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  • Harry Says “Just get on my wheel and you will be alright!”
  • Harry Says “Put in an extra loop down the coast road”
  • Harry Says “Ride your bike!”
  • Harry Says “Just a steady 2 to 3 hours”

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Harry Middleton (1938-1998)

Harry’s Record

Harry Middleton started cycling the way he meant to carry on, fast. He joined the East Liverpool Wheelers when he was 16, and in that first year, he rode a 1-3-48 for 25 miles. Three years later he went under the hour with a 58-31, with an under 2 hours 50 miler (1-56- 39) in the same year.

With a growing reputation as a fast man, he decided to have a year in France, to see if he could make a breakthrough on the continent. He was 20. As he told me much later, with some chagrin, “We used to batter them (the French riders) in training, but when it came to race day, they seemed to have something extra.” Not wishing to pursue that route to speed, he returned home after a year.

Back home he continued racing, putting in impressive performances. In 1961 he won the prestigious Anfield 100, with an event record (4-13-56). Then, in 1962, he was 8th in the British Best All Rounder (BBAR), a year round competition to find the best time triallers over 50 miles, 100 miles and 12 hours. He joined the Kirkby CC, coached by Eddie Soens, and went on to win the Anfield 100 again in 1964.

In 1980, at the age of 42, he was 4th in the BBAR, not far behind Ian Cammish and John Woodburn, two greats of road time trialling. Harry’s average speed for the three disciplines was just over 25 mph.

Harry kept going until the end, regularly riding 25 mile time trials under the hour. In his last year, when he was 60, he recorded a 56-43 for 25 miles, a 1-57-51 for 50 miles and, in his last event, a 10, he posted 22-14. He carried on being a fast man until the very end.

Chris Boardman/North Wirral Velo-Kodak

In 1992 Chris Boardman won the Gold medal for the individual pursuit at the Barcelona Olympic Games. As a friend and manager, Harry worked with Chris to try to get sponsorship. It was through Harry that the link with Kodak was made, which enabled Chris to achieve his vision for the North Wirral Velo-Kodak team.

The team meant that Chris could continue to race as an amateur in 1993, and keep around some of the key riders from the British Olympic team. They were coached by the sports scientist who had been working with Chris, Peter Keen. Peter would later go on to be an essential part of the successful development of British cycling.

In 1993 the team was dominant in all types of racing, on the road, time trials and the track. Chris won the Tour of Lancs, the National 25, and the individual pursuit at the National Track Championships. The team was very successful, winning races, in all disciplines, across the UK.

In July of that year, Chris broke the hour record in Bordeaux, which launched his professional career.

Chris turned professional with Gan, at the end of that year: he and Harry continued to work together to manage the North Wirral Velo - Kodak team. The team continued for another 4 years, guided on the road by Pete Longbottom, winning lots of races and continuing to give opportunities for riders to progress. In 1994, the team provided most of the riders for the British team at the Victoria, Canada, Commonwealth Games.

A number of riders who rode for the team went on to make significant contributions to cycling. Chris Newton and Paul Manning both went on to win Olympic medals, and are now national coaches with the British cycling track squad. Matt Stephens, a great road racer, famously finished the Giro, after fighting off the ambulance men, who wanted him to quit. He is now a regular on the Cycle Show on ITV4.

Harry was justly proud of what the team achieved.

Harry’s passion for cycling

Harry lived and breathed cycling every day of his life. He enjoyed every aspect of it, from racing, training, as a spectator, coffee runs, driving the car behind the bunch, helping riders develop. But most of all, he enjoyed having others share his passion. It’s a great sport.

As Harry said, “just ride your Bike.”


Bill Warren, November 2013