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Jack Bauer's Blog
by jack

Heading Home

It's the end of the season and what a season it's been! I feel like it's taken me to all four corners of the globe...well in reality the States and a good section of Europe. It’s been good. That's definitely been the highlight of my year, checking out and getting to see a bit more of the world. Seeing as it's October now though and my racing season is over, I can't wait to get back to NZ and see familiar faces and home again. I left home at the end of January, so it's definitely been a long spell overseas.

 

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Thinking back on the year and picking out a few high points… Our trip to Utah back in August was awesome, aye. Really good. All of us in the team had a blast. From the hotels, to the food, to the race routes to the weather, it was all really cool. I think for a lot of us it was our first time in the U.S. which made it all the better. You gotta see the place and experience it first hand to believe it! I had heard that in the States everything was oversize…but it’s actually true! The streets are as wide as a football field and you’re doing well to finish a burger on your own… but back to the race. Yeah it was a blast. A stage win never goes amiss either! That for us made our trip over worthwhile, especially seeing as we kinda got our Utah start in front of other domestic teams who expected to be there and wound up getting the flick. Apparently they were not impressed when a Scottish outfit showed up instead!

Next stop was a week of pain up in La Molina, north Catalunya. We had a training camp up at altitude as a final prep for the Tour of Britain. I was hoping for ski resort holiday… not so. A week on the bike and a pair of bleeding lungs later and we were ready for the TOB hitout. What a race! This is the one where bikes get blown off roofs and stages get cancelled. Both firsts for me - ha ha! Not to mention the peloton nearly drowning on day one when we were welcomed to Endura’s homeland Scotland. To cut a long story short, it’s fair to say the stage was accompanied by more than your average amount of wind and rain. Now I have first hand experience into how Endura have developed such an extensive range or rain, wind and storm proof cycling kit! I knew there was a reason the catalogue contained so many jackets and gloves… If you ride in Scotland without them… I’m pretty sure You Die! [was just a bit drizzly... - ed.]

 

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Post TOB took me to Copenhagen in Denmark for the World Champs. I had a fairly good run in the time trial, narrowly squeezing inside the top 20. NZ as a team were not so fortunate in the men's road race though, getting caught up in a crash towards the sharp end of the race. Still, Linda took a Silver in the women’s TT and James a Silver in the junior men’s TT. So it was a great week for NZ cycling.

 

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Then to cap the season off, Voss managed to put the silver lining on our year with a stage win including the overall at Cinturo de L’Emporda last week. This race was a 3 dayer taking place just north of Girona. Man it made a difference not having to jump on a plane for a few hours to get to the race start! We just had to roll up the coast 30 minutes in the bus! It was also really cool to race on local roads that I’ve been training on around Girona all year. Local knowledge always helps!


Cheers everyone for the support and for following me this year, especially those of you back in NZ. I’m on the plane home now, bound for Christchurch , so I’ll catch you out and about over summer! Come and say hi…  Hang on, before we land is there still a runway for us to set this thing down on??

Peace,

Jack

 

Photos by Joolze Dymond / Andreas Otto

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Clocking up some new countries

I was thinking to myself the other day how great I have it, because sometimes it seems I should be the one paying to do what I do - not getting paid! The sun’s out, I’m pedalling along getting my tan on and checking out the awesome scenery, and this is my job!

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Of course it’s not all plain sailing, especially when it comes to racing and the travel  to and from races. But outside of that, Spain is one awesome place to live and train when summer’s on the cards. I was out the other day in 35C heat! It was awesome. Then I rode past this massive beetle scuttling across the road, saw a green snake curled up on the asphalt and got smacked in the face by this massive dragonfly. Brought me down to earth and for a moment there I thought I was in Jurassic Park! I’ve never come across a snake before, let alone when I’m out on my bike - we don’t get them at all back in NZ. Next time I’ll bunny hop the bugger. We’ll see how quick his reflexes are then...

I think one of the best sides to what I do is the chance to travel to new countries and experience a bit of the local culture. Coming from New Zealand we’re kinda in the middle of nowhere surrounded by oceans - it takes awhile to get anywhere! So we don’t generally go. When people from NZ travel they tend to see as much as they can in one whack and get it out of their systems. There’s always Oz just over the ditch, and within a few hours you can be in Sydney, but it’s not really the same as what’s on your doorstep when you live in Europe.

