It was with great sadness that we learnt this week about the passing of Craig Hardie, a living legend in Scottish cycling and beyond as a successful rider, true character, and popular bike shop owner, but so much more than that too.
Most of the images of Craig in our picture library feature him either wheelying, covered in mud, beaming his wonderful smile, or winning with his hands in the air – or more often than not some combination of them all.
Originally from Dalgety Bay in Fife, Craig was a long-time member and stalwart of the Dunfermline Cycling Club and enjoyed a stellar cycling career, full of limitless energy, verve and flair, enthusiasm and pure enjoyment.
He competed and won across many different disciplines; road racing, grass track, cyclocross and mountainbike and was a multiple Scottish Champion in cyclo-cross and in mountainbike, winning medals in the downhill and cross-country events. He was also successful in BMX racing and was a founding member of the Fife Cycle Speedway Club.
Many people enjoyed Craig’s riding style – panache doesn’t begin to cover it – any time he raced, and particularly at events like the Highland Games, with a good crowd ready to be entertained by wheelies, playing to the audience and exaggeratedly feigning problems before suddenly sprinting through to the win.
An accomplished mechanic, superb wheel builder and bike-fitting expert, Craig ran his cycle shop in Cairneyhill, Fife where he was well-known for helping anyone and everyone to the best of his considerable ability.
Craig was a lovely man, a best friend or mentor to many, and a great rider – but he never lost sight of his ethos: bikes are fun.
Here at VeloVeritas we offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.
A number of friends have passed us their tributes to Craig:
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“What can you say about Craig that wasn’t obvious to anyone who ever met him?
“A tenacious showman with a never-ending enthusiasm bookended with magician-like bike skills.
“I still remember the odd ‘sticky bottle’ being handed out by him from the team car and thinking ‘Jesus his hands are huge’. Lol.
“We would always laugh at the many stories when we would ride together and he was never shy of the odd wind-up mid-race and a good old heckle of encouragement.
“Craig’s passing is a sad loss to the cycling world and we will always remember how much of a fighter he truly was.”
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“Like many, I was stunned this week to read the news that Craig had passed away.
“I met him a decade or so ago at the Tour of Britain, where he was working as the mechanic for the Irish team. I had gone over to spend a few days with the squad, reporting on its progress, and got to know Craig there.
“He was in the team car during the stages, ready to leap out with spare wheels when needed, and also spent a lot of time working on the bikes before and after each day’s racing. My impression was that he was a very hard worker, very knowledgeable about bikes and very, very passionate about the sport.
“But it was more than that; he was a thoroughly decent chap, and great fun.
Craig’s sense of humour was very evident during that week, as was his warm, friendly nature. Our paths didn’t cross after that, but we were connected on social media. When he revealed news of his illness at the end of September, it was something that was very hard to believe.
“Craig received bundles of encouragement from many well-wishers and, as part of that, Cameron Mason uploaded a video of him in action. In the clip [below] Craig is seen racing around-the-houses in an ‘urban-cross’ event in Peebles, in the Scottish Borders, popping multiple wheelies, waving to the crowd, amping up their enjoyment while clearly having a ball himself. You can see tremendous skill in the clip, but also a lot of class. It perfectly encapsulates his personality.
“Although it’s ten years since we met, I’d hoped to spend a bit more time with Craig at some future race. Many others too will have hoped to cross paths with him again. He was the kind of person you hoped to bump into; decent, funny, passionate about the sport and about life itself.
“It seems so wrong that Craig’s life ended so young, but he will have motivated and encouraged so many people over the years that his energy and influence will live on in them.”
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“My heart goes out to Craig Hardie and his family.
“I will so miss your cheeky wee smile, banter and sense of humour.
“You were one of the nicest people I know and the help you gave me and especially to Andrew … we are absolutely heart-broken and will never ever forget you, xxx.”
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“My first memory of Craig is from the British Mountain Bike Series in Builth Wells, Wales, in the year 2000. I was spectating at the race and my older brother was racing in the Youth Cross Country event. Craig was racing Downhill in the Pro Elite class against the top racers. This made a big impact as he was someone from the same town as me racing at the top level. Subconsciously it broke down a barrier for me in this new sport I had discovered and I realised that maybe I could be a mountain bike racer too?
“Around a year later I met Craig for the first time. We were both racing at a cyclocross event in Callander. After the race, I was sitting with my mum, brother, and Craig too. He was really welcoming and we talked and laughed about the action of the day. From memory, he had won the senior race, and we left thinking what a nice guy Craig was.
“One stand-out performance of Craig’s was when he won the Scottish Cross Country Mountain Bike Championships in Pitmedden Forest in Fife in 2002. My club was organising the race and we had heard that Craig wanted to win his home championships badly. True to form he planned his training perfectly, peaking on race day, and won convincingly with minutes in hand over second place.
“When I was a little older, I would race against Craig in mountain bike races, cyclocross, road crits, and even grass track at the highland games. He was a fearsome competitor. Racing was his hobby outside of running his bike shop and being a father and a husband. However, when he pinned a number on he was there to race!
“He was meticulous in his preparation, as well as a fantastic bike handler with a lightning-fast finish. I’d never wish to arrive at the line with Craig as I had no chance of beating him!
“All being said it was great to see Craig at the races. He’d often say hello with a broad Fifer ‘How ya doin’, sir’ and a firm handshake.
“I will always remember Craig as a fighter who was full of energy and fiery passion. He was characterised by his professionalism, his diligence, and he was always well presented with a pristine matching bike and kit. “
He would never give up when he had set his mind on a task, and from motorbike racing to grass track, I think he became Scottish Champion at whatever he turned his hand to.
“He was a great showman and was always prepared to promote his sport and entertain spectators. He often performed best at events with a crowd and certainly developed a strong fan club over the years.
“I was deeply saddened to hear of Craig’s cancer diagnosis, but I knew he would fight with all he had.
“To learn that he had passed away earlier this week was terrible. I believe that Craig has had a positive impact on more people than he could have possibly known, and I wish that I could have told him my memories in person.
“My whole family wishes to pass on our condolences, and our thoughts are with Lynn, Lois, and all of those close to Craig.”
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“For sure Craig was a legend who inspired everyone he came in touch with.
“He will be sorely missed in the cycling community. RIP.”
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“So very, very sad to hear that Craig Hardie lost his battle with cancer.
“A bike rider, mechanic, sponsor, coach and pal.
“I’d known Craig about 20 years and we always had a laugh whenever we met up. He lived and breathed cycling and will be very sadly missed by all who knew him.
“All of our very best wishes go to Lois and Lynn. We are so very sorry for your loss and you are in our thoughts.
“Rest in peace old chum.”
Rider, mechanic, enthusiast, entertainer, champion and inspiration to many, rest in peace Craig.