Well-known Whanganui identity Bill Main OBE has cycled his way to one of life's most valued milestones - recognitition by his peers.

While certainly not consciously chased, Main was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Sport New Zealand Sport and Recreation Awards in Wellington on Tuesday night for his services to cycling dating back to 1948.

Main was well-known for his role as building inspector for the forerunner of the now Whanganui District Council in his early working life, and of course, as father of popular Mayor Annette Main.

However, cycling was one of his life passions and Tuesday's award came as a compete surprise to Main.

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"I had to lie to him," Annette Main said yesterday.

"I knew of the award several months ago because Sport New Zealand needed background information and photographs. Lying to him was a very difficult thing for me to do and I actually apologised to him afterwards.

"The award was a complete surprise to him, and he only realized halfway through Dayle Cheatley's reading of the citation, that Dayle was describing his 70 years of commitment to New Zealand cycling. However, he took it in his stride, and made a heartfelt, although a little emotional, impromptu speech."

It was appropriate Cheatley read the citation at the awards dinner.

The former national cycling coach was born and bred in Whanganui and witnessed the majority of Main's achievements for all of his nearly 40 years.

"It was absolutely fantastic that Bill received this award and thoroughly well-deserved,' Cheatley said.

"I have known Bill all my life and witnessed first hand his input into cycling. I'm nearly 40, but that's only just over half the years he has been involved."

Main first entered the sport in 1948. He competed in the sport for over 50 years and has been heavily involved in the administration of cycling for well over 60. He has served on countless local, national, and international cycling bodies over the years.

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In the 1970's he was the prime instigator of the establishment of the New Zealand Cycling Federation and the driving force behind the formation of the Oceania Federation of Cycling — both measures which enabled New Zealand to affiliate to the UCI.

He paved the way for New Zealand's acceptance as an international force in cycling, by attending world congress meetings on his own, and often at his own expense.

At the 1980 Moscow Olympics he cut a lone figure.

The New Zealand team had stayed home as part of the boycott over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but Main had important business to attend to in Moscow. He was there to present the case for New Zealand to host the 1983 Junior World Cycling Championships. It was an event which would have a big impact on the sport in New Zealand, and he managed, on his own, to persuade the world body that the champs should be hosted in his home town of Whanganui.

Throughout these years he kept busy, qualifying as a national referee, then an International Commissaire. He served on the National Council for 19 years, was president of Cycling New Zealand for eight years, and the Secretary General of Oceania Cycling Confederation for five years. He's represented New Zealand on many event organising committees including summer Olympic games. He managed the New Zealand cycling team at multiple events including when New Zealand won its first ever World Championship — in 1990 when Karen Halliday won the points race in Japan.

In 1985 his enormous contribution to cycling was recognised when he received an OBE for services to sport, which he received with his trademark wry smile.

A builder by trade, he would offer jobs to young talented cyclists from as far afield as Tasmania, if they would come and cycle for the Whanganui club. They'd be hammer-hands in the morning and cyclists in the afternoon.

At age 60 he thought he might like to ride the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. An event which he then completed every year for the next 17 years. He's been a regular participant at the Masters Games until very recently.

"He has been a key part of the culture of excellence that has been a feature of Whanganui cycling — good organisation, skilled officials, and smart, international-class riders," Cheatley told Tuesday's award audience.

"Whanganui has had more New Zealand track championships and road championships than any other club in New Zealand. The club has a history, a culture, and a determination that the local community has what it takes, that Whanganui loves cycling and gets right behind it. A big part of that culture is thanks to our award winner tonight," Cheatley said.

Main is patron and a Life Member of the Wanganui Cycling Club, a Life Member of Cycling NZ Road and Track, and also a Life Member of Cycling New Zealand Schools.

In typical Bill Main fashion, the man of few words described his Lifetime Achievement Award as "humbling".

"I had no idea, so it was quite surprising."

"I'm quite used to travelling with Annette, so I thought nothing of going to an award night with her. But when they called me up I was humbled and surprised something like this had happened after all these years."

Main said he rated his time on the world governing body UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) and being instrumental in bringing the 1983 Junior World Cycling Championships to Whanganui among his major achievements.

"I guess you can't get much higher than being on the world body and it was a great pleasure helping to bring the world junior championships to Whanganui."

Turning 89 in November, Main has parked up his bike preferring Shanks' Pony in his twilight years.

"Cycling is not worth the risk at my age now. I've taken up walking now," Main said.