After four months of fundraising, planning and work, the pedals at Takapau School in Central Hawke's Bay are finally turning.

Among the first to turn a wheel at one of the school's three purpose-built cycling tracks were the Bay's leading professional mountain bike riders Brook MacDonald from Napier and George Brannigan of Havelock North.

Both were delighted to make the time in their busy schedules to be part of the guest list for yesterday's big opening.

"Really happy to be part of it," Mr Brannigan said.


"What really surprised us was that this is such a small community yet they have been able to go and do this - it's awesome."

Takapau School is the first in Central Hawke's Bay to become part of the Bikes in Schools project and the 13th in the Bay. Creating its own specialised cycling tracks came as the result of a determined fundraising drive by the community to gather together the $50,000 needed.

Three tracks were designed and created - a skills track, a pump track and a main 250m track for general riding.

As well as the tracks the fundraising also resulted in 50 new bikes being assembled in the racks, along with 100 safety helmets.

Some of the youngsters did not have a bike of their own so their delight was obvious when it came time to buckle up and pedal off.

"Everyone gets the chance to ride," principal Alec Thomson said.

"It keeps them active, engaged and involved."

The school is running bicycle safety programmes for the 120 pupils.


"What's happening in Hawke's Bay is that there are more and more bike trails opening up, so when they are older these children can use those trails and ride them safely."

He praised the community of Takapau for "pulling together" to make the project work.

There was also input from businesses like Hatuma Lime which donated the lime surface material for the tracks.

Aaron Topp, Hatuma Lime's managing director, and a parent, said it was an asset the whole community could be proud of.

"There has been a huge commitment by the whole Takapau community and it will now be a great asset for everyone to enjoy," he said.

"Biking gives children a lot of confidence and this cycle track will motivate students and their families and encourage more participation in cycling."

Mr Brannigan said it was great to see the youngsters having a fun and fitness-fuelling time.

"It's a great opportunity for kids to get a good head start on bikes and start from the grass roots level at school," he said.

"It was exciting to be able to open the track and see the excitement among the children."

When it came time for him and Mr MacDonald to take to the track they did so with a couple of the school's most competitive young pedalers - Taylor Topp and Guy Von Dadelszen.

And they were impressed.

"They had some heats earlier and they picked out the two fastest and Brook and I raced them."

The youngsters were allowed a half-a-lap start over the world-class professional pairing who ride for the Trek World Racing Team, and they won.

"Hey, they were pretty good," Mr Brannigan said.

Another who took to the main track was Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Peter Butler who earlier officially cut the ribbon to open the facility.

"He needed some encouragement though," Mr Thomson said.

"But he went out and had a go."

Bikes in Schools director, Paul McArdle, said part of the Bikes in Schools vision in Hawke's Bay was to get 3000 more children participating.

"Takapau School is leading the way and is a fabulous model for the Bikes in Schools programme. I would encourage other Hawke's Bay schools to come and take a look at what Takapau have achieved," he said. "They are supporting the vision to provide regular and equal access to bikes and bike tracks for all children."