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222015Oct

THE JENSIE GRAN FONDO OF MARIN

THE JENSIE GRAN FONDO OF MARIN

When Jens Voigt, the former German professional road cyclist, broke the hour record in September 2014, it appeared he had reached the pinnacle of greatness in the sport he loved. Known as one of the most popular cyclists in the peloton and loved by cycling fans the world over, Jens’ aggressive riding style juxtaposed with his elegant, affable way with the public and media, set the stage for something much more than the typical post professional retirement of rider appearances and TV commentary. Though Jens is now one of the top rated TV announcers during the TOC and the Tour de France, his is seeking to do much more in his post Leopard Trek era.

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EXPERIENCE MCBC

In March 2015, admittedly already late for a same-year event, Studio Velo and Corso Sport Marketing, Jen’s sport agent, announced a commercial relationship where they would launch a Gran Fondo here in Marin County with Jens himself.   Titled “The Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin,” this first-annual event seeks to benefit the Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) while delivering the first, premium Gran Fondo event here in Marin County. By supporting MCBC, The Jensie will directly raise both funds and awareness for the most important advocacy group here in Marin. The Marin County Bicycle Coalition advances the common good of cycling for a better Marin by giving cyclist a voice, educating the next generation of riders and drivers and building the cycling community day in and day out.

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A BETTER EXPERIENCE FOR ALL CYCLISTS

On Friday evening, October 9th, two of our invaluable event sponsors, UBS and Reed Smith, hosted the Founders Club evening in downtown San Francisco. A gathering of passionate cyclists and sponsor’s guests, The Founders Club evening brought together members of the cycling community from all around the world, from Indonesia to Panama, from New York to Germany, and from German beyond. For Jens, he wanted to ensure The Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin was one of the most extraordinary cycling events the world has ever seen and we think he quite literally made that happen.

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AN EXTRAORDINARY DAY ON THE BIKE

During the early hours of Saturday morning, October 10th, I personally had the pleasure of picking up Jens in downtown Mill Valley, just around the corner from where the entire Studio Velo/Corso event team had been spending long days and nights preparing for the big event. With a hot Equator coffee in hand, I walked through a dark walkway expecting to find Jens still in bed. Clearly, Jens was made for this stuff; he already had his Trek Factory Kit on, one coffee consumed and he was ready to ride his signature “Shut Up Legs” 100-mile route through the lovely Marin County. Full of his usual humor, Jens emerged from the studio apartment rearing to go, “race ready” and full of excitement. “So, do you think I will make the full distance? “ Jens quips. “You know, I am really excited for today,” Jens continues, and we roll out towards Novato. By the time we hit Novato Blvd, hard-core riders line the roads with blinky lights clad in local cycling team and club kits. As we roll by each rider, a friendly wave at “The Jensie Mobile” becomes contagious. Jens again chimes in, “Wow, this is going to be so much more fun than a race; I can’t believe these people are coming to see me.” Jens and I look at each other and commit to delivering the people what they have come to experience: An Extraordinary Day on the Bike.

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As Jens and I roll into the parking area, a crowd or riders encircle “The Jensie Mobile” and Jens does what he does best: he welcomes the people with full openness and class. One rider after the next approaches the car, seeking an autograph, a photo opportunity and sometimes a hug. His affable self proves genuine yet again. From 7am until 6pm, literally, Jens shares the day with the people. He slowly moves towards the MC, who asks Jens to share a few words on safety and riding in large numbers. Jens is right at home. He grabs the microphone and delights the crowd with one joke after the next. So engulfed in the thrill of riding his first Gran Fondo of Marin, Jens realizes moments before the start gun, he doesn’t have his shoes on! I quickly take Jens to the car, grab his shoes and helmet, and like the veteran pro that he is, he pulls out his gear one piece at a time and dresses like a true professional. We quickly grab his fancy Trek race machine off the roof, and proceed to the huge crowd of riders in the starting shoot.

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At 8:03, the peloton, with Jens and 100 Founders at the head, rolled out of Stafford Lake. With Novato Blvd fully closed to traffic, over 1200 riders set off on what would be an incredible day with Jens Voigt in the heart of Marin County.

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By the time we hit the first stop at White’s Hill, the Osmo fueling station was beaming with riders and volunteers. Jens, who early in the day decided to stop at all rest stops along the way to thanks each and every volunteer, was once again sequestered by riders for photos. By the time we rolled around the entire 100-mile course, I would estimate that Jens had taken over 1 million photos with riders and volunteers. From the gourmet rest stop at Point Reyes where Jens himself indulged himself in Equator coffee, Honeymoon Ice Cream and of course savory treats from FarmShop, to the windy and hot Tomales stop near mile 90, the day was long but truly remarkable.

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Sharing each and every mile on The Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin with Jens brought an incredible appreciation for what it meant to be a celebrity. But Jens is no ordinary celebrity; rather, he is unequivocally a man who believes in creating community on the bike. Like MCBC, The Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin seeks to be part of the change we want in Marin. We want to inspire each and every rider to enjoy every ride on his or her bike. We want to give the gift of cycling to the next generation. We want to improve the community we love so much. In the end, we wanted to create a powerful platform for your voice and values in Marin County.

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Long live The Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin