ARARAT - Ron Howlett recently notched up 90 years of age and he has notched up nearly as many as the lap counter at the Ararat Cycling Club.
Ron began the volunteer job of turning the dials back in the late 1960s.
"When my step son was a lad of 14 or so he came to me and said some boys and I want a hand to start up a bike club," he said.
"I said I would help out and that is what I did. I'm the only foundation member left in the Ararat Cycling Club.
"One of the objectives is to have children riding at a young age, from even as young as six."
In his early years in Ararat Ron spent a lot of time outdoors catching rabbits or exploring bushland and when he was old enough joined the army during the second World War being stationed in Townsville as an army cook.
Following his army service Ron returned to Ararat to work as a pub cook and roustabout on various properties in the area.
The call of the outdoors was always strong and Ron joined the Lands Department moving down into the Otways including stints in Lorne and Beach Forest.
On returning to Ararat he spent many hours tending his gardens until in 1968 Ron attended a meeting called to revive what had been the Ararat Amateur Cycling Club, and so began his long involvement with the club.
Long time friend and Ararat Cycling Club member Mick Thornbury said Ron has shown tremendous commitment to the club for more than five decades.
"Ron saw an opportunity for local children to enjoy a healthy sporting environment in a family sport," he said.
"A tireless worker and generous benefactor, Ron rarely missed a working bee, race or function as the club set about building the best outdoor cycling venue in the state.
"With the opening of the velodrome he took on the job of lap steward and still holds this position some 40 years later with no thoughts of retirement.
"Over his time at the club he has been an inspiration to riders and members, and his tales of his early working days along with his wicked sense of humour have kept members entertained on race days and at social functions."
Such is Ron's standing within the Ararat cycling community that the club named the entrance road to the velodrome in his honour - Howlett Drive.
Ron, who has held the position as president of the Ararat Cycling Club and is a life member, is humble and talk downs his part and impact on the club.
"I'm only a small part of the effort and it gives me a bit of an interest," he said.
"I've never ridden or cycled myself but my family has always been involved."
The club stalwart said he has seen his fair share of riders over the years with many of the carnivals showcasing local talent and from further afield.
“We had the Malaysian track cycling team this year (at the Ararat Classic Cycling Carnival), so that was a really good get. We’ve also had a lot of really good bike riders including Shane Kelly.
“Anyone who wants to ride can and it isn’t necessarily the capacity of the rider.
“I’m 90 so I’m starting to slow down a bit but it still gives me an interest and is something I enjoy doing.”
Away from the cycling club Ron is also a life member of the Probus Club and has received the Alan J Holding award, the highest honour the local Lions Club can bestow a member for his work with young people.
Mr Thornbury said Ron shows great passion in all his hobbies, but his greatest love is family and friends.
“He still likes to potter around in his garden too and with his great love of family attends all parties and get togethers, imparting words of wisdom to the younger generation,” he said.
“Ron Howlett is a living treasure.”