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Jack Bauer: New Zealand Son, Riding the World

November 4, 2011

Jack Bauer wins stage 2 of 2011 Tour of Utah (Jonathan Devich photo)

Who was that guy in a black kit with lime green stripes? Many spectators leaning over the barriers at the 2011 Tour of Utah’s stage two finishing straight didn’t recognize the tall rider who had just flashed across the line with his arms raised. Chances are they met this man, Jack Bauer of the UCI Continental UK-based Endura Racing team, for the first time as he saluted the crowd from the presentation stage. More than just his powerful sprint caught cycling fans’ attention during that race.

Brad Sohner interviewing Jack Bauer after stage 2 2011 Tour of Utah win (Mary Topping)

“The fans in the U.S. are pretty excitable and happy with an autograph/photo,” Jack said in comments to ProVéloPassion. “They get excited over accents as well…kiwi ones that is!” At the end of the 2011 season, Jack shared in his blog on the Endura Racing website that the team had a blast racing in Utah.

Parapara Inlet New Zealand (Jock Phillips photo, Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand)

Racing pulls Jack away from New Zealand from January to October, which sounds hard on him. Again in his last blog, Jack wrote, “I can’t wait to get back to NZ and see familiar faces and home again.” Among those familiar faces are his “kiwi girlfriend,” Alice, and his immediate family.

In his bio on the Endura Racing website, Jack cites his father, Hans, as the person who has had the most influence on his cycling career: “…when I was younger I started my riding and mountain bike racing with him. Back then we’d always race each other so I guess you could say he taught me the importance of riding for the win! He keeps tabs on me and has supported me a huge amount throughout my career.” Jack grew up in a small town called Parapara on the south island of New Zealand, near the Tasman Sea and Southern Alps mountains. He rode in his first mountain bike event, The Rainbow Rage, at age 13.

As a mountain biker he scored top-five results and made the New Zealand under-23 team for cross country world championships in 2006. Then, burned out from overtraining and studying for a degree in physical education, he almost gave up on cycling and gave music a run as bass player in the “Dream Farm” band. He picked up the bike again in 2007. After working as a cycle courier, in 2009 he joined the Kingsnorth International Wheelers amateur team in Belgium. He stacked up nine wins while competing for the first time against an international field on the road.

Amidst the ups and downs, it seems his father has been his anchor, his biggest source of encouragement.

Jack Bauer Wins 2010 Elite New Zealand Road Championship (Pete Bruggeman photo)

Hans supported Jack when, at 24 years-old, he battled elbow-to-elbow with favorites for the 2010 New Zealand National Road Championship title in 2010. In reply to the ProVéloPassion question about the best thing that’s happened to him so far in his professional racing career, Jack said, “Winning the NZ road nationals last January. Of course we’re not a large cycling country but that really put me on the map and gave me a lot of confidence. Plus I had my Dad there to support me. He doesn’t get to see me race much, so for him to be there was really special.”

Jack’s fans enjoy keeping tabs on him, too, in different ways. “The European crew are more into hounding you for a jersey, or a signature on some photo they’ve dug up online from 5 years ago!” he said to ProVéloPassion. “How the old French boys can suss out the internet and track down random pics that even I don’t remember beats me!”

And his admirers want even more of him. They have pled with Jack’s Endura teammates and anyone who will listen to persuade Jack to sign up on Twitter. He feels pretty strongly about not signing up, though. He told ProVéloPassion, “Sorry, I won’t be getting a Twitter account. I hate the thing.” Apparently there won’t be too much disappointment at this news in the New Zealand cycling world. When ProVéloPassion asked him how he would compare New Zealand fans to those from the U.S. and Europe, Jack said, “There are none in New Zealand.”  Surely he didn’t mean to leave out his dad, the rest of his family, and Alice?

Are there really no cycling fans in New Zealand? (Partners Life - Champion System rider, Cycling Southland Facebook photo, 2011 Tour of Southland)

Racing at the UCI World Championships has also raised Jack’s visibility. He represented New Zealand in the time trial race in 2010 and 2011. In the 2011 UCI Road World Championships, he competed in the road race for the first time. “I was really excited to ride my first Road Worlds, especially in support of Julian and Greg on a course which suited our strengths,” he said to ProVéloPassion. “With 6 laps to go though we all got caught up in a tangle on a particularly narrow section of the 14km circuit. The crash blocked the course, split the field, and from then on it was pretty much game over. I buried myself for 2 or 3 laps trying to chase back on, but the race was over as GB [Great Britain] were setting a hard tempo at the front reeling in the break. Still, the whole experience was awesome. Bring on next year!”

Jack Bauer in the 2011 World TT Championships (Andreas Otto photo)

New Zealand and Jack fared better in the World Championships time trial race this year where he finished 19th and Jesse Sergent placed 18th. “The Worlds was an awesome experience riding the TT in central Copenhagen especially,” he told ProVéloPassion. “Painful! But a lot of fun at the same time. I hadn’t expected to ride the TT at Worlds this year, but since it fell on a Wednesday with the road race not taking place ‘til Sunday it worked out well.”

Jack hadn’t expected to ride the time trial at the 2010 Worlds either. That race scored as his reply to the ProVéloPassion question about the worst thing that’s happened to him during his cycling career: “Probably trying to ride the TT at the Worlds last year in Melbourne after getting the call up last minute – and flying straight from London to Oz. I arrived the day before race day and felt like death warmed up…with cankles! Not the best way to start a race, and I’m still not completely sure how I stayed awake on that start ramp…” Jack managed it pretty well, because he finished 23rd.

Right now Jack’s fans anticipate his announcement regarding the team he will ride for in 2012. While he acknowledges that Endura Racing is a great team, he’s made it clear in the press since 2009 that he yearns to ride for a Pro Tour team.  He’s also looking ahead to the New Zealand championships in January, 2012. And until then, as he told VeloNation in a recent interview, “I’ll also ride a few races with my dad, for fun.”

Jack and Hans Bauer (Jack Bauer photo)

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Used with permission, Parapara Inlet Photograph by Jock Phillips, Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, © Crown Copyright 2005- 2011 Ministry for Culture and Heritage, New Zealand. The Parapara Inlet is located in the Golden Bay Area near Collingwood.

Used with permission, Jack and Hans Bauer photo.

Thanks to Melissa German, Roxanne King, and Tracie Robinson for their suggestions regarding questions for this interview, and to Martin Steele of Endura for his assistance.

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