The pedals are well and truly ready to roll as the first wheels of the great Hawke's Bay Summer Cycling Carnival hit the road this morning. "It's been a lot of work and a lot of hours but we are getting there," Napier City Council Events Manager Kevin Murphy said yesterday.

"We are ticking the list of things off."

While not a public event the Big Save Elite Road National Championships' opening "event" took place last night as a full riders and management briefing meeting was held at the War Memorial Conference Centre.

This morning, however, saw the first wheels turn, and it was a small group of not-so-competitive cyclists who kicked the great carnival off by having a crack at the 23km time trial course the Elite competitors would later go hard at.


The Traffic Design Group Flying Lap was scheduled to get under way at 9am.

The time trial course is a familiar one for local cyclists who can often be seen on stretches of the course at all times of the year - starting from the Church Road Winery then along Puketapu Rd, on to Puketitri Rd and back to Church Rd.

Then at 10am the Elite Women class riders will set off, at two-minute intervals.

Race director Ivan Aplin said the womens' times would likely be around 30 minutes, while the Elite Men riders, who have an additional 17km course tacked to their time trials which start at noon, were likely to wrap it up around the 50-minute mark.

The U23 class riders will embark at 11am.

For locals, one to watch in the U23 class will be 19-year-old Regan Gough from Waipukurau who has tasted international success in individual and team pursuit events - gaining the sort of results which saw him pick up the Halberg Emerging Talent Award.

Tomorrow, starting at 10am at the War Memorial Conference Centre, the country's best women riders take on the daunting Napier Hill and nearby rural road course - 117km all up.

On Sunday, with a 9am start, the men take on 180km of the course.

Mr Murphy said the feedback from riders who had taken a look at the layout was very good.

"What we have been hearing is that it is going to be challenging and that they are looking forward to it."

That approach had been reflected in the number of competitors taking part across the three Elite classes.

"We have 120 all up and that is about 20 percent up on Christchurch last year," Mr Aplin said.

"Logistically it has been a very challenging course to plan because in Christchurch they took it to the suburbs - we've taken it to the city."

The women were likely to average about 33km/h for the big event and top runners should take about 220 minutes to complete it.

The men are likely to average 39km/h and finish around 270 minutes after getting the starter's signal.

The hill section would be spectacular Mr Aplin said, and included a Fulton Hogan King of the Mountain stretch around Spencer Rd.

Women riders will do 4.4 laps of the hill course and men 7.4 laps before moving out on to the rural stretch before taking on the final dash home through Pandora, along Battery and Breakwater Rds to the finish line near the conference centre.

A drive through Napier and its outskirts yesterday revealed that it was not too difficult to play 'spot the cyclist'.

All ages were out in the sun, and every now and then a competitively-attired and equipped cyclist could be spotted.

Through until January 17 that sort of pedalling landscape is set to continue, both competitively and recreationally.

For imaginative youngsters, Sunday will see the Big Save Dress Your Bike Competition staged between 11.30am and 12.30pm at the War Memorial Conference Centre, with a couple of brand new Avanti bikes up for prizewinning grabs.