Every time we race we’re getting on a plane bound for some new location. Of course the majority of our racing happens in the cycling mad countries of France, Spain, Belgium and Italy but every now and then we go somewhere new. Endura sells cycle clothing in countries all over the globe, so our job is to market the brand through racing and getting results in countries where the brand is growing.

A week ago we travelled to south-west Poland for a three day stage race called Szlakiem Grodow Piastowskich. What a tongue-twister of a name huh? I had enough trouble getting the spelling right for this blog let alone trying to pronounce it. We just referred to it as "The tour in Poland"! The night before the race began there was a 30km circuit race (or crit) in the local town centre of Legnica (at least from memory that’s what it was called). The results didn’t count towards the overall standings for the following three days so we got involved in the crit but didn’t take any risks in the final mad gallop for the line. The actual tour was a great race but I lost too much time in the 27km time-trial on day two to have any hopes for the overall GC. Instead I spent my time helping out Iker who was our highest-placed rider.

I’ve had an interest in Poland since learning about the country in school and the large part it played in World War II. I have a German dad as well so have a bit of a connection to this part of the world. I was keen to see even a small part of this country where so much had happened back in the day and where such atrocities against humanity had been committed. It was really sobering to be there and imagine how different life must have been there, just years before. How good have we got it huh? We can believe what we want, live the life we want, do the job we want, and we don’t really need to answer to anyone. Riding a bike for a living wasn’t an option back in those days. It makes you thankful for what you’ve got and definitely made me realize that the issues and problems I face during the day aren’t that big after all.

After the last stage we jumped in the cars and headed across the border and into Germany. Our flight back home left from Berlin, so we had a night in the airport hotel and then flew out in the morning. So two countries in four days, a bit of history and new experience. Not bad at all huh?

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You see what I mean about getting paid to do what I do! All I gotta do now is work on some sort of light-speed way of travelling between Girona and NZ so I can see everyone back home more often! Oh yeah and a shout-out to you Brent, clocking up the k’s over in Samoa. Thanks for the email bro, make sure you grab yourself a MET lid for protection against falling coconuts and try the foot-to-nose technique on those stray dogs yapping at your heels and harassing you during hard-earned training miles! Ride on man.

Tomorrow I’m off to Holland, the land of wooden shoes, windmills and more land below sea level than above it. We’re racing the six day Royal Smilde Olympia's Tour which over seven stages features a prologue, individual time-trial and mammoth 223km stage finale. I’ll be keeping you posted. Anyway what am I going on about, six days isn‘t that long. The Giro’s been going for 8 days already and they’re not even halfway there! Guess that’s what it takes huh?

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Tour Doon Hame

I’m back in G-town after three days of pain up at the Tour Doon Hame stage race in Dumfries, Scotland. Last year I rode this same race, so basically I had some experience as to how cold and wet it could get up there! [watch it! - ed.]

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This time it looked like we were in for a better run because when I arrived in Glasgow with Jack and our Spanish masseur Tex it was 24 degrees and the sun was out! Initially we thought the pilot had made a few navigational errors and landed the plane back in Girona. But it was beautiful, and it just got warmer as we hired a car and made our way south down to Dumfries. Tex, I mean Carlos Sainz, kept us on the edge of our seats with his driving. I don’t think he’d driven on the left side of the road before or in a right-hand drive car for that matter, so we spent a fair bit of time on the curb. I wonder if he’s heard from the car hire place about the state of the front rim yet? It must have had seriously good rubber on it because I could have sworn he blew out the front tyre on impact with the curb. Tex said something about the curbs being way smaller back in Spain Ha-ha!

We were all really motivated as a team to come away with a good result from the race, especially as we had taken 2nd last year. This time we were back to win. It’s also a really important race for Endura as a sponsor and as a Scottish based business. This was their home race, and everyone wants to win at home!

We were all up early on the Saturday morning ready for stage one and guess what? It was hosing down outside. Turns out this was Scotland after all. And man it was freezing! I wasn’t happy. I'm still not feeling 100% and still coming back to form after a serious bout of food poisoning. I’d been training and preparing well, but five days spent on the toilet with no food really sets you back. Your legs feel empty, weak, and your endurance is shot to hell. But anyway, I was as ready as I could be at that moment. The thing is, when it’s cold and raining your legs just feel that much heavier and sluggish. I think I would have gone as well if I’d had a couple blocks of concrete to push the pedals!

