Last year, the Ol’ Crank entered an enduro. Let’s just say he sucked at it – and that was despite the best efforts of one of the world’s fastest enduro riders, Jared Graves.

The Crank interviewed Jared in the lead-up to the event on the north coast of NSW for Outdoor magazine; in light of the champ’s switch to the Specialized team after a decade on Yeti, here’s a transcript of the interview.



Jared Graves – My first enduro race was a small race in La Molina in Spain in 2012. I wasn’t enjoying the DH world cups that season, and was struggling a bit for motivation. We did this enduro on an off weekend, for fun/training. and I just really enjoyed the day a ton. I’ve always been good at riding terrain blind, and then riding blind but racing was way more fun than I ever thought it would be.

It makes you pay so much attention to what you’re doing, and when you hit a section over your head and scare yourself a bit, but get away with it, its the best feeling ever! As long as you commit and try to ride out of all sketchy situations it usually works out. I had a massive grin on my face all weekend, plus you get about 10x more time on your bike than at at DH race…. Didn’t hurt that I won the race either. From that day I knew thats what I wanted to do in the future.



Ol’ Crank -What’s the best piece of set-up advice you can give a rookie enduro rider that won’t cost them anything?

JG – Make sure everything on your bike is working the best it can, long days can be hard on the bike, and if everything isn’t working 100% to begin with it’s only going to make things worse and take the fun out of your day.

OC – What’s the smartest way an enduro rider can spend money on their bike? Budget is $500, they’ve got a $3k dually that’s a year old.

JG – Absolute necessities are….

– Tubeless setup in the wheels, pretty much all tyres and rims these days are made for tubeless setups,  so there’s no excuse. but if your wheels are older you can always do the old ghetto/split tube tubeless (google it if you’re unsure what it is) it works just as well as proper tubeless setups.  I ran it for the entire 2013 race season on non tubeless tyres and non tubeless rims, and had zero flats and zero issues. Tubes are such a bad idea, I have no idea why some people continue to use them over tubeless.

– dropper post; in my opinion the best invention for MTB since disc brakes.

– single ring front setup. Being able to spin a super easy double front chainring up the climbs between stages will save your legs a bit, but that wont do you any good when your chain falls off 5 times every timed stage. Also use a narrow wide chainring and an upper chainguide. Narrow wide chainrings are awesome, but not fool proof. And for the sake of a 50gram upper guide why wouldn’t you just put one on?

– if some money left over, and you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, a full bike service at the LBS to get everything working as it should.

OC – Got one secret pro-level tip that you’re happy to share?

JG – Don’t overlook small details, no matter how minimal they seem. Every little bit of extra speed counts. Make sure your equipment is 100% dialled, no compromise!


OC – So, for my/a reader’s first race, how important is practice?

JG – Well of course its very important, but you need to find your practice vs fatigue balance, which can take a fair few races of trial and error. You need to be fresh on race day, but sometimes you race better if you ride more in practice and know the trail better, rather than being fresh and not knowing where you’re going and have no confidence to push.

On the flip side, you don’t want know all the stages really well from riding it multiple times but be so tired you ride like crap on race day. Its all about the happy medium! Thats where good training comes in, be fitter so you can ride/practice more and not get as tired.

OC – Is strategy and planning a big part of an enduro race day?

JG – Oh it’s massive; for me it’s almost the biggest part, being prepared and knowing how you want to take each stage. There are so many aspects to being prepared that it’s honestly pretty overwhelming.

From studying maps, so you know exactly where you are at all times out of course, to studying Gopro footage after practice runs, always having food/drink, planning your practice time efficiently, knowing the liaison stages (more map study) theres so many things the top guys do that most people wouldn’t even consider.

OC – What’s the biggest mistake I can make (besides crashing) on race day?

JG – Easy! Ninety per cent of people don’t take enough food and drink. always take 50 per cent more than you think you’ll need. Running out of food and energy and being dehydrated is EASILY the best way to completely kill fun times on the bike.

