He’s showing no signs of slowing down, or backing off, and while he might be polite and your typical gawky looking Canuck off the course, but when the helmet is on the fierce competitor comes out; Graffunder is the last person to let himself be pushed around. Aboard his Husqvarana, Graffunder puts his skill and tenacity to good use racing the AMA Endurocross series, and as stated above, so far this year has earned himself X Games Bronze (a 3rd place finish in the series), a 5th in Sacramento and a 7th in the season opener in Las Vegas.
It’s a long series, though, with events stretched over until November when the GEICO AMA EnduroX comes back to Las Vegas for the big finale.
Graff took some time out of his extremely busy schedule to talk with IMX about the X Games, racing and being Canadian.
IMX: So, first off congratulations; that was an amazing push for the bronze. I think between you and Chantelle you proved that Canadians can compete at Enduro X. Good job!
CG: Yeah, thanks. *laughs* It was a pretty good way to celebrate Canada Day. It was pretty much the highlight of my career so far.
IMX: What do you think it means for the sport of endurocross, and enduro/off road type riding in general, that something as big as the X Games has signed on as a supporter?
CG: Oh, it’s huge! It makes a huge difference. I read somewhere that the X Games are one of the most widely watched, widely followed sporting events on television, they’re up there with the Olympics and World Cup, so to be able to tap into that kind of audience is huge. I mean, let’s be realistic, enduro racing and off road isn’t nearly that big. Being part of the X Games allows people who might never tune into an EnduroX to get to see what we do. As for from a rider’s perspective, it’s pretty amazing to get to ride in front of that kind of audience, to show off what we can do.
IMX: Did you prepare any differently for X Games than a typical endurocross?
CG: Naw, not really. I mean, I prepared for it about the same as I prepare for any event.
IMX: And how do you prepare?
CG: Well, the week before I make sure that I keep hydrated. It’s really intense and you end up losing a lot of moisture in a short period of time. And, you know, it’s California, so even inside it’s pretty warm under the lights. *laughs* I also have an eating schedule so that I’m not eating too close to the race, but close enough that I have lots of energy.
IMX: You’ve participated in a lot of different off road and enduro events, how do they compare to the intensity of EnduroX?
CG: Well that’s just it, isn’t it? It’s really intense. I’ve done some other styles of racing, but the EnduroX is pretty intense. It takes the short, condensed format of Supercross or Arenacross and then adds in the typical hard elements of an enduro making for a super difficult event.
IMX: Taddy (Blazusiak), Graham (Jarvis), Destry (Abbott) and Geoff (Aaron) are all heavy favourites in the series, or in the case of Jarvis, ripping up the world of Extreme Enduro. Be honest, how cool was it to beat them?
CG: Well, some of these guys I’ve raced before, and I’ve managed to beat all of them except Taddy, I think. I might have beaten him at some point, but I can’t be sure. But, for example, take Graham Jarvis; he’s an incredibly talented rider, no doubt, but EnduroX isn’t his thing. I race it all the time. This is what I do. But to beat a lot of guys who have finished in front of me this year was really cool.
IMX: What did it mean to you, as a kid from BC, to finish in front of AMA and World Champion calibre riders?
CG: It was pretty awesome. I mean, at the half way point when Taddy was behind me he let me know. He was revving and trying to get around me, but catching me is one thing and getting by was something completely different. I mean, it was the same thing with me and Cody (Webb); knowing he was in front of me all I could think about was trying to get around him, how could I get around him?
IMX: Do you have any advice for kids back home who are watching your career and wanting to follow in your ruts, so to speak?
CG: *laugh* Well, don’t give up. It doesn’t come easy, that’s for sure. I just say keep doing it. Keep training, but most importantly train with a purpose. It’s fine to go out and ride for fun, but to just go out and ride with no real direction... It just doesn’t cut it if you want to get somewhere, like to the Pro level.
IMX: Your finishes have been improving since Las Vegas; you’ve got a 7th, a 5th and now a 3rd. You keep at this rate and you’ll be winning the next round.
CG: *laughs* I’m certainly going to try! *laughs* I’ve been working really hard, and training and working towards it. It’d be nice, that’s for sure!
IMX: Well, when it finally happens, we’ll be sure to let all your Canadian fans know. Sponsor List, just for the record?
CG: Husqvarna, FMF, Dunlip Tires, Troy lee Designs, Sidi boots, Stillwell Performance, Warp 9, Dirt Tricks, Rekluse, X Brand Goggles, AME grips, Silkolene, Enduro Engineering, Fasst, Accelerade, GPR, DT1, TM Designs, SuperB Batteries and Trek
IMX: Other than your sponsors, who would you like to thank?
CG: Well, my girlfriend Christy and my good friend Robbie Goolsby. He came down and helped me work on my bike and acted as a mechanic for me.
IMX: Thank you very much for your time, Cory.
CG: Not a problem.