Thu, Oct 5, 2023 7:13 PM

90-year-old cyclist races on


Peter Jones

A steady stream of club cyclists has ridden Marlborough’s roads over the past seven decades - most of whom have come and gone.

However, one rider, who joined Cycling Marlborough in the mid-1960s, continues to keep the wheels turning on the local scene.

Gill Painter, who turned 90 earlier this month, is still peddling his way around the region’s roads, turning out for the recent club races, where he claimed a handicap victory.

Originally from Christchurch, where he took up the sport in 1951, Gill enjoyed early success, both on the track and road. He won Canterbury titles in 1954 in pursuit and placed third in the tandem at the nationals of that year. In 1955 he won the Canterbury 100-mile champs, displaying the resilience that has been a hallmark of his riding.

He shifted to Marlborough in 1964, lured north for family reasons, and immediately joined Cycling Marlborough.

A painter and wallpaperer by trade, Gill quickly settled into the local scene, competing in both road and track events. He also rode the first Wellington-to-Auckland race, finishing 22nd and placing second in one stage of the gruelling event.

A jack-of-all-trades, Gill was also a keen and successful yacht racer, “until it got too expensive” and a handy runner.

He recalls running in a Masters Games 1500 event, where he finished fourth, just behind Kiwi running legend Bill Bailey.

Gill has won a score of cycling trophies on the local scene over the past six decades, a testament to his stamina, which he hones with three or four training rides of “between 20-50km” each week.

“It depends a bit on the weather thought,” Gill chuckles.

Gill Painter.

Although he has a long string of titles to his name, he is particularly proud of three consecutive Hester Shield wins in the five-mile race during the mid-1970s.

He points to fitness and camaraderie as the biggest benefits from the sport and the main reasons for his lengthy career, suggesting cycling has been a “huge part” of his life.

Although Gill still enjoys the competitive aspect of cycling, he suggests he may soon step back from regular competition.

“There’s no-one round about my age doing it now,” he adds with a twinkle in his eye.

That will come as no surprise to most, with his longevity becoming the stuff of club legend and unlikely to be surpassed.

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