In his almost 20-year professional career, cycling legend Jens Voigt left fans with thrilling memories, dramatic wins and more than a few classic quotes. The “Shut up, legs!” cult hero sat down with ACTIVE.com recently to talk about his favorite rides in his adopted U.S. home base.
Editor’s Note: Jens Voit is sponsored by Fitbit. This interview was conducted independently and was not paid for by Fitbit.
ACTIVE.com: What's your favorite climb in the U.S.?1 of 10
Jens Voigt: One of my favorite climbs, and also I think one of the most rewarding, is in Marin County in California. During the Jensie Gran Fondo we started the climb at the bottom of a place called Alpine Dam. I thought to myself, "this doesn't look so bad." But then, as we made our ascent over what is called the Seven Sisters, let me tell you, after the first three, no one was calling them sisters.
I looked down at my Fitbit Surge, which I use to help me track my real-time progress during rides, and my heart rate was in my peak zone which means I was pushing myself to my limit. I think the gradient at one point was near 30 percent. But the views at the top, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, were incredible and worth every heart-pounding moment to get there.
ACTIVE.com: What's your favorite multi-day ride?2 of 10
JV: Most rides I like to be able to do in one day, for the sake of being able to recover, but I make an exception for the Ride Across Wisconsin. It's 175 miles across incredibly scenic countryside, surrounded by passionate cyclists. Last time, I used my Fitbit to track my sleep and let me tell you, I probably slept better during that ride than during most of the year, when my six kids or our family dog usually wakes me up at sunrise! I've learned that if I set a pretty rigid sleep schedule during multi-day rides, I can ensure I have enough rest after the 100-mile first day to finish strong on the second.
ACTIVE.com: What's your favorite brewery ride?3 of 10
JV: In Germany there is no tradition for a brewery ride; it's always a coffee ride. My favorite brewery ride would be the Trek 100, a charity event hosted by Trek. And I happen to like a local beer called "Spotted Cow," so we finish our ride with a few of them. Since the weather is usually nice and sunny it always turns out to be a great day. Doing good things and having a great time while doing it—how much better can it get, right?
ACTIVE.com: What's the most scenic ride?4 of 10
JV: The USA Pro Challenge is by far one of the most scenic races I've ever done in the United States, although it was not an easy race with the high altitude. The Rocky Mountains are such a beautiful place, and it holds a bit of nostalgia for me, too. It's where my racing career came to an end. I would love to go back to Colorado soon just to do a casual ride and take in the views. It would bring me immense joy.
ACTIVE.com: Which ride has the best people or atmosphere?5 of 10
JV: I can say that the Tour of California is probably the best race to be in, whether you're on the bike or cheering from the side of the road. Now that I'm commentating for the race, I've had more time to meet the fans and get to know so much more about the state of California. I'll never forget in 2011 when the first stage of the race was in Lake Tahoe and it snowed—in the middle of May! The fans kept waiting for us to ride until the moment the stage was canceled. The cycling fans in California are amazing and nothing keeps them away from showing their enthusiasm for the sport.
ACTIVE.com: What's the most difficult route?6 of 10
JV: Like I mentioned earlier, the climb over the Seven Sisters was very challenging. Fitbit lets me see how many feet I've climbed, which for these hills was somewhere around 1,400 feet. We were really working! I noticed everyone around me struggling, but I let my pride get the better of me and pretended it wasn't as difficult as it actually was—and believe me, it was. If there was an elevator going straight to the top, I think we all would have been tempted to take it.
ACTIVE.com: What's the best descent?7 of 10
JV: Finally coming down from the Seven Sisters, I can't even describe what that relief felt like, especially after yelling "Shut Up Legs!" in my mind over and over for that seemingly endless climb. I remember looking at the distance and seeing that we were only halfway into the ride, but this beautiful switchback descent made the whole day a lot more fun. At the bottom was this little town called Stinson Beach where you are right next to the cool breeze from the ocean.
ACTIVE.com: What's your favorite mountain bike or singletrack ride?8 of 10
JV: I don't have a favorite mountain bike ride in particular, but I do enjoy getting off-road every time I get the chance. You see so much more of the world when you take off onto singletrack trails, not to mention it's an excellent way to build endurance and change up your routine. Sometimes I get a little carried away and find myself out riding around in the woods for hours longer than I had intended.
ACTIVE.com: What's your favorite ride of all time?9 of 10
JV: I would say my favorite ride of all time was the last time I was in the USA Pro Challenge on stage four. I was in the breakaway all day until the final kilometer when the Peloton caught me. Even though I didn't win, I felt like I did. I came in hearing people yelling "Shut Up Legs" at the finish line. I hope I showed that even at the end of my career, I was a force to be reckoned with.
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