Thursday 2 October 2014

One day one photo - 19

Sunday 28th September

So I was back at the Cycle Show at Birmingham NEC on the final day, which meant even more people were swarming around the exhibition halls.

I was glad to have been there on the previous Thursday for two reasons.

Firstly, because on trade day it is a lot easier to move around the hall since there are fewer visitors than on the publicly open days.

Secondly, I wasn't able to move easily as I sprained my ankle the previous day when doing the Parkrun in the morning and then aggravated it even more at the cyclo cross race later that afternoon. So I had to keep my movements to a minimum, only visiting a couple of stands and then spending the rest of the time in the press room. 

Why couldn't I have just stayed at home and rested up? Well, because I had been accorded some time to interview a certain Mr Jens "shut up legs" Voigt for Cycling Weekly. It wasn't an occasion I wanted to miss. So I gave it a "shut up ankle" and made the trip down to Birmingham.

Now I, and my peers have a lot of respect and admiration for the Jensie and it is fair to say he is box office. But it's easy to say that when you are in a bubble of cycle aficionados who willingly travel to France to stand around for hours just to watch him whizz by in a few minutes - people whose lives revolve around cycling. It can't just be assumed that he is a crowd puller for the large number of lay public who have a general interest in bicycles and have come down to the NEC for a leisure day out with the family.

So I was interested to see how much of a crowd-puller and crowd-pleaser he really would be to the public, for the Questions and Answers session on the main stage.  And indeed he was. It was standing room only to see this event, with people squeezed into every possible space available. The MC said that this was the best attended event of all the Q & A sessions.

The session was followed by a mammoth autographing session on the Trek Factory Racing stand where a very long queue of men, women, children and babies waited patiently to have their minute of fame with the Jensie. Sadly, many people were turned away as he had to go away and fulfil other media commitments. People had also been left disappointed in the morning when the 90-minute photo and autographing session had not been long enough to satisfy the queue of folks who wanted a piece of him.

So I got my chance to talk to Jens Voigt later in the afternoon, not long before he had to dash off for his flight back to Berlin. I must say I actually felt a little bit nervous when I initially spoke to him, which is something I don't normally feel when interviewing people. I definitely had the feeling of being in the presence of greatness!

As ever, the smiling Jensie was down-to-earth, and quite easy to talk to. He really does talk for England and for Germany too! Jens had lots of stories to tell and made me and his entourage laugh with his sometimes out-of-left-field sense of humour.

The thing that struck me most about Jens Voigt was how generous he was with his time for people and he showed no arrogance at all in spite of all his achievements. He was just an all-round nice guy.

I hope Jens Voigt sticks around and maintains his profile in cycling or otherwise. The public appreciates characters like the Jensie. Who knows, if he gets his way we may even see a fly-on-the-wall style The Voigts, showing his family life on TV, or a "cameo" as a murder victim in CSI!

My interview with the Jensie is now on-line. Read it here.

Photo by Ian Homer Photography

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