Jens Voigt is a cycling legend.
A multi-grand tour stage winner, hour record holder, one-day classic and stage race winner, Jens is arguably one of the most entertaining riders of a generation*.
His retirement in 2014 hasn't slowed him down and throughout each year he dedicates time to help fundraise for charities like the Epilepsy Society and the MND Association. These were just the two nominated for this year's "Shut Up Legs" ride in the New Forest and we jumped at the opportunity to also get involved in what was a fantastic day out.
Shutt Customer Care & Sales staffer, James Baggott was our man on the ground - enjoy his photos and write up!
There aren’t many riders capable of causing a dent in the side of a mountain with a crash, dusting themselves back off again to find their bike unrideable and then grabbing a child sized bike from a spectator AND then finish the stage inside the time limit.
That man is Jens Voigt.
The now annual “Shut Up Legs Ride” is organised by Stuart Grace in order to help raise money and awareness for the Epilepsy Foundation as well as various other charities over the last 9 years. It’s a small and friendly ride around the beautiful New Forest, ably supported by friends and family of Stuart, local cycling clubs and other well known cycling brands and celebrities.
I had the honour and pleasure of staying with Stuart and Jens in a chalet and got to see all the hard work that goes into raising money for such a good cause - I’m not entirely sure Stuart actually sleeps in the months leading up to the event!
We had run a social media competition for one or two of our fans to take part in the event, and Stuart kindly offered up the opportunity for our competition winner to stay in the chalet with us, as well as meet and chat with Jens over a beer in the evening before the ride.
The following morning saw a hearty breakfast and chat about all things cycling with Jens before heading over to the Rider HQ for briefing. A small group of riders gathered to meet Jens and Stuart and talk about which famous “Jensie” moment sticks in the mind the most! Stuart has always kept this event to limited rider numbers so that everyone gets a genuine chance to enjoy a chat, coffee, and ride with Jens (and any other cycling celebrities that have been known to pop up over the years).
Each group of 10 riders was separated by 5/10 minutes with the idea being that Jens and Stuart would head off first and then drop back every few miles to the next group on the road in order to spend time with everyone
The New Forest really is a wonderful place to ride a bike. The roads are lovely, the surroundings and views are sweeping and open or intense and forested. Small hamlets, welcoming pubs dot the landscape and there’s plenty of wildlife (mainly of the hooved variety). The New Forest ponies do tend to own the road... maximum care and respect is needed as you pass! The weather was fantastic with warm sunshine and a high cloud giving a wonderful autumnal light over the forests and open grasslands.
During the ride I was able to ask Jens a couple of the questions that had been posted on Facebook.
One person had asked if there was any food that Jens would NEVER touch again after years of being a pro. The answer was pretty clear... energy and protein bars (we got the feeling he wasn’t keen at all!).
Another had pondered what Jens might design as a one day Classic. We asked but Jens' response took a different turn as he described how Paris-Roubaix is often seen as a career defining moment for riders, yet for him the Hell of the North never had that allure. He did add that If he could ride any Classic again he would go for Liege-Bastogne-Liege (perhaps not surprising given the attritional nature of a 250+km race across Belgium!).
The day closed with all the groups assembling back at the Rider HQ. Stuart and Jens then entertained everyone with a Q&A and a general social time that offered the opportunity to have a one-to-one talk, autograph and selfie opportunity with the man himself. The Charity auction and donations were great to see and it’s clear that Stuart has an amazing network of companies, clubs and individuals who give up their time, offer up amazing gifts and auction items, as well as generous sponsorship of the event to keep it ticking over every year.
It is the 10th Anniversary of the ride next year and we all hope we can make it happen again!
Follow Stuart and the Shut Up Legs ride
And most importantly - PLEASE DONATE HERE
*Unfortunately Jens can't go online because he keeps dropping his Internet connection... #JensVoigtFacts