As soon as the gun went I knew I was in for a hard day, but the last thing you want to do on the first stage is sit back and relax because as expected, the GC was practically sorted out on the 1st stage. My day went downhill straight away when I punctured in the first four kilometres of the race. As I got a wheel change I then got to witness Jack Anderson collide with a car door while pacing back on after a mechanical! It was a grisly sight, he’s already covered in scars from hitting the deck back in March at the Tour de Normandie and this didn‘t help his case. I was standing about two metres away from him when he tried to ride through the door - the roads were slippery, there were massive potholes, convoy cars were everywhere and when he took flight and subsequently smacked his head on the asphalt I started to seriously consider the possibility of covering the rent by myself from now on... But tough bastard that he is he survived and continued in the race. I got a free lesson that day about what it takes sometimes, you just gotta get up and get on with it.

As it turned out the overall for the race didn’t go as we’d hoped. I ended up day one in 3rd place and didn’t manage to improve it over the two final stages. I had a few digs during the stages to try and get away and take some time, but my legs just weren’t doing what they were told. But I did manage to take the KOM jersey home - as a consolation prize! It’s hanging up on the wall in my lounge. I tell people it’s from the Vuelta...

 

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Photo by Larry Hickmott | www.VeloUK.net

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Circuit des Ardennes and Paris-Camembert

Well here we are again… blog time! What have I been up to since my last instalment? Well I’ve done some miles and got to see a fair bit of France for one, and I got to this bomb toy shop the other day where me and Jack Anderson picked up this slot-car race track that is off the handle! I’m telling you the only reason he’s always beating me is because he’s got the faster car... So we’ve got that set up on the floor of our apartment to whittle away the hours. It’s taking up the majority of our floor space and if the neighbours didn’t hate us before, they definitely do now! Coz it makes one hell of a racket!

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But you want to hear about bikes, so I’ll get back on track. To be honest I’ve haven’t really done a lot of racing that I can tell you about. I spent the best part of last week flat on my bed. Not by choice and not really my idea of life as a cyclist…

I had my 26th birthday last Thursday (I know, you wouldn't know it by looking at me right?), and as luck would have it we had a day of travel lined up. Myself and Jack my flattie celebrated the big day by getting up way too early to knock out a couple hrs spin on the bike before jumping on the bus to the airport and spending the rest of the day travelling. No cakes or party this year! We flew into Belgium and headed off to Charleville Meziers in France for the start of Circuit d’Ardennes. A couple of weeks easy training in Girona had brought me out of our last stage race real motivated and with good legs so I was hoping to light it up in this 3 day hilly tour.

The 1st stage I felt really good and had a crack at the KOM points. At the end of the day I had done enough to be sitting 2nd in the classification - so I had something to aim towards over the next 2 days. You know how you have days every now and then that you really feel on it? Like everyone else around you is just creeping and you can’t wait to start hammering them? On the bike I mean… Well Friday was one of those. So I got amongst it!

The thing is, when you have great form you also often have really low immunity to boot, and it doesn’t take much of a mistake to tip you over the edge. Like was about to happen to me at dinner. So anyway… I went to have a feed that night with the rest of the crew, and didn't really eat anything out of the ordinary. Standard post race diet consists of a whole lot of clean carbs (pasta or rice) and some sort of protein, salad, you know the drill. Food of champions! That’s how I roll. Now sometime during the meal I downed a nice salmon steak. Real nice. It was that good I was gonna have another because there was one left in the dish, but the waiter took it away before I could get my hands on it. Anyway, we finished dinner and I was feeling great - none the wiser - 'til about 2 hrs later... No details are necessary but let's just say I must have eaten something pretty evil in that salmon and I didn’t wind up starting stage 2 the next day. Or getting out of bed for the next couple of days! Apart from when I absolutely had to, which was about every 30 minutes! That was the end of my Ardennes, ending as quick as it started.

Unfortunately this bout of food poisoning had really hammered me and I wasn’t able to start our next event, Paris-Camembert on the Tuesday either. I made the most of the situation though and got to see a bit of the race while following it in the van driven by our wrench Stu. It seemed like all the other vehicles in our convoy were chucking out promo material to the crowds along the course, things like caps, sweets etc. People were yelling at us in French and holding out their hands expectantly as we drove up the main climb of the day, and we felt kinda stink not having anything to give out! Anyway it was a beautiful day in Camembert and a really exciting race to watch. Endura Racing had a good day and were stoked to get 7th place in the form of our Basque rocket Iker Camano. He’s really flying at the moment and rode an impressive race. Euskal Herrian beti jai!

