Cycling is growing in popularity in Whanganui and with it the city's organisation behind the sport is adapting to open it up to more people.
Reporter Jacob McSweeny got on his bike to talk to some of the city's leading cycling figures about where the two-wheeled activity is headed.
On a warm spring afternoon along a rural road on the outskirts of Whanganui rattles, clicks and the swishing of bicycles can be heard.
The road is lined with cones and cyclists in lycra are riding up and down, warming up for a race that is about to begin.
An old church sits at the entry to the road and large poplar trees shade the cyclists from the sun.
This could be France or Belgium. It is a picturesque country scene.
"We'll have a briefing here at five-to, a spot-prize draw and then we'll get under way bang on six," Cath Cheatley, who is organising the race, says to one of the entrants.
A former road racing pro herself, Cath now behind the scenes taking payments from participants and her helpers are handing back numbers from the back of a van for cyclists to wear.
"These [numbers] are flash because we've just upgraded, we used to have the pins," Cheatley says.
There is a mix of about 40 participants here - some to give it a go for a first or second time, some are high school kids from as far as Marton and others are looking very serious, they're here to win.
This is the Summer Series - a road race organised by Cycling Whanganui.
"This will be our third summer doing it," Cath said.
These races used to be on the weekend but they worked out a weekday evening was going to fit in a lot better with participants' busy schedules.
"You're done and dusted by seven [o'clock]," Cath said.
"Families can come along, the kids can ride at the same time."
One cyclist registering with Cheatley pipes up about last week's conditions.
"If only it wasn't so windy out here," he said.
"It's not bad, it's just that when you do a block you're getting hit by all directions. We had a couple of rowers in there and it was my first race for years."
Conditions do need to be good, Cheatley says, pointing out they cancelled in a previous week because of "hurricane-like" winds.
Another cyclist here is Paul Clareburt.
"I just love riding my bike," he says.
Clareburt only picked up cycling again a couple of years ago.
"About 30 odd years ago I had a really bad motorcycle accident and damaged my neck quite severely.
"My surgeon told me the position on a bicycle would be no good for me and I couldn't ride a bicycle anymore."
He got sick of sitting on the couch and not being able to exercise.
"I thought 'screw it' and got another bicycle. Haven't looked back."
He said he wished more people cycled - especially to replace short car trips - and that drivers would be more conscious of cyclists.
Cath Cheatley said the Summer Series was a good training exercise for people entering big events, whether they were cyclists or had come from other sports.
"It gives you a bit of skill in riding with other people," Cath said.
"We've had a lot of triathletes do it because it just gives them that little bit higher-level intensity."
A couple of rowers had been turning up and using it as a form of cross training.
"They're always solid on their bikes," Cath says, laughing.
The riders get a briefing before the senior group, expected to do two laps of the 11km circuit, assembles at the start line and gets the green light.
They all take off in one large peloton at a decent speed approaching 40km/h.
The youth riders leave about a minute later and will do one lap of the circuit.
Cycling Whanganui president Ian Murphy is in the thick of it, with a hi-vis vest on and a flag in one hand.
He's shepherding riders through the first lap and corner.
Murphy said the organisation hoped events like these will get more people - particularly younger people - into cycling.
"Trends around cycling are changing.
"There is a wide range of activities that you can take part in - mountainbiking, BMX, road, track and we as an organisation, while having a predominant interest in road and track, certainly endorse ... kids to take part in all those types of activity."
Cycling Whanganui had historically been more interested in the competitive side of cycling.
That has now changed, Murphy said, and the organisation was focused on getting more kids into cycling, with more awareness of the cost barrier.
Bikes, helmets and other kit can cost thousands of dollars.
Murphy said Cycling Whanganui was trying to defuse the need for the latest fancy gear and it would lend stuff to youngsters keen to get into the sport.
Murphy has even lent out an old bike of his to a young man who was starting out in cycling.
"Just to get out there and have a go and give kids a chance to see whether they enjoy it.
