Fifty years ago this year, Ashburton cyclist Paul Wylie won the century-old Round the Mountain race in Taranaki and the fastest time in the 100-Mile North Island Championship.
He became the youngest rider ever to achieve the double honour in any professional mountain race.
And his record has never been beaten.
Paul may have long since given up competitive racing but still enjoys riding and is humble about his record race. He had an impressive racing career competing in national competitions as well as cycling seasons in Australia. He rode with some well-known cycling characters, among them Mid Canterbury riders Jim Tate, Arnold Price, Graeme Moore and Brian Roulston and competed in top and local events, many which are still raced today including the Peach Cup and Arnst Cup.
Paul has kept a personal scrapbook of his riding dating back to a handwritten receipt for the first racing bike he ever owned.
It was a Rudge racing cycle purchased off Robin Reeves on November 22, 1968 for the sum of $18.
The scrapbook’s oldest newspaper clipping notes a “young Paul Wylie” who placed second against John Shimmin in the Skilling Cup. There are scores of articles from around the country of his achievements.
These days Paul is more often on his mountain bike, than road bike, due to increased road traffic and driver indifference.
The 69-year-old was just 19 when, on September 25, 1971, he sprinted from the four-minute break mark and went on to narrowly beat Timaru riders Ross Currie and Geoff Lienart. He took line honours with a time of 4 hours 31 minutes and 5 seconds.
In doing so Paul, who was an office clerk at the time, won the 160km professional race and set the fastest time in the 100-mile North Island Championship. He won $200, and trophies worth $300.
His accolade is in Ian Gray’s book, Round the Mountain, 100 years of a cycling classic. Although Paul’s age is recorded as aged 17.
The following year Paul placed second. The race was also won by fellow Ashburton rider Graeme Moore in 1973. Moore won the professional race from the break mark of seven minutes and finished on a near-flat front tyre with a time of 4h 17m 30sec.