"Why yes, I do believe Bakersfield is a wonderful place to have a Time Trial."
Our Man — Jens Voigt — retired the other day. I say "our man" because if there was a cyclist, in the last couple of years, that was more for the people, I failed to see it. He was "our man" because he spoke our language and not down to us. And he was "our man" because, damnit, this guy was having a good time and we were in on his jokes.
I went digging through some photos to try and find that time he was off the front at the Pro Challenge last year and we all freaked out and screamed at him as he made his way over Rabbit Ears pass - and I did. That was a thrilling time because our man was off the front trying to make things happen in a race that, well, needed a little shot in the arm right about then. But, that's what he is good for right? When you need him — he's there. Check out the photo above, he even looks like Superman. Here you have it...
TOP FOUR JENS VOIGT MOMENTS FROM THE PAST COUPLE YEARS
4. Post Tour of California 2012
I find myself next to him at a bar with a party swirling around us and do the most gentlemanly thing I can think to do. Offer to buy him a drink. He politely declines and comments that "you know, with all these sponsors around it is good to keep things under control." I nod, knowingly - "you mean like that uhhh, Tornado over there?" I point to the drunk stumbling man who is crashing his way straight through four people at the bar. "Yes, exactly." He smiles at this.
It is then that our good friend Moi steps up to the plate with a decidedly different tactic.
"Mr. Voigt, excuse me, I hate to interrupt. It has been my lifelong dream to do a shot with you." And now Jens Voigt's smile has turned into a mischievous grin. He looks directly at me while clapping Moi on the back "It's not every day that you get to make someones dreams come true. Bartender, we need three shots."
We did them and then he told us about how he ate a bee during one of the stages. Apparently it had landed on his lip, stung him and then just sat there on his lip — so he ate it. As you do.
3. Breakaway - Stage Something-Or Other - Pro Cycling Challenge 2013
"He's doing it again!" The shouts are everywhere as we hear that Jens has done it again and escaped from the group. He did it the year before and held off all comers on the Independence Pass stage. This, then, is what you might think of as a big deal. He had won a stage at the Tour of California this year, not letting any snot-nosed little brats take stage wins that they expect to win. You're going to have to work for these.
And work they did.
We were trying to pack up for the day, after the peloton has started to make their way down into Steamboat Springs but the people insisted that we sit and wait and watch. It was the right thing to do. Everyone leaned forward until he was caught in the final meters. But, for those few moments - everyone was captivated - something that had yet to happen at the race.
Seriously, it's like this big Gerben....
2. Anytime Jens Voigt comes for Coffee.
There is nothing better than Jens Voigt coming to the Mobile Cycle Club for coffee. It is almost as if the thing were built just to make coffee for him (it was). At first you hear a little roar in the crowd as the crush pushes forward. Then, standing nearly a head taller (so it seems) than everyone else he steps from the crowd (while simultaneously patting a small child on the head and posing for a photo with someone who's in town from the Ukraine with this express purpose).
Which brings us to...
1. Interbike 2010 When Jens Tells Everyone to HTFU.
I'm not sure why I never used this clip. Possibly because it was just too good and maybe I had already smelled that the water had gone bad. Anyway, at the time I was going around asking everyone for their favorite embrocation. Eddy Merckx has basically just told me and my camera to get fucked (fair enough) and I turned and walked away more than a little dejected.
It was right about this time that I came across Mr. Voigt. His autograph session had yet to begin and he was standing looking bright eyed and bushy tailed near his card table. Well, I'll tell you this, we weren't a few seconds into our conversation when I asked him "is it ok if I film your reponse?" He thought this over for a little too long - making me wait for it before shouting "of course it is absolutely ok." What then followed was pure comic gold. Even he was having fun with me and could barely contain himself - watch his upper lip quiver with excitement as he tries not to laugh.
Pete Smith of Mad Alchemy and I talked about doing a small jar of "Jens Blend" that year. It was just going to be a jar with a Jens sticker in the bottom of it, which when you peeled it off said "HTFU!" underneath it. But, then that would kind of go against everything he was doing now wouldn't it?
In any case, there are certainly more favorite Jens moments (the smoking clip comes to mind) and I would love to hear yours. So, feel free to contribute them into the comments section below. And then, lets us raise a glass to the man that filled the void that we so needed in cycling these last couple years — someone to entertain us. Thanks for that Mr. Voigt.