What Would Jens Voigt Do?

1 Feb

 

reposting from:  http://bicycling.com/blogs/hardlyserious/2011/06/28/talking-back/

By Jens Voigt

I am always surprised when people come up to me wearing a T-shirt that says, “Shut up legs!” It was just something I said once, long ago, to a journalist who’d asked how I could dig so deep in races. But even today people who see me say, “Come on, Jens. Tell us! You know what we want to hear!”

“Shut up legs,” I say, and they love it. They laugh. They tell me it inspires them.

This is never annoying. It’s flattering, this whole idea that I have somehow become a racer who means something to people. I would say I was a promising but not spectacular racer when I turned professional in 1997. It was two years before I got a really big win, the Criterium International, then two more before I won a stage of the Tour de France and got to wear the yellow jersey for a day. I would win two more Tour stages over the years (and wear yellow for another day in 2005), plus a stage of the Giro d’Italia, and four more titles at the Criterium International–respectable, but certainly not the sort of career that inspires T-shirts.

Somehow, I became known more for the way I race than the races I’ve won. I never imagined that, either. Whenever I got into a long and exhausting breakaway after I’d tried the same tactic just the day before, or when I attacked over and over in a race, or got up after a crash that had ruined my bicycle and finished the race on a loaner so small it made me look like a bear riding a circus bike, I was just always trying to do my job. I was just riding the only way I knew how.

I was just being myself. Maybe that appeals to cycling fans, too. People see what they get with me and they get what they see. I don’t have brilliant earrings. I don’t have tattoos. I don’t have a Porsche or Ferrari in my garage. (And let’s not forget my funny German accent–that helps as well!)

 

 

There is so much crisis in our world (and our sport) that maybe people also see and appreciate the stability in me. You know–Jens is this rock in the ocean. The waves are crashing against him, but he just stands there. Maybe a plain-talking guy who is the same every race and tries hard every chance he gets, maybe that connects, I don’t know.

I think I will never understand fully why so many people seem to like me as a racer, but it is a nice feeling. It is also a great motivation. Okay, I’m not winning 10 races a year or anything, but I am still there to win one or two for myself, and I am still able to help my captains and friends win. There is a lot of satisfaction knowing that a tiny piece of someone’s success is yours, and maybe the way I have been supported by all of you, now some of my success can be yours. And there is satisfaction, too, in pushing back against the hands of time. In many races, at 39, I’m the oldest rider out there.

I don’t know how much longer I will be able to win this fight against the clock. But for however long that is, I will refuse to let myself ride in a comfort zone, as if I have nothing more to prove and I can go ahead and slow down on a difficult descent or, when the race becomes truly difficult, go ahead and ease up because I don’t need to worry about my contract for the next year.

Every time I race, I will race so fiercely my legs cry, and when I can’t do that anymore, that’s when I will know it’s time for myself to shut up and leave.

 

 

And on that note:    Jens Voigt prepares for the Tour de Suisse by reassuring scientists at the Large Hadron Collider that he means no harm.

http://www.jensvoigtfacts.com/

 

 

 

 

http://blog.bikeridr.com/2010/07/the-legend-of-jens/

The Legend of Jens

21 July 2010 —

I challenge you not to love Jens Voigt. This man is made out of chiseled granite and railway spikes. He is truly the stuff of legend.

For the second year in a row a bad crash threatened to take Jens out of the Tour de France.

After a front-tire blow-out, shattering his bike, tearing open his elbow and being covered in road rash at the start of a 25km descent, Jens had some choice words for the Broom Wagon.

From Bicycling.com:

That stage pretty much got off on the wrong foot. For starters, we just went out so hard. We started out climbing up the Peyresourde Pass and everybody came out with their guns smoking.

I came over the top only 20 seconds down on the front group, but about 2 kilometers into the descent my front tire blew and I thought, “Oh God,” and I went down. Just one year after my horrible crash, and there I was tumbling on another mountain descent. And let me tell you, about the only place that feels good right now is my right ankle. The rest of me is all road rash. Plus I’ve got five stitches in my left elbow and then there are some ribs that are not in the right place! I may have to get x-rays, but I hate x-rays (the radiation), and plus, if I’ve got a fractured rib, what can anyone do about it?

The worst thing of all was that I almost got forced out of the Tour for a second year in a row. The problem was that the first team car was behind Andy Schleck, and the second had decided to go up ahead to hand out water bottles at the foot of the next climb. As a result I had no bike, because mine was shattered.

Jens Voigt on his 'junior' bike (note the toe clips ;-)Jens Voigt on his ‘junior’ bike (note the toe clips 😉

So then the broom wagon pulled up and was like, “Do you want to just get in?” And I said, “Oh no, I don’t need YOU!” But there I am with blood spurting out my left elbow and no bike. Finally, the race organizers got me a bike, but it was this little yellow junior bike. It was way too small for me and even had old-fashioned toe-clip pedals. But that is the only way I could get down the mountain, so I had to ride it for like 15-20 kilometers until I finally got to a team car with my bike.

Then, I still had to get up to the grupetto. All I can say is that that desperate times need desperate measures, but I got up there. And once I did it was grupetto all day long.

Needless to say, I had plenty of time to come up with a fitting book of the day. It’s from the Disk World series by Terry Pratchett. In it, the protagonist is Conan the Barbarian, who is a 70-year-old who has just survived everything. At one point he, and his other old warrior friends capture this village, but then they find that they are surrounded by an army of tens of thousands, and his only reaction is, “Oh man, it’s going to take days to kill all these people!” And that’s the way I was today when I was lying on the ground. I just thought, “Oh no, I’m going to Paris this year, I’m going to Paris. There’s just no way you are going to get me out of this race for the second year in a row!”

I wanna be like Jens.

 

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