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Jack Bauer's Blog
by jack

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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