St Kentigern students flock to time trial series renowned as gateway to greater things.
On any given Sunday morning during the winter time trial series, around $2 million worth of bikes and equipment is on the starting line. It is a high price to be involved but given the results of New Zealand cyclists internationally many see it as money well spent.
The popular time trials, for a long time ridden on the Auckland Waterfront but these days on a seemingly safer circuit near the international airport, have launched many careers for New Zealand's male and female riders.
While the top riders, or at least their parents, can shell out up to $10,000 for bikes, helmets, racing suits and wind-trainers, many get by for less but it is a sport which does not come cheap.
Rick Faulding, who heads the cycling programme at St Kentigern College acknowledges it is a sport with inherent costs but says the rewards can be worth it, pointing to the number of competitors who go on to make their mark at the national secondary schools individual championships, national and, ultimately, international level.
"The time trials are a good starting point," said Faulding who was a race director in the early years of the New Zealand Ironman Championship. He said the time trials are a slick operation led by Troy Campbell, with support from around 50 volunteers.
"While the waterfront was a popular course, the move to Mangere has been a good one.
"The course is a very honest test and more technical than the waterfront which had just the one u-turn on the 16km out-and-back course. Even though the road at Pavilion Drive is not closed, there is far less traffic."
In the junior boys section, St Kentigern has 11 of the 44 teams. Each team has four riders with the third to finish counting. In the senior grades the fourth finisher in teams of five counts.
"We have a big programme here at St Kentigern," said Faulding. "The kids love it. Most average about two hours a day training with Friday usually the rest day. Finding roads to train on is not easy but we usually go out around Musick Point at Bucklands Beach. Either I or my co-coach Ben Simpson follow on a motorbike or in a car so they are under supervision at all times."
Faulding is also assisted by a number of people in coaching the huge number of riders with parent Marty McCullough and staff member David Graham looking after the junior boys from the C team down. The girls' programme is run by husband and wife Patrick and Tammy Harvey.
Faulding says that while cycling and triathlon are not among the sports offering scholarships at the school, there is plenty of interest in them with those trying triathlon in the first term encouraged to continue cycling through the winter.
After three rounds - the fourth is on Sunday - St Kentigern lead the senior boys and senior girls with both teams unbeaten.
Led by Rogie Tomlinson-Gillies, the boy's team of Sam Dakin, Liam Ward, Liam Foster and Fraser Macdonald are clear leaders from AGS who lost ground in the last round when they had a crash and two ambulances had to be called to the scene.
The girl's team, led by Cass Harvey, with Mikayla Harvey, Josie Clow, Maddie Evans and Chloe Simpson, recorded the fastest time of the year in round two.
Faulding has presented the James Faulding Memorial Trophy to the St Kentigern team three times. The trophy was donated by Faulding and his wife in memory of their son James who died as the result of a training accident in Dunedin in 2001.
Whether presenting the trophy - to the team recording the fastest time during the series each year - to AGS, where James rode in their A team from 1995-1997 - or St Kentigern, it is a timely reminder of the dangers cyclists sometimes face.