One of our main goals has been to virtualize events; and for our first one, we wanted to kick off the start of the Amgen Tour of California with a fan ride and live commentary from Jens Voigt. The crew worked very hard to get everything in place, and the event went off amazingly! After the ride and a little spin outside, we sat down with Jens to talk about the event and what he’s been up to in retirement.
Z: Jens, you’ve been riding Zwift for a while now. How did being able to use voice communication with your fans change the experience?
J: Having voice made it a lot more fun! It’s such a good way to keep in contact. It gives a chance to interact with people from all over the world. That’s really cool!
Z: Do you think the ability to talk with voice chat will make Zwift better?
J: Definitely! One of the best aspects of cycling is that it’s social. You can always find someone to ride with, or run into someone on the road, or join a group ride. It’s the last barrier for someone who might be hesitant to try Zwift. They will see that’s it’s even more like riding outside, except you don’t have rain or cars. It feels like you’re riding outside, or at least really close to it; It gives it another kick.
Z: Do you think more events like this will help grow the fan base for professional cycling?
J: I hope it sparks interest in fans to first go on Zwift, do a ride like this one, and then maybe in the future...go out to the races and watch them live. I really liked the special banner and Amgen archways, hopefully it gave the fans a great experience and they will want to come out more.
Z: What stood out most for you from the day’s event?
J: We had over 200 people out there that took the time out of their day to ride with me. There were some really great questions, too. I noticed a lot of people seem to have a really good fitness level: they didn't seem to have a hard time keeping up. We were forming a real peloton. That was so cool!
Z: Do you think Zwift could potentially be used to find new talent for professional cycling?
J: I was surprised to see how many riders were really putting out some good numbers. I think one day we could have proper racing on Zwift.
Z: We heard you were just in Australia doing the Tour de Cure ride for charity. What are some charities that are closest to you?
J: The epilepsy society in the UK is important to me. My friend’s daughter suffers from epilepsy, and we do a ride there every year. But the more I do, the more I realize how much more needs to be done. The Tour de Cure was really cool because all the funds go directly to research. I love anything that helps children.
Z: Speaking of children, you have 6 kids. Any more kids now that you are retired?
J: No, no more kids. We have 6 kids, it’s a lot. We also have 2 dogs, a cat, 9 rabbits, and my mother-in-law. It’s full gas in my house all the time. Now the 2 younger girls want me to get them a horse. Horses are too expensive.
Z: You would need to do a charity ride to get your daughters a horse!
J: Haha! Donate money for Jensie’s daughters, get a free horse for Jensie’s daughters! Sounds good! (Joking, of course.)
Z: Do you think Zwift could change the way parents look at video games and become something for families to do together?
J: Definitely small families and couples. They could ride together even if they have different fitness levels. You can always start together and ride together.
Z: You were flagged during the KOM challenge for having superhuman power. What did you think of that?
J: Well, it was true. We didn't have the perfect calibration for the trainer, so it was a little off. But I guess I do still have some power left!
We can’t thank Amgen Tour of California and Jens Voigt enough for being a part of this groundbreaking event. You can follow Jens and all his new adventures @thejensie. We hope to see all of you at the next event! Check out this recap video of the Amgen Tour of California with Jens HERE !
This interview has been edited and condensed.