Cycling Legend Jens Voigt Shares His Gran Fondo Experience

02_Jens_Voigt_Social_Blog_Photo: Alex Chiu

On Saturday, October 10, I had the great pleasure of hosting the first The Jensie Gran Fondo in Marin County, California. The event offered three rides, 100 miles, 70 miles, and 40 miles, which allowed road cyclists of all abilities to gather together and take part in a day of fun and suffering with me.

It was a bizarre feeling to participate in a race and see big banners with “The Jensie”  written on them—it made me nervous, but also pretty excited. From the moment I got out of the car, I knew it was going to be a special day. People were so friendly and everyone wanted to say hello. I must have been in more than 400 photos that day! And I loved every minute of it.

I’m not one of those crazy professional cyclists who retires and continues to go for 6-hour “fun” rides. These days, I only ride to enjoy it, but I wanted to ride with as many people as possible at the event so I knew it was going to be a long day in the saddle. Here’s how everything went down, from start to finish.

5:35am  My alarm went off. I had been worried about oversleeping, so I said to my wife, “Honey, call me at 2:45pm European time, which will be 5:45am my time,” in case I missed my alarm. She called me exactly at 5:45am, and since I was already awake we talked about how the kids were doing.

6:00am  I made my muesli, met with my agent Joao who came around to make sure I was OK, and had lots and lots of coffee.

7:00am  We arrived at The Jensie Gran Fondo. There were so many people there who wanted to take photos and chat away. I got on the stage and spoke to the crowds on the microphone, getting them excited for the day.

8:00am  We began the day with everyone together and the ride was pretty easy to start off.

9:00am  We stopped at the first rest stop. I told everyone it was so they could get photos, bla bla, bla. But really I just wanted a break and to use the bathroom after drinking all that coffee. It was hard to get to the toilet because selfies became more important than my bladder.

9:45am  After the rest stop, we road to Mount Tamelplldejhe—or whatever it’s called. I didn’t know how to pronounce the name of the mountain, and everyone was still laughing at me and trying to get me to say it when I was on the stage after the race. [Editor’s note: Mount Tamalpais is the highest peak in the Marin Hills.]

10:00am  After Mount Tamehdjdkdkd—or whatever it’s called, we had to climb seven sisters. They were vicious! I won’t repeat what people were calling them after the first three, but it wasn’t sisters anymore. I remember thinking, “Oh no, I can’t show the people around me how much I am suffering here.” But there was sunlight and fog, and we could see the ocean, and it was just breathtakingly beautiful.

10:30am  We continued to ride and I met some people from Panama who came especially for the event. Things got really cool when I met some people from Indonesia. I discovered this was the third time on three different continents that I had seen them this year—once was at the Tour de France. I had to ask if they were stalking me! (Or maybe I was stalking them? Haha.) Such a great honor to have people travel all that way for this event.

11:15am  I met a cool guy who came to ride with us on a custom bike, specially designed to look like the Golden Gate Bridge. Seriously, it looked like he was pedaling the Golden Gate Bridge—it was really neat!


The ubersicht (overview) from my Fitbit Surge.

12:00pm  As we cycled along the coast there was a block headwind, but the pace was easy and the roads were flat. I told myself, “Jensie, you still have a little bit left in the tank. You are looking good!”

1:05pm  At the northern most point of the ride, we took a right turn. There was another rest stop and we had another 25 miles to go. After 5 hours on the bikes, we noticed turkey vultures circling over our heads. I felt like we were going to die any minute, and I think the vultures were hoping that we would.

2:00pm  We had a nice tailwind to take us home, and everyone was happy when we saw the lake and knew the finish was near. I met some incredible people—they were all so friendly and quick to smile.

2:30pm I took some time to look at my Fitbit Surge, and reviewed my stats for the day.

More than 1,200 people made me suffer on the bike at The Jensie Gran Fondo, and I loved every second of it. The inaugural ride got the event off to a good start, and I’m looking forward to hosting this event for a good 10 to 15 years.

Who’s ready to ride next year? Join the conversation below and share your cycling goals!

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