so I get this message, fancy riding with Jens Voigt next weekend...
I have a friend that I've known for many years thats a bit mad, I don't mean mad in a bad way, quite the contrary, he just seems to pack so much into his days I can't believe he can keep going like he does. Stuart Grace is a sail maker by day and charity fundraiser at all other times, having a daughter with Epilepsy, ADHD and learning disabilities for over 17 years, and has a relative receiving care at a hospice, quite how he finds the time to go fundraising I do not know.
For the last 5 years he has organised a fantastic event in the New Forest called the Shut Up Legs Charity Bike Ride. It's put on to raise money for the Epilepsy Society plus a few other worthy charities. Local shops and international companies provide prizes but it's the star in the form of Super Domestique Jens Voigt that gives the event its name, you see "Shut Up Legs" is Jens's saying, like when you have to dig super deep to keep going. If you don't know who he is look him up, he's probably one of the toughest riders ever and definitely one of the nicest riders on the planet.
So Stuart calls me up saying there is a spare place available if I want to ride, little did he know that until about 4 days earlier I did not possess a road bike. So off I go on Saturday to do 52 miles riding in a group of 10 riders, (they split the riders into 10 groups of about 10 in each group). I'm on a old Trek Carbon bike of the Lance Armstrong era, with some massive gearing and super twitchy race geometry. I also looked a bit of a tool with a MTB lid with the peak removed, hairy legs, and Mountain Bike shoes & pedals, but I made up for that with a super tight pair of bib tights that was Jens old team kit and a Small Sticky Pod in my jersey pocket with 2 bottles on the bike instead of my usual hydration bag. It's quite special to be on a ride in the New Forest on a lovely day with a nice bunch of people and then having Jens Voigt pull up next to you for a chat whilst you admire the scenery.
After the ride there was a raffle to raise a few more pounds with some amazing prizes followed by a photo and signing with the great man himself. I took the opportunity to give Jens something and he seemed genuinely happy with the Custom Nox Sox Pedal Covers that I had had printed with his "Shut Up Legs" tag line, plus I also gave him a Sticky Pod because no rider should be without one, although he did say he reckoned his kids will nab that off of him. The day was finished off with a Q and A with Jens, he was very witty and wanted interesting questions that he hasn't been asked before. If you believed the stereotype that Germans don't have a sense of humour you were in for a surprise. So that was my day, spent with a lovely bunch of people and a true legend plus I was lucky to be sent some pictures by Michael S Marks for proof that I didn't make the whole thing up, as if.
If you would like to donate to Stuart Grace's Just Giving page click here...www.justgiving.com/stuart-grace2/4w350m3/donate?cbuster=636401544148106831#MessageAndAmount