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Lucky, lucky lad

By, Alan Woodison

Harry McGarvie could well be thinking of himself when he hears the catchy Hyundai TV advert that belts out “Lucky, lucky, lucky me…

The 30-second commercial contends that … the harder you work the luckier you are in life. 

You’ll have heard the tune. It’s never off the telly with its feel-good message and a happy, smiling bloke driving off in a big four-wheel-drive motor car. 

“It’s a lucky, lucky, lucky me!
I’m a lucky son of a gun.
I work eight hours, and sleep eight hours.
That leaves eight hours for fun.”

The distinctive high-pitched chorus of the 1950 song by Evelyn Knight describes perfectly how 17-year-old Harry gets through his day. 

Lots of hard work and lots of fun combine to make the cycling-mad Symington youngster more than ready for eight hours of revigorating sleep each night. 

On the cusp of adulthood Harry wants nothing more than to get faster on the bike, finish ahead of his rivals and earn a podium place or two in the process. Oh, and pass his exams and get a good job!

In between tough training shifts on and off the road, the fifth year Prestwick Academy student is studying for his Highers. His mum and dad would like him to be a doctor: Harry wants to be a professional cyclist. There will be similar discussions along these lines in many homes with teenagers.

For the moment though, Harry is smart enough to maintain a fine balance between his passion for all kinds of cycling with the need to study and focus on his career options. But he confesses that, next year, he would love to take part in the bike race scene in Belgium, where cycling is seen as a religion and where many up-and-coming champions have cut their teeth.

“That’s the plan for 2020,” said Harry who has participarted in all the mainstream road, mountain bike and cyclocross disciplines since taking up the sport as a 10-year-old.

“My dad had done some BMX stuff and mountain biking years before and was keen to get back out on two wheels for exercise,” added Harry who has two younger brothers, Cameron, 15, and Max, 10.

“I had been playing rugby at school and did a few cross country races so I was fit enough. Dad bought us new lightweight road bikes from the shop in Kilmaurs and we promised to force each other out for a cycle every weekend.

“I didn’t need much convincing. I loved my sporty Giant bike and soon I was out with adult riders who cycled regularly or were members of cycling clubs in Ayrshire. Before long I found I could keep up with the strongest riders and go the distance with them on long days in the saddle. I loved the fresh air and the weekly challenge – and also the bike banter on group outings.”

Young Harry had taken to two-wheels just as Britain’s cycling revolution was reaching its peak. His first summer on the bike coincided with our cyclists collecting eight golds at the London Olympics and Bradley Wiggins becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France. Almost overnight the country was the new home of cycling champions. But it was only the first chapter in a success story that continued with Chris Froome winning Le Tour again and again and Sir Chris Hoy constantly edging out his track rivals to become an 11-times world champion and an Olympic legend with six gold medals.

Lycra-clad Harry had all the kit and was delighted to be part of the new golden age of cycling.

“Road cycling was the big thing if you were a bike rider then,” he recalls. “Most people had an old mountain bike or hybrid bike somewhere in the shed.  But if you wanted to be part of the scene you had to get a sporty alloy or carbon road bike with dropped handlebars.

“I started to go out on road rides with Ayr Burners Cycling Club on Saturdays. I became faster and stronger just by riding alongside the rest of them.

“Other hobbies went by the wayside as I did more and more cycling. That’s the kind of hold that cycling can have on you. I soon had a hut full of bikes and bike bits and even had a Saturday job in the bike shop.”

Harry lost interest in playing the guitar and had long consigned his Xbox to the top of the wardrobe….

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