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Now it’s on to Quimper and Brest in north-west France for two UCI 1.1 French Cups. We’re starting Tour du Finistere on Saturday and Tro-Bro Leon on Sunday. I rode both of these races last year and had a blast.

For the most part I’m just grateful to be out of my death-bed, healthy and ready to get on the start line again! I’m not expecting big things because I’ve really had the stuffing knocked outta me this week, but I have managed to get out on the bike for a few miles over the last 3 days so I've got some feeling and strength back in my legs. Should be a good couple of days in Tourland!

Vive le France!

Keep your ears to the ground, next blog coming soon…

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Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen & Tour de Normandie

So we all got a kicking in Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen  (Three Days of West Flanders). Man it was cold over there! The racing was savage - crashes, icy wind, cracks in the road, slippery cobbles and loads of riders with more form than me! It all made for a fairly hard weekend. I enjoyed it though but I guess it was disappointing as my race was effectively over since I had completely misjudged my efforts on the 8km prologue and wound up losing over half a minute to the stage winner, Kiwi speed demon Jess Sergent. It was real sweet to see Jess and Sam Bewley, both Kiwis and my neighbours in Girona take 1st and 3rd in the prologue. Talk about flying the flag for NZ!

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Last week was a big one for myself and Endura though with Alex Blain taking the final GC and yellow jersey in the Tour of Normandie in northern France. With just four of us out of the original six completing the seven day tour it was a big ask to first of all take the yellow jersey and then defend it. But as it turned out with a whole lot of dedication and hard fought miles we were able to do just that.

Me and JackA weren’t too sure how Normandie would go because we’d both had the flu really bad leading up to the race. Jack came out of Murcia pretty well but in the two week break I had between West-Vlaanderen and Normandie I managed to somehow pick up the flu. So as luck would have it I managed to just get over the illness and start feeling better on the Sunday before the race started on Monday with the individual prologue. However, as you all know living in close proximity with a flatmate generally means you pass whatever you’ve got onto them. So as I was coming right Jack A was going downhill - which meant he had a pretty big ask to finish the next seven days of racing let alone help us take the leader's jersey and hang onto it through to the end.

It was a real solid week for us in the overall classification of the race with Alexander Wetterhall moving into the top three with his 3rd place on stage two and then myself moving into the top four later on in the week. However Alexandre Blain was able to get up the road in the closing miles of the penultimate stage and with a mammoth effort won the stage on a real difficult finishing circuit to put him in the overall lead by five seconds. This meant Alexandre only put on the leader's jersey with one stage to go, and we only had to defend it for one day - the perfect way to win a tour!

The legs were making a few complaints though because we had been on the bike for six days already! Also, the team had been weakened on day two when Wilko (Ian Wilkinson) went down in a bad pileup in the sprint. He came out of it with concussion, a broken collarbone and a tonne of skin missing to his arm and one leg. Man it was a grisly sight seeing him come back from the hospital that night… So all this cut us back to a five man team for the week, and it didn’t help things when the following day JackA decided to lay his bike down on stage three. Not only did he take the majority of the skin off his right leg, but he also broke his bike in two! But I guess true to his Aussie roots he hammered on and got us through the week. We lost Callum in the middle of the week to a time-cut, so six well and truly had become four!

We were lucky to have three strong time-trialists in myself, JackA and AlexW to keep the pace high and take Blain to the line on the final day. So at the end of a long week it was really cool to be part of Endura’s first UCI stage race win. We had given it absolutely everything during the week and to come away with the goods was just awesome! The icing on the cake.

Girona welcomed me and Jack back yesterday with a whole lot of pissing down rain! Apparently for the first time in history we’d enjoyed a dry week in Normandie while they were getting hosed on down in the deserts of Spain. But it’s good to be back home to chill out and take it easy for a few days before we begin our assault on the Circuit des Ardennes back in France next Friday. We’re gonna make sure this time there’s no flu in the equation ha ha! We put the wheels in motion as soon as we got home by clearing out the fridge, opening all the windows and washing all the linen in the apartment - what do you reckon Mum? Will that do the trick?

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