THE ULTIMATE BUCKET LIST DAY: RIDING WITH GRAHAM JARVIS

A DAY WITH THE KING OF HARD ENDURO

By Nick Claire

Nick Claire works for one of our magazines- Dirt Wheels. He's a hugely talented rider, has 
both trials and off-road in his background and had the good fortune to spend the day with 
Graham Jarvis riding and exploring in the high desert.
After the initial meeting with Jarvis my nerves seemed to go away, mainly because he seemed to genuinely be having a good time. it was surreal sitting next to a guy that has been such an inspiration for me.

 

   Graham Jarvis is in town and wants somebody to show him the hard stuff,” my friend said. When he asked if I was in, I was sort of in shock. I told him how rare this opportunity was and that I was most definitely ‘in’. Plans became reality as we watched Jarvis pull up and tell us he was “raring to go ride” in his English accent.

Graham demonstrating his drop off a vertical wall technique as we all just sat there thoroughly entertained. Putting on a show seemed to be nothing new for him.

 

    He’s been doing some clinics in the So Cal area and reportedly just wanted to go explore and do some free riding. Jawbone Canyon was the destination and somehow, my friend thought I knew that area better than I did,  but I wasn’t going to miss this!

   The next thing I know, Graham is walking over to introduce himself and asking if we could bring him to the gnarly stuff. My friend pointed to me and said, “He knows some stuff we can try.” At that point I was sick with nerves.  I didn’t want Jarvis to be bored.

 

Graham loved to dink in the ugliest terrain we could find. He’d recap and give to pointers to the humans in the group.

 

   It turned out to be one of the greatest days of my life. We were with a small group at the start, and it ended up being Graham, myself, and one other guy crazy enough to follow him into uncharted ravines, crevices and canyons. Anyone who knows the Jawbone area knows you don’t just go down into a ravine, because it could be dangerous, mated the real possibility of having to walk out and leave your dirt bike. People have literally had their bikes helicoptered out.

PLANS WENT OUT THE WINDOW

   Jawbone Canyon includes a unique group of rocky peaks with massive ravines and waterfalls. The thought of going down into one of them doesn’t even tempt most people. Jarvis saw the ravines and started smiling. In fact, before most of the group made it up the first hill climb, Graham just gunned it down a massive hill into one of the gnarly ravines. Without thinking twice, I just took off and tried to follow. How often do you get that kind of opportunity?

   We ended up doing about six untouched, and very nasty ravines. Jarvis would often say something witty like, “proceed with caution”, “uncharted territory”, or “We’re in the shit now, aren’t we?” Usually followed by a laugh. He always found a way out for us, but it was a struggle in some cases. He was right there helping us pull and sometimes lift the whole bike up rocky waterfall ledges. These are the scenarios hard enduro athletes live for and are indescribably glorious when successfully executed.

 

Jarvis would often set up with his feet on the pegs to maintain pressure on the rear wheel and get as much rolling speed as possible before launching up rock faces like this.

ENDLESS LEARNING WHEN YOU’RE AROUND JARVIS

   Jarvis is 47 years old, it was eye-opening to see his passion for just having fun and riding dirt bikes. Being able to hear his bike and see his body movements in person was something I didn’t take for granted for a second. His level of throttle and clutch control is stunning, but at the same time inspiring. I felt like I learned through osmosis.

   Jarvis seemed to be smiling all day and just kept coming up with different lines to try, constantly turning his head to look for another untouched ravine. With no feeling of reluctance, he just kept saying, “Let’s have a look at this one.” Nearing the end of the day he looked back at me and I said “Just one more, right?” He laughed and said he was getting a little tired. I couldn’t tell if he was serious, but I’d like to think he was because it was a brutal day up to that point.

   Seconds later we were in a horrific canyon and it happened to be the sketchiest of the day. I knew that if we could get out we’d be on the sandwash leading back to the parking area. One of our guys ended up in a massive rock gulley and that would prove to be brutal. We had no choice but lift his bike up and over on the side of a crumbly, steep sidehill.  After Graham and I made it to the bottom safely, we had to hike back up the insanely steep hill and  recover the  stranded machine. The hike was about the length of a football field. It took all three of us pushing, pulling, and lifting to get that bike to a point safe enough that we could cautiously walk it down what was basically a waterfall. It was one heck of a scene that I will never forget.

 

If you’re not familiar with technical off-road riding you may not realize that success is based mostly in good technique over just having guts. Graham’s technique is beyond flawless

THE TAKE AWAY

   Maybe the best thing about meeting and riding with Graham was that he brought everyone around him up with honest encouragement and positivity. When we needed advice, he was happy to talk us through sections or techniques. I went from being sickly nervous at his presence, to doing things I didn’t know were possible with my present skills. I couldn’t believe how nice he was and how happy he was to be riding.

   We asked him what he does for training and he simply said, “more of this, really.” And it made a lot of sense. If he made it up something, he would go back down and do it again but try a harder line. It seemed like he never stopped moving.

   Truthfully, it was a surreal feeling riding next to a guy doing amazing things like it was no big deal. He would often fail on a section but that never changed his demeanor. Jarvis gracefully just rolled with whatever happened. It was all just part of the fun for him, and that even temperament was one of my favorite things to take from the day.

Mr. Jarvis is abnormal, loving the challenge of controlling obstacles using trials based throttle and clutch control to easily drop off  Fiat sized boulders.

 

JARVIS SIGNATURE TOURS AND CLINICS

You can get a taste of it though by going to jarvissignaturetours.com and booking a guided tour. He’s constantly flying around the world setting up tours and clinics with just about anyone who has the means to set them up.

 

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