A local bicycle coalition sat down with Jens to get his perspective on his upcoming Gran Fondo. Enjoy the interview!
1. Why did you decide to get involved with Marin County Bicycle Coalition for the Jensie Gran Fondo?
First of all, I love California. And what I love more than California is riding my bike in California. So when the idea of the Gran Fondo in Marin was born it was important for me to support a good cause as well. Connecting with the MCBC was a logical fit. Making cycling safer and more accessible is something that’s close to my heart and something that I’m passionate about.
2. Your phrase, “Shut Up Legs,” has endeared you to the bicycling community, and is the name of your website. Can you share with us the story of how you became known for this famous phrase?
I think the first time I said it during an interview. And people found it funny – maybe because of my German accent or maybe because people thought it’s something they can connect to. Anyone who has ridden a bike knows the feeling of the legs getting tired – and then you really want to yell at them to “shut up”. It helped me get through hard stages and fight through tough days in a break-away. When I realized that this slogan went “viral” in the cycling community it really made me proud and I wanted to spread it even further. So we founded our clothing line “SHUT UP LEGS” and people can now wear this slogan whenever they go out there and suffer. There are even several people out there with SHUT UP LEGS tattoos – how awesome is that?!
3. Bicycle advocacy coalitions like Marin County Bicycle Coalition and Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition work tirelessly to make our roads and trails safer for bicyclists, and to encourage more people to hop onto two wheels. From your perspective, what lessons can we take from other countries, especially those with great bicycle culture and infrastructure, to make bicycling a safer, more desirable transportation option for more people?
First of all it’s about respecting other traffic stakeholders. Bike riders need to respect cars and cars need to respect bike riders. We all just want to get from A to B and want to do so in a safe way. And I really hope that more and more people will commute to work or to do the groceries on the bike – it’s healthy for you and if we can all work together to make bike riding safer, it will be more desirable. In Holland for example you have bike lanes everywhere and it’s the most normal thing in the world for a car to stop at a roundabout and let 30 bikes pass. There the bikes are a very normal part of the community – and this is how it should be everywhere.
4. Your career has had many incredible moments, including setting a new hour record in 2014; two-time Tour de France stage winner; five-time overall winner at the Criterium International; and a stage winner at the Amgen Tour of California and the USA Pro Challenge. Can you share the moment in your career you are most proud of or maybe one that feels most memorable to you?
That was clearly Paris Nice 2005, we had one of my oldest friends, Bobby Julich, in the yellow jersey and in the last stage about 20 miles to go there was only me left to secure his overall victory. And since Bobby has sacrificed himself many times for me I really wanted this win for Bobby. I knew that during the season his wife Angela and his daughter Olivia lived with Bobby in Nice and they would be there hoping that Daddy would win. So I was the line of defense between victory and disaster. And I grew up to the challenge, chased every attack down, got new water bottles and kept Bobby out of the wind and we secured his victory. Ending up on the podium in Nice with the team and Bobby and watching his wife and daughter with tears in their eyes was the moment when I realized that this was the most rewarding day in my career. And Bobby later said” You know Jens, you must have had one of the best days in your career, you could have ridden away from everyone and taken the stage and the overall. But I didn’t and that makes this day so special for me because it was all for my friend.
5. How do you ride differently now that you aren’t racing?
Well, first of all, I ride a lot slower now. I made a contract with myself after I stopped racing, and in that contract there are only 2 rules, no more riding in the rain and no more suffering. But hey, I broke both of them already on a few occasions. I like a mix of crosscountry MTB riding and riding on the road. Also I do a lot of running. Mostly I ride around three hours, that’s my comfort limit, I can do three hours anytime and anywhere without hurting too much. And it’s great to ride with some company, it’s simply less lonely and since I don’t need to do intervals anymore, I can ride slower and wait for people and relax more and make my riding more of a social event than suffering.
Long story short- I keep it friendly, easy and social.
6. Last year was the inaugural Jensie Gran Fondo. What are you looking forward to experiencing at this year’s Grand Fondo?
If it’s the same amount of fun as last year it will be a blast! I hope people will bring their friends and make it an enjoyable day for everyone. I’m especially looking forward to the rest-stops. I will take my time and try all the great food and drinks we will have for the participants. I can’t wait to meet and ride with as many participants as I can!
Thank you to Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition for conducting this interview with Jens.