OC – More safety gear or less?

JG – course-dependent/weather-dependent/race format-dependent, it’s very variable.


OC – Enduro is an insanely competitive sport at your level. How did the prep for 2015 go?

JG – I had a big break after Finale, haven’t had one for years, so my training has started much later this season. Even though I won the overall and 2014 was a successful year, the whole XC racing to get as fit as possible thing kind of felt like a massive backfire. I felt like a deisel for the first half of the season and couldnt go hard on short stages, I lost a lot of punch. It took me until mid season to get that back.

So my preparation this year is much more enduro specific, and like I said, starting training a lot later to be 100 per cent just in time for round 1. last year I felt ready to race in February and the first race wasn’t until the end of April; having to try and maintain the best form I could then for 7.5 months became a big mental and physical challenge!

OC – Did your mindset change with that #1 plate on the bike?

JG – I felt more relaxed if anything. In 2014 I had a strong sense of “I must win or I suck” and I don’t ride my best when I feel like that, but when I had the number one plate I felt more relaxed and hopefully that shows in my riding. That’s usually when I ride my best.

That said, when I line up for stage 1 in Rotorua in March, that relaxed feeling could change very quickly!. (OC – this interview was done only days before Jared crashed heavily on a trail near his house in Toowoomba, separating both his shoulders and forcing him out of the first two rounds of 2015).

OC – You were vocal in 2014 about how course design was heading. Will anything change?

JG – We’ll see. I just think they need to emphasize keeping the riding fun, just good fun trails that leave you with a smile no matter how the race went. It was good that they tried some new things last year, but I felt the racing was better and definitely more enjoyable in 2013. 2013 was more of a balance of skill and fitness, more of a test of a true all round rider. 2014 had much more of a skills emphasis and you could get away with not being quite as fit. We raced some stuff that was gnarlier than anything I’ve ridden at any DH world cup.

RELATED: Graves debuts for Specialized – on the road


Enduro ace takes to the tarmac in his first competitive outing for his new team

FORMER Enduro World Championship title-holder Jared Graves has debuted his new Specialized colours for 2016, after his shock switch away from long-time sponsor Yeti.

Graves, from Toowoomba in Queensland, lined up at the 2016 Daniel Bennett memorial criterium on New Year’s Day at Norwell, west of Brisbane, finishing a creditable fifth place outright after missing a breakaway.


Pic: Jared Graves/Adam Weathered (Facebook)


Widely considered to be one of the most broadly talented riders in mountain biking, Graves has long used less orthodox training methods to prepare for his race season, including winning several rounds of the Australian cross country championship in the 2013/14 season.

However, Graves – a former BMX Olympian and 4X world champion – said that the XC preparation had left him feeling “like a diesel” going into his EWS championship winning year.

“Even though I won the overall and 2014 was a successful year, the whole XC racing to get as fit as possible thing kind of felt like a massive backfire,” he told the Ol’ Crank. “I felt like a diesel for the first half of the season and couldn’t go hard on short stages, I lost a lot of punch. It took me until mid season to get that back.”


Graves celebrates Rude’s 2015 EWS title. Pic: Yeti Cycles


A pre-season training crash in 2015 took him out of contention to back up his 2014 EWS crown, which was eventually claimed by former Yeti teammate and protégé Richie Rude.

The Queenslander will line up beside good mate American Curtis Keene in the Specialized squad. “I am pumped to join forces with Specialized, no other brand has the full compliment of top-shelf bikes and gear and the level of commitment to success. The whole team is setup really well with the best support, the best mechanics and the best teammates,” he said in a statement.


Pic: Specialized


The American company recently lost its 2015 World #1 downhiller, Aaron Gwin, after what Gwin called a “difference of opinion” on the champion’s salary expectations.

”I proposed what I believe to be my reasonable market value, and they differed,” Gwin told US site Pinkbike.

