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Shut Up Legs! is a non-traditional but really entertaining cycling autobiography. It covers former pro cyclist Jens Voigt's life both on and off the bike in an original and unique way. Well worth a read.
Since he retired, Jens Voigt has been almost more visible than when he was racing, and naturally his most famous saying has been right at the forefront of this. So far it is both the name of his clothing line and the name of his autobiography.
Unlike most ex-pro autobiographies, Jens starts off by saying that he cannot really remember much about the specifics of races and so much of the book talks in general terms rather than specific attacks or breakaways.
Normally this would be a bit annoying, but here it doesn't really take away from the narrative of the book. Instead, rather than looking at his individual victories or the feelings he had in the break, it looks at how he felt about his teammates, coaches and the pro peloton in general. It works well and gives a new and interesting perspective on professional cycling.
Given his expansive career, this is probably the best way to cover it, and he deals with a whole range of things, from being raised in West Germany through to his thoughts on Lance Armstrong and the doping culture. Each is approached in his characteristic excitable way and I have never seen the word 'super' used before so many words before in one book.
Having recently read Geraint Thomas's The World of Cycling According to G and David Millar's The Racer, this book straddles the line between the two nicely. It has a semi-linear narrative going through Jens' career, but at the same time addresses elements of how he races, crashing, sharing rooms, training techniques, thoughts on why he's been successful and so on, as chapters in themselves. It doesn't go into the technical detail that you often find in discussing the type of bike used, the gearing ratios and that kind of thing, but instead looks at more emotive parts of racing.
It also has some great images of Jens throughout his career in a couple of glossy sections. These add to the resonance of what he's saying and serve to give pictorial evidence to some of what he discusses. However, he also throws in some really nice chapter introductions from his ex-teammates and coaches discussing their thoughts on Jens regarding a specific chapter or topic. It makes it really interesting to not just hear the inner monologue of the man, but also the perception that others had of him or the events he is discussing.
The hardback version of the book has an RRP of £16.99, but it can also be bought as an e-book for £9.99.
Overall, the book is a really excellent read, is quite well written and expansive without ever going overly technical. The one enduring thing I got from the book is that Jens's perception of being a genuinely nice person isn't just a persona for the cameras, it really comes across. You can see his passion for riding and his disdain for doping really shine through, and while many co-authored autobiographies tend to lose a bit of the voice of the subject, this manages to keep it very much intact.
A really interesting and informative book that stays true to Jens's voice throughout
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shut Up Legs by Jens Voigt
Size tested: Hardback, 256pp
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
'Jens embodies the best of cycling's qualities – loyalty to his team, sacrifice, and devotion to the sport. He says, 'I'm not a head person, I'm more of a heart and guts guy. That's how I race.' Shut Up Legs will be a funny, insightful and entertaining look at the tough realities of professional cycling, told in Jens's trademark irreverent and inimitable style.'
This is an accurate description of the book. It looks at all elements of professional cycling and Jens's opinions of some of it.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Published 12th May 2016
162mm x 240mm x 27mm
Interesting book that kept me entertained throughout.
An entertaining and enlightening book, so did exactly what it needed to.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
How it managed to still keep Jens's voice despite having the input of a second author. I couldn't read it in anyone's voice except his.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Maybe needs a little more detail for those who are into that sort of thing.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Really interesting book that covers every aspect it needs to without getting bogged down in too much detail. It discusses everything I wanted it to, looking at everything that made Jens one of the best loved cyclists of the past 20 years.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
George spends his days helping companies deal with their cycling commuting challenges with his company Cycling for Work. He has been writing for Road.cc since 2014.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.