One of the slowest riders in Te Awamutu Sports Cycling Club is fast becoming one of the more colourful and popular members with her never say die attitude both on and off her bike.

The biggest cheer of the night at the club's AGM, Annual Dinner Awards and Fundraising Auction was reserved for Jo Butler, recipient of the Personality of the Year award.

Personality of the Year Jo Butler pictured competing in the Spoken Cycles Summer Series. Photo / Arthur Uden
Personality of the Year Jo Butler pictured competing in the Spoken Cycles Summer Series. Photo / Arthur Uden

Jo is best summed up by her cycling buddy Deb Swney who had this to say about her mate to the audience.

"For two years Jo tried to get me to start riding the winter series (of club races) with her. In the end I decided to go for a training ride just to keep her quiet. Our first ride was around Kakepuku. I was nervous and I told Jo this.


"I loved our first ride together so Jo then made it her mission to get me ready to ride the winter series ... no easy task I can tell you.

"She planned our rides around the winter circuits and once or twice a week we headed out to train. We only ever did one lap of each circuit as Jo didn't want to put me off. Then during one of our Puahue rides the weather turned bad, torrential rain. This was the week Jo decided we needed to ramp it up and do two laps. I swear I had trench foot at the end of that ride.

"The winter series started and we were both in our element ... loving it. On all of our rides Jo looks after me. Jo tells me which corners are slippery, when cars are coming, when the bunch is coming and that I need to keep my line. The hills always seem to cause a problem with the only conversation being the odd grunt, splutter or very often a long line of profanities! Jo sets the speed so that I don't burn out because, apparently, we are not heading to the Olympics so there's no need to push it too hard.

"At the end of every race Jo dissects how we have done and how good or bad our times are, our speed and which sections of the course we have done particularly well on. Later in the day Jo always texts me and tells me I should be proud of myself and that we did well in the conditions.

"During one of our after race coffees Jo informed me that our goal was to try and start with E grade at the end of the summer series. I should have asked if she meant in 2019 or 2020? You've got a lot of coaching to do Jo before that happens, have you seen how fast those guys go?

"You have all passed Jo and I many, many times out on the circuits. If you ever stayed with us you would hear the constant conversation and laughter covering subjects from farming to the tour de France to New Zealand law, we have even touched on Fifty Shades of Grey!

"Before I started riding with Jo I was your average farmer. Now I am a toned athlete who rides with Olympians at the weekend. For this I salute you Jo, you are truly amazing. If it wasn't for your persistence I would never ever have started 'racing'. You are encouraging, determined, kind and understanding. You are full of fun and make us all laugh. From the bottom of my heart I thank you my friend, you truly deserve the Personality of the Year."

Club president Marc Gascoigne said it shows that if you give it a go anyone can cycle.


"These two are regularly last by a long way but keep coming and having a go and loving it," he said.

"Just shows it's not just for the guns.

"Really great to have them in the club and maybe an inspiration to have more 'not so fast' riders."