There is speculation that the company has allocated a greater marketing spend towards enduro racing – a discipline that more directly links to sales of many of its bike lines – at the expense of the waning downhill category.

Another casualty of the move to Yeti for Graves is the ending of a long association with mechanic Shaun Hughes, who has been with Graves for all of his major titles. Hughes will not make the move to the Specialized team, remaining at Yeti for the 2015 season.

RELATED: how to race enduro with Jared Graves

So it looks like my video on installing a 40t extender cog went over okay, so here’s another how-to on installing a OneUp chainguide, warts and all.

RELATED – how to install a 40t extender cog




I’m kicking off the 2015 Great Cycle Challenge this week, to do my little bit to raise much-needed research funds to fight kids’ cancer.

My aim this year is to cover 500km or more over the next 31 days, and I’m hoping to raise over $1500. I’ll be blogging about it here, too.

So why am I doing this? Most of you know that we had a brush with the big C a few years back, so it’s our way of giving back to an awesome cancer community.

And because cancer is the single biggest killer of children from disease in Australia.

Every week, 12 Aussie families get the most frightening, crushing, brutal, awful news they’ll ever hear – that their child has cancer. And three kids die of cancer. Every. Single. Week.

Cancer turns up completely unannounced. It gives you no time to prepare, no time to respond.

And the battle with this godawful disease goes on for months and years at a time.

I should know – we’ve been through it, and we’ll deal with the fall-out for a long time to come.

Without continual research and treatment developments that are always going on in the world on paediatric oncology, our life story would be a lot different.

So that’s why I intend to ride 500km over the next month, in the midst of my normal family and work life.

But I really, really need your help. Please, sponsor me to support my challenge and to help our kids. Don’t worry – I’m kicking the tin, too.

To make a donation, simply view my page by clicking on the link below:

All funds raised will support the Children’s Medical Research Institute to continue its work to develop treatments and find a cure for childhood cancers.

And everything over two bucks is tax-deductible. The national tally already stands at nearly $900,000 before a wheel has been turned, and the Great Cycle Challenge has raised more than $3 million since kicking off in 2013.

Thanks for your support. Keep an eye on the blog, too – I’ll make it entertaining. If I can!


We touched on the notion of the gravel bike in the last issue; in essence, it looks like a road bike with fatter tyres. The differences are more marked than that, of course, but it’s a pretty good summation.

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I’ve been lucky enough to have ridden at Tathra a few times now, and every single time is as good as the first/

It’s so good, in fact, it’s become a replacement for the Mont 24-Hour race for some buddies and I.

We’ve done the Mont for quite a few years now, and some years have been awesome fun. The last couple haven’t been so awesome for one reason and another, though – in fact, the best lap of the race has been the Friday practice, where we’re all riding together.

So last year, we booked a very nice room at the Tathra Beach House, headed to Tathra, and had ourselves a blast.

This year saw just two of front up – but it didn’t matter. Four rides over two and a half days in one of the most beautiful areas on the planet was pure bliss.

Here’s a little vid I put together as I find my way around some new vid editing software. I missed a few shots – guess we’ll have to go back.




When I was a young guy living in Sydney, I was walking through the Bondi Junction mall when I happened upon a guy with a bike. He was offering me $100 if I could ride said bike 10 metres or so, and it would only cost me $5 to try.

Now, I was riding A LOT back then – racing most weekends, riding every afternoon in Centennial Park, doing trials… this seemed like money for jam.

I couldn’t even get one metre. And it cost me $20 – in 1992 or so, mind – to figure this out. See, the bike was built so that when you turned the bars one way, the wheel would go the opposite.

I’ve been riding bikes since I was five years old – but I’ve only ever learned to use one rudimentary set of inputs. Check this video out for an interesting insight into the neural pathways we build for ourselves.

Cheers Bike Rumor for the memory jog!


So I’ve been thinking… maybe I should get back into reviewing mountain bike parts again.

