Title: The Man… The Myth… The Legend…
No, for once I am not talking about our fearless leader, Coach Southam. I’m not even talking about Andy Schleck (who remains my one of my favorite pro-cyclists… though this may be driven largely in part for my dislike of one Alberto Contador).
No. I am talking about a true legend… JENS VOIGT.
So for anyone who follows pro-cycling like their life depends on it (like I manage to do between massive amounts of homework) I really hope you got to see Jens dish out his two favorite meals to the peloton today. Pain and Suffering.
This German born machine has been legendary since I was old enough to really understand the bike races my dad woke me up early to watch over the summer. Jens is one heck of an athlete, an all around animal. Yet he freely admits he is not a climbing specialist, or a time trial specialist… but you can bet your bike he is going to go for every single break. As the man himself once said,
“If you go (with a break) you can either win or not win. If you don’t go for it, you definitely won’t win.”
I think Jens is one of the more inspiring cyclists I know, particularly for me because he is still competing and winning races during my lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, I have ample amounts of reverence for the greats- for Merckx and for Lemond (LeMonster) and countless others- but in my opinion, Jens is special. Not just because no one quite does suffering like Jens does, but because he captures the heart and soul of the sport. His witty commentaries and refreshing attitude keep breathing life into a sport that has had an unfortunately long drag through the mud recently by the media on an international scale. I think the sport needs Jens just as much as Jens needs the sport. And I guess that is part of my motivation for writing this blog, because I think that Jens is a truly inspiring figure- not just for nutty pro-cycling fans, but cyclists at all levels and athletes in general.
Jens reflects the true mentality of an endurance athlete. “You have got to be as insane as the insanity around you”, “Shut up legs, and do what I tell you!” and “Having things organized is for the small-minded. Genius controls chaos.” is just a brief sampling of some of the great Voigt-isms. The man is an endless source of inspiration- which I can personally attest to. On my Road ID, I have one of my favorite Voigt-isms engraved just beneath an emergency contact number (in case I ever get in a serious crash). On multiple occasions, when my own legs have been burning up and I question my own sanity for deciding to race, I have looked down and read those words, and they help me keep my wheels going in the right direction (which tends to be up, given how hilly the league is).
I don’t pretend to be an expert cyclist- because I’m not. Long distance sports are relatively new to me, though I have followed them for years thanks in part to my father’s passion for cycling. So I appreciate Jens Voigt, because if Hallmark had a representative for working yourself so hard that your legs start to actually cry… Jens would be it. Jens is proof that hard work matters, and that it pays off. And I think that this is a message all young cyclists (and athletes in general) don’t hear enough. Yes, you’re going to suffer, but that’s the sport. It’s pain and it’s a love. Even though I will probably never to ride like Jens, I can strive to ride like Jens. And that makes the hills shorter, the winds tamer, and the long rides more amusing. My hope for new riders (and I do still consider myself a pretty new rider) is that they do see the awesome feats of riders like Voigt. It’s inspiring, and it’s one of the reasons I chose to try riding myself.
(Tour of California stage 5 spoiler alert!!!!)
His latest victory:
Sensing the changing crosswinds in stage 5 of the Tour of California, Jens made a move that ultimately unseated the current yellow jersey (leader) of the tour (Tejay Van Garderen now holds that title). He took a handful of big names with him in a break away and split the peloton. Putting the hammer down with about 5 kilometers to go, no one could touch him. He went on to win the stage, something cycling fans all over the world will confirm he deserves, stating that “age is just a number”. He is the oldest man in the race, and bested some of the youngest most skilled sprinters the sport has to offer. I hope he keeps racing for several more years, but whatever he chooses to do, he will certainly have left his mark on the sport.
So with championships at Proctor coming up in one week, I hope that we can all learn a little bit from the King of Pain. Because we can do it, because we are capable of far more than we think we are… we just have to tell our legs to shut up, and go for it.
Until next time,