The Olympics, World Championship medals, six-day events, European truck driving and Newcastle oil rigs were all part of Ron Baensch’s “adventure-filled life”.
Long-time Adamstown-based cyclist Baensch, who finished fourth in the 1000-metre sprint at the 1960 Games, died on Thursday after a short battle with illness. He was 78.
“He’s had an adventure-filled life,” Baensch’s younger brother Kevin said.
Making the Australian squad for Rome 57 years ago was a special moment for Baensch’s family and a personal turning point.
“That was a great moment for us and a turning point in his life too,” Kevin said.
“It put him on the international scene of cycling and that’s where he spent the rest of his career in Europe.”
For the next decade Baensch raced overseas on two wheels and collected four World Championship medals – bronze in the 1961 amateur and three, including two silver, in the professional ranks from 1964 to 1966.
To make money while away he contested various competitions, including six-day events that featured some 18-hour riding days.
Once retired from the sport Baensch picked up a job truck driving in Sweden that took him from the Arctic Cricle down to Greece and across to Portugal.
Upon his return Down Under in 1974 he gained employment on a Newcastle oil rig and settled in the region.
Baensch was part of the old Newcastle League Cycle Club and won his last local race in 1980. He is remembered fondly by Cessnock veteran Clyde Marshall.
“He came up to me and said do this son,” Marshall said. “He was a great rider, but always treated you with that respect.”
Baensch helped mentor Novocastrian Anthony Peden, who now coaches the New Zealand national team.
Up until very recently he continued to ride socially at Merewether’s Townson Oval twice a week.
Baensch, who was the eldest of four Melbourne-born brothers, is survived by long-time partner Janelle and two stepchildren – Kristen and Grant.
His funeral service will be held at Lake Macquarie Memorial Park in Ryhope from noon on Friday.