Graham Jarvis is the most successful rider to ever compete at the Red Bull Romaniacs. A record-breaking six victories in 10 years is the stuff of legend from the British rider who has learnt what it takes to make that finishers flag ahead of the rest.
Getting plenty of sleep and having a good feed, specifically Ready Brek in the mornings are key to survival at this epic annual event Jarvis has made his own.
Next week Graham is aiming to make it seven wins as the World Enduro Super Series heads to Romania for round four. The 15th edition of Romaniacs this year promises to be a tougher challenge with a stronger field of riders contesting the victory – not that these facts held Graham back from taking the ErzbergRodeo Hare Scramble victory earlier this year.
One of the world’s best Enduro riders, Jarvis consistently rises to the challenges that Red Bull Romaniacs — the world’s toughest Hard Enduro Rallye — brings each year. Over the five-day race, the British rider has shown time and time again that he’s the rider to beat in the Romanian wilderness.
Graham, with an Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble win in your pocket, does that add confidence leading into round four of WESS at Red Bull Romaniacs?
Graham Jarvis: “To an extent it does but both races are world’s apart — Red Bull Romaniacs is such a different animal than the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble. It’s five days of racing including four long days in the mountains. You are alone for so much of it, riding unknown terrain and riding on instinct. At the Iron Giant you can do a lot of preparation for the main race, but in Romania that’s not possible. Of course I know I’m riding well and going there as the 2017 winner means a lot too. I feel like I’m in a good place right now to get my seventh victory.”
Regarded as the world’s toughest Hard Enduro Rallye, how do you prepare for a multi-day race like Red Bull Romaniacs?
“Honestly, it’s very difficult. Everything I’ve done this year helps prepare towards the Red Bull Romaniacs. You need to be fit, injury free and mentally strong. You need a good base level of riding fitness too. That only comes from training and racing. Although round three of WESS at Trèfle Lozérien AMV was not my type of event I could benefit a lot from it. We had three long and physical days on the bike. Each day was unique, so we rode fresh terrain too, covering over 600 kilometres in total. And all of this came just four days after the Erzbergrodeo, which was another three days of hard racing. Factor in the special test walking in France too and I can see that my fitness is good and strong, which will benefit me in Romania.”
The Red Bull Romaniacs prologue is an amazing start to the Hard Enduro Rallye, do you enjoy the spectacle of it?
“I’m a mountains man, so I’m most happiest in the wilderness. I enjoy the prologue but I don’t stress too much about it. I try to aim for a top five result — that’s always a realistic goal for me. But I do love the spectacle of it. There’s always a good atmosphere and so many people come out to watch. It’s impossible not to put on a show for them.”
With five demanding days of racing ahead for round four of WESS, do you apply any race tactics for it?
“The race has evolved so much in the last decade. Each day is becoming more and more of a sprint. In the past you could afford to have a bad section or two but now you must be sharp all of the time. However, at the same time you need to know when to push at 85 or 90 per cent and when 70 per cent will do. I try to have a strong opening day in the mountains, but leave a little in reserve. It helps me judge where everyone else is at. You don’t want to lose much time on day one.”
We’ll see two overnight bivouacs take competitors away from Sibiu this year, what do you think that will add to the race?
“The two overnight bivouacs will definitely add to the ‘Rallye feel’ of the race. It’s good to see the organisers going to the extra effort of doing that. It keeps the race fresh and challenging, even for myself. It also means we will have new tracks to ride with new sections to level the playing field. These off road days could easily become a game changer in the outcome of the race.”
As one of the race’s most experienced riders, what top tips have you learned over the years?
“Sleep and eat! That’s my best advice for anyone doing Red Bull Romaniacs. If you’re tired you can’t function. Make sure to top up on sleep before the race starts, then after the prologue don’t stay up too late either. Each off road day starts at 6.30am, so that means you might be awake from 4.30am and after two days in the mountains that really burns on you. When we finish each day I try to get a two-hour sleep in the afternoon to recover. Eating breakfast at 4.30am is almost impossible, so I bring food I’m familiar with. I have Ready Brek and eat that — it’s like porridge but quick and easy to make and is a slow-burner food, so you stay fuller for longer.”
Finally, it’s 10 years since your first Red Bull Romaniacs victory, is the goal to win in 2018?
“It’s amazing to think that 10 years since my first Red Bull Romaniacs win that I’ll be racing for my seventh victory this year. It’s something I never really expected to happen. I’ve won it with three different manufacturers, on a two-stroke and a four-stroke, and now against two generations of riders. Even though I have accomplished everything I ever wanted to in the race I just love coming back to Romania and riding there. It’s an amazing place and one where I feel my best, which I guess is why I’ve been so successful. A seventh win is the target, but I’m not going to think about that too much yet.”
Photo Credits: Future7Media, Predrag Vuckovic/Mihai Stetcu - Red Bull
Red Bull Romaniacs Fast Facts
189. Bronze class finishers for 2017
86. United Kingdom is the largest nation represented for 2018
32. Graham Jarvis’ 2017 winning time in hours
27. Gold class competitors entered for the 15th edition
20. Track managers preparing the four off road days
12. Wacky obstacles planned for city prologue in Sibiu
6. Wins held by Graham Jarvis, the event’s most successful rider
2. Overnight bivouacs for 2018
Red Bull Romaniacs 2017 Podium
1. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 2. Mario Roman (Sherco) 3. Paul Bolton (KTM)
Red Bull Romaniacs Past Winners
2017: Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna)
2016: Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna)
2015: Jonny Walker (KTM)
2014: Jonny Walker (KTM)
2013: Graham Jarvis (Husaberg)
2012: Graham Jarvis (Husaberg)
2011: Graham Jarvis (Husaberg)
2010: Chris Birch (KTM)
2009: Andreas Lettenbichler (BMW)
2008: Graham Jarvis (Sherco)
2007: Cyril Despres (KTM)
2006: Michel Gau (KTM)
2005: Cyril Despres (KTM)
2004: Cyril Despres (KTM)