Jens Voigt shows Folsom some loveBy: Bill Sullivan, Associate Publisher
While the arrival and the departure of the Amgen Tour of California pretty much was the climax for Folsom’s chapter of May is Bike Month, several area cyclists and residents experienced an added perk to the area last week thanks to some leg work by the owners of a local bike shop. As it turns out, the visit to the City of Folsom was just as special for the visitor as it was those who came out to see him.
As the Amgen Tour of California was setting up Thursday evening near the Johnny Cash Trail for Friday’s Stage 6 send-off, across the river, a group was gathered near the outside seating area of Folsom Grind and Folsom Bike on Auburn-Folsom Road.
Through a series of business connections, Folsom Bike co-owner Erin Gorrell managed to bring famed-cycling icon Jens Voigt for a special visit to speak in the city that Voigt first learned about through his life-long love of Johnny Cash music.
“Every time you hear Folsom you think about Johnny Cash and the famous Folsom Prison he sang about,” Voigt said. “I have been a fan for many years of Johnny Cash; he was one of the very first forms of music I listened to in Germany. I have Johnny Cash music in my iPad. I have Cash t-shirts at home. He is the man; he is the all-time greatest.”
A German native, Voigt is a former professional road bicycle racer who competed on several teams. Voigt wore the yellow jersey during the Tour de France two different times in his career. His decorated resume includes winning the Critérium International a record-tying five different times and a number of one-week stage races, as well as two Tour de France stage victories.
During his active riding career, Voigt was extremely popular with cycling fans, both for his aggressive riding style and the unique and personable manner in which he engages with the public and media. Today, he is very much involved in the sport and continues to be a fan favorite at various events and engagement.
In February of 2015, it was announced that Voigt would be the official ambassador of the Tour of California. He also serves as a television analyst for NBC and an adviser to the organizer to the tour.
“We were extremely fortunate to have Jens join us tonight and visit with the people of Folsom,” Gorrell said. “Anyone that has followed cycling through the years knows who he is and everyone just loves him. Being in the bike business, you make connections with people. We have been fortunate to work with the City of Folsom for a number of years to bring the Amgen Tour back here. We also work with AEG. We have been able to help them and they have helped us a lot. So I decided to give them a call and see what they could do to get Jens here to Folsom Bike for a visit, and they made it happen.”
At the conclusion of the visit, Gorrell was joined by Robert Goss, director of Folsom Parks and Recreation. The duo presented Voigt with his very own commemorative Johnny Cash Trail jersey to take home to Germany.
Voigt was as excited as child on Christmas morning when he received the gift. He quickly put it on, threw his hands up in the air and said, “Johnny Cash Forever!” Voigt will now be unofficially representing the City of Folsom, and it’s great Johnny Cash Trail on the other side of the world now with his new jersey while making Bike Month in Folsom a little extra special.