This week I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Shut Up Legs himself when Jens Voigt payed a visit to one of our Trek stores in NJ. The German rider who recently retired from the pro peloton was charming, charismatic and eager to share stories well into the evening. Amid the humor (he had the crowd really rolling at times) were some solid life lessons we can all benefit from. A good journalist would have recorded quotes, but I was laughing too hard to whip out my phone. So here, by way of memory, is the wisdom of Jensie.
1. Never forget where you came from and who helped you get there.
Jens clearly has a strong partnership with his wife (like I said, he’s charming) who held down the fort that contains their six kids and an overeager dog while he travelled the world. Clearly Jens made the most of every experience and valued the people who believed in and took a chance on him over the years. He also hammered home the point that it’s okay to let others help you reach your goals.
2. Believe in yourself no matter what.
Jens had some pretty horrific crashes in his career. After he face planted on a decent in the Tour, one European media outlet announced that his chances of surviving through the night were slim. But he persevered, focusing on coming back even stronger. He’s a huge believer that we’re in control of our destiny. Dream big and make it happen.
3. There are no shortcuts in the pursuit of greatness.
One of the reasons he decided to retire was because of the constant training. He knew to be good, especially as an older rider with less high end power, he had to put in the miles and the grueling top end work that kept him competitive. He made others suffer on his wheel for years, but he wasn’t eager to suffer like he used to. He followed his intuition and, at 43, knew it was time to step away.
Jens is an awesome storyteller. Here are a few other topics that came up:
If Jens had chosen a second career, it would have been traveling and doing nature videos for National Geographic. Imagine Jens outsprinting a bear! Speaking of animals, he loves meat and his favorite food is the goose served on Christmas. He loves food and is happy to be retired and off of constantly eating healthy food. He favors the United States for having wide roads, but enjoys the challenge of the cobbles of Europe. And one image that will forever be in my mind as I watch Grand Tours is the description he gave of the “thunk, thunk, thunk” of team car tires running over the feet of the fans who line the road too closely. Yowch!