Harrison Scales does nothing by halves. At only 20 years old, this St. Augustine native tackles everything he does with fervor and a definite purpose. I watched in amazement as he ate like it was his first meal in a month. I asked him if he always eats this way, and he could only nod his head — he was too busy eating!
Harrison’s voracious appetite is brought on by a constant need to replace the energy he expends on his daily 40 and 50-mile bike rides. Harrison’s love of cycling started when he was 15 and got into BMX bikes. Then a friend, Levi, introduced him to the world of non-BMX cycling when he gave him a 1970s Schwinn bike. Harrison began riding laps through downtown St. Augustine on that free bike and his need for speed was born.
Five years and about 8 bikes later, Harrison graduated from doing laps downtown to participating in group rides in the St. Augustine Shores neighborhood then riding out to Hastings on weekends. Things took a distinct turn in January 2017 when a fellow cyclist suggested Harrison enter a competition in Miami. And he won.
Since January, Harrison has won about 10 races in Florida and has no plans to slow down. So far his racing career has kept him in the state, but he hopes as he progresses through the five competitive skill levels, he will broaden his scope and move beyond Florida. The five competitive categories range from Category 5, the lowest level, to Category 1 or “domestic pro” competing nationwide. He recently jumped Category 4 and is now a Category 3. His goal? Category 1 of course.
Harrison keeps busy with constant training for cycling races, averaging 250 miles each week. This year alone he has ridden close to 10,000 miles. And that’s less than he wishes but Hurricane Irma slowed him down, requiring him to pay more attention to his business.
When he’s not riding a bike, Harrison’s riding his lawnmower, taking care of approximately 70 clients on a regular basis, and working diligently to grow his own lawn care business. His day job starts around 8 in the morning. By 5pm, he’s done with grass and switches to rubber and asphalt. As the daylight starts to fade, he hops on his carbon fiber bike and hits the roads around town.
I asked Harrison if he ever relaxes. He does. But even relaxation for him involves high energy activities. When he’s not working or riding his bike, Harrison roller blades, plays Call of Duty, and only occasionally watches TV. One thing you’ll never see Harrison watching on TV, however, is televised bike races. Why not? “They’re too boring.”
In spite of TV races being too boring, Harrison does dream of competing at a national level. His goal is simple – compete in a televised race at a world-class level, whatever that race may be. In the meantime, he focuses on the realities of his life – continuing to grow his lawn care business, save money, and one day maybe have a family.
He has no plans of ever leaving St. Augustine. Unless of course it involves riding his bike.
Photography by Brian Miller