Another tribute for Doug.
I sit at a keyboard located in a back office during a night shift … all in far away West Australia… I am looking at a blurry and ageing image of a young cyclist crossing a finish line. He is holding his hands high in the air… It is a look back in time …just how far back it is hard to say now … almost 40 years perhaps.
The image is just a fuzzy photo taken years before the photographer had access to a quality camera and still some decades before the digital images that we know today. Yet I close my eyes and see a clearer image… because my image is not of the picture but of the actual moment. Yes I was there on that day so very long ago now … and just a kid myself as I watched in awe of this young sporting superstar… The fuzzy image is a 16 year old Doug Garley. Doug Garley circa 1971, fresh out of the under-16 ranks, and this “kid” had just knocked off top senior riders like Gary Fromhold and Lenny Hammond, not to mention similar-age superstar and future legend David Allan.
To anyone reading today, these names will be meaningless… But perhaps a year before the photo was taken, the then 15-year-old Doug Garley was already making a hell of a big impression… not necessarily with race wins but with consistent rides in the under 16 scratch bunch, although Doug did not have the big sprint of either the all-time King of the Under 16 era in Chris Boone, or of his top lieutenant David Allan.
Doug was the guy both Boone and Allan recognized as “scary” strong. And neither one of the “Chris an’ Dumps*” race winning juggernaut ever discounted Doug Garley, particularly around Blackburn’s tough and punishing Wandin North circuit.
And I reckon Chris Boone could still tell a few stories of Doug’s flashes of brilliance.
I have great memories of the Blackburn Cycling Club’s under 16 super era… riders like Chris Boone, David Allan, Doug Garley, Ken Boyer, Alan Peoples, Colin Lane… all just brilliant young riders. And all of them could blitz that Wandin North circuit, mostly choosing to ride the single-gear 81-inch limit of the day.
When Chris, David and Doug reached in turn their 16th birthdays, they, although still juniors (as under 18 year olds) were nonetheless immediately required to race in with the senior riders. With the single restricted gears just a memory, it was the mark of their ability that they all took to the geared machines with results that hallmarked what us younger riders already knew, that they indeed had TRUE athletic brilliance. Doug, like Chris and David, immediately mixed right in with the top seniors of the day, as evidenced by my brother Malcolm’s picture.
I can only wonder what the seniors felt about the potential of this group of still athletically under-developed yet amazingly gifted “Superkids” who arrived onto their “A” grade podiums.
Despite his great gift … life and youth beckoned, and Doug Garley would drift from the sport … Years later he showed up in a TV ad with a Holden car he had restored. The older Holden car no doubt benefited from Doug’s dedication to the task. Then some unknown time later, Doug started to turn up at races once again… No such thing as an ex-bike rider, Dad would say.
And as suddenly as he had left the cycling world, Doug Garley, one of the great “Superkids” from years before, was again back in the bunch.
To me Doug never reached his true adult potential. In my own estimation Doug will always remain a “what if” to the sport. I can see now that during his second visit to the sport, Doug balanced his life between family, work and sport, and like so many others he perhaps never again had either the time to devote to cycling, or that wonderful, carefree, less complex life that his first youth had offered.
Yet still Doug was still a talented “A” grade rider for many more of his racing years…
But standing on that road side so long ago, I was one of the lucky few that saw Doug Garley in the sunrise of a career that could have in another time – like right now 2012… this time – have led him into the teams of Europe and a sporting life of wider fame. Simply put, Doug Garley had a mountain of potential.
I have always had a great respect for the honest sporting assessment of long time cycling follower Bob Farley… If anyone is in any doubt at all of my estimation of Doug… then by all means check in with Bob Farley… and I have not seen or spoken to Bob Farley for almost 20 years , but I’d still bet that Bob would say the same of Doug.
So there is nothing more that can be said. If you have a million candles in a room and put out just one, then the room is darker for it… Doug is gone and the world is less for it…
Rest in Peace Doug … For all the years past and all the years to come you, shall always have my utmost respect… as both a super cyclist, and, as testified by all who knew you… a wonderful human being.
Rest in Peace David Allan.
Rest in Peace Colin Lane.
Rest in Peace Doug Garley.
Postscript: “Chris an’ Dumps” – “Dumps” was the childhood nickname of David Allan, and it stuck with him for all of his life.
Not sure if it was Doug’s Mum or Stan Dunton’s Mum who recalled to my Mother at one time about how Doug’s bedroom wardrobe had all his bike clothes hanging up, and all the rest of his clothes on the floor.
Sincere condolences: Gordon Hayes / Perth West Australia.