the 26" He is repping "old school" style and a small american business. CLASS. How could you not be pulling for him?
  • 1 0
 "my chain bounced off the 11t rear cog and jammed up between the 11t and the swing arm" - Had this happen 3 times on my SB66, think it must have something to do with the way the suspension actuates.
  • 4 1
 Tearing it up on a 2-6....
  • 2 0
 Now everyone will run the exact psi regardless of what brand of suspensions they are running.
  • 1 0
 "People ask me if I’m disappointed with how some things have gone this year."

Cray-talk! He's leading the series -- in the most competitive cycling series going...
  • 1 0
 Love these rider journals. Gives us so much more insight into what goes into the race run.
  • 1 1
 Hey hey, some of those photos are of Richie Rude. You can tell by the mammoth calves!
  • 1 1
 Hurry up everyone and go buy 27.5
  • 1 0
 ghetto tubeless ftw!
  • 1 1
 26" FTW!

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