I dunno – might be just my ego talking, but I’ll be buggered if I can find anywhere a source of good quality, objective reviews for modern bike parts. Weights. Comparison. Verifiable analysis. Objectivity. Someone who knows what the hell they’re talking about.

Sure, I’m already doing reviews on stuff for AG Outdoor and for Bike. I’m thinking, though, I’m still buying a lot of stuff, and there’s no better way to ensure that I’m not in it for the freebies, is there?

The main issue is that my dance card is pretty chockers… but hey. You only live once, right?

So if any of the three people who pay even the slightest bit of blind attention are key, let me know what you reckon. I’ll kick off with some pretty pics of a new stem I bought the other day, just to ease back into it.

Oh, and say hello to the new Ol’ Crank office dog, Poppy. She’s cute, sure, but my God she’s annoying.

2015-04-09 16.02.45

So, I’m two weeks into the Great Cycle Challenge. I’m trying to log 1500km over the month of October to help the cause, and I’m kind of not really that close to the halfway mark yet. That’s okay, because some friends are going to help get me over the line.


My kilometres aren’t that important, though. Not tomorrow, at least.

You the old saying that the only way to double your money is to fold it in half? Not tomorrow.
Thanks to the event’s key sponsors Ridley, JacksonTeece and Lahey Constructions, ANY online donation made to ANY rider at ANY time tomorrow will be doubled and added to my personal fundraising total. DOUBLED.

Some of you were kind enough to sponsor the cause last year – if you haven’t already, will you kick the tin again in 2015? 

Click HERE to go straight to my page. All donations over $2 are tax-deductable.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my note. If you want to help raise money for kid’s cancer research, tomorrow is the day.

So, eight days down, and I’ve just gotten up way early to get a brace of work out of the way to go hit the roads again to add to my Great Cycle Challenge tally. It’s not quite as big a number as I’d hoped it’d be at this stage, but I’m not totally unhappy with it.

There have been a few distractions along the way, not least young Max’s NSW State BMX Championships campaign last weekend. For a young bloke who was fighting leukaemia just seven years ago, to look at him last weekend you would never know that he’d been ill even a day in his life.


I had a tiny crash during my second ride – you can check out my routes here – taking a bit of skin off one knee. As I jammed a Band-Aid over the cut, I remember thinking ‘yeah, this will hurt a little when I take it off.’ Then I remembered Max’s central line… as a kid on an intensive regimen of chemotherapy, the docs deemed it necessary to fit Max with a  central vascular access device, or central line, to make it easier to administer chemo and other medications. Essentially, surgeons plumbed a pipeline directly into one of the large veins running out of his heart, via his chest.

While the installation of the line meant that docs didn’t have to tap a catheter into Max every time they needed to give him medication, managing the line itself was a full time job. Not only did the lines need to remain clear and infection-free, but Maxy now had a rather large hole in his chest that needed to be dressed weekly.


Changing the dressing quickly became the most distressing part of the week. Max has never liked Band-Aids; now we were asking him to sit still while we changed a Band-Aid the size of a postcard once a week. He didn’t like it… not one little bit. He screamed and kicked and cried, but we had to keep doing it. We would dilute the adhesive, change the material and distract him every way we knew how – but it always sucked.

In the most twisted of ironies, a new product called Tegaderm became available in the last few months of Max’s treatment, making dressing changing a non-event…

The Challenge has been coming for quite a while, and we all knew that, and we could all prepare our bikes, our bodies and our schedules to suit it. When Max was diagnosed with leukaemia, we barely had time to pack a bag and pick a hospital. Cancer targets us all indiscriminately, whether you’re ready or not. It’s just a matter of one step forward, no matter what comes up.

When you sponsor me, you support vital research into finding cures for kid’s cancers. Pediatric oncology is not supported by the Big Drug companies, so research funding is a mix of charity and (diminishing) government grants. The Great Cycle Challenge has already raised over $2 million in two years, and it can do better than that. Click here to sponsor me. And thanks.