"If they do then we can support that and if it's not for them, then they know without having had them or their parents invest heavily in time, money or effort to realise that."
The key was to give young people an opportunity to develop their cycling at events like the Summer Series, without the need to feel pressure to race competitively "everywhere and all the time".
"We've always known there were plenty of kids out there who want to ride, we just haven't given them the focus and the attention that they needed and the support they deserved."
A big part of encouraging kids into cycling is word-of-mouth, Murphy said.
"You don't need to be in the latest gear and you don't need to be good.
"There's a fear I think that if you're not good at something you can't do it. We've tried to be pretty inclusive in our summer series that we run and our youth stuff we've run through the winter."
But cycling is much more than just a sport, and the increasing number of bikes parked outside workplaces and schools showed it was growing in popularity as a form of transport in Whanganui, according to Norman Gruebsch.
Gruebsch is Whanganui District Council's leading advocate for cycling - working under the job title "active transport facilitator".
"More school-aged children are cycling and scootering to and from school now," he said.
This was testimony to ongoing investment in cycling education over the last five years through the Mā Ake Let's Go programme, Gruebsch said.
More than 7000 Whanganui students have used the cycling education package run by the council.
"Many adult commuters can be seen cycling to and from work, particularly in the warmer months of the year," he added.
To keep track of the number of cyclists around town, Gruebsch and his team at the council have a range of measures such as an annual "cordon count" as well as counting the number of bikes and scooters parked at schools in the day.
"This gives us great feedback that active transport modes are used more as popular transport options to get around our beautiful city," he said.
Gruebsch wants cycling to become one of the main forms of transport around Whanganui.
He said he hoped to see the cycleway network expand to include suburbs more distant from the city centre.
"It would be great to include in this network further destinations such as Mowhanau Beach, Fordell and Lake Wiritoa.
"In future, I hope to see cycle tourism grow much more in Whanganui ... exploring Ngā Ara Tūhono along our beautiful awa."
Recent Sport NZ surveys clearly showed greater use of cycling in general - as a mode of transport and recreation, Ian Murphy said.
He was aware the council was pushing cycling as a means of transport, with more cycling paths on offer.
"Anecdotally it's evident to me as I drive around the city and have done so over the last three or four years that there are a lot more people out riding," he said.
"That's where [Cycling Whanganui] would like to be more involved - to support people to get on bikes for a whole host of reasons."
E-bikes have opened the door to cycling to a much larger group of people who previously may have given up on riding a bike, former Olympic cycling coach Ron Cheatley said.
"E-bikes have become so popular and the good thing about them is the fact that ... for people that haven't ridden a bike since they were in school and they're now in their 60s and 70s and even older, they can now go and buy a bike and they can ride it without having to battle the winds, battle the hills.
"It has increased the popularity of cycling tenfold - it's been incredible to see."
Ron Cheatley - who has been involved in cycling for 60 years - said Whanganui was a city steeped in cycling.
There were great courses for road cycling and the city had hosted big events like the Oceania championships, the national championships - and even the junior world titles, in 1983.
But that was more because of the people involved in cycling here rather than just good facilities.
"We've had some really, really good people in the Whanganui cycling club over those years that have ended up being the top officials in New Zealand cycling."
Whanganui had produced four or five national presidents of Cycling New Zealand, Cheatley said.
And the landscape was ideal for cycling, Cheatley said.
"You can get out in the country pretty quickly.
"There's some reasonably quiet valley roads - if you go up the Longacre [Rd] valley or you go up the Matarawa valley or even up to Papaiti, past the cemetery that way. They're reasonably quiet roads."
Whanganui cyclists were lucky they didn't have to battle congestion like cyclists do in bigger cities like Auckland and Wellington, Cheatley said.
The road race on the outskirts of Whanganui ends with riders having a fast descent followed by a demanding climb.
The senior riders complete their two laps with the fastest - young Finnegan Murphy - coming in at a time of 33:49.
Riders were given a cold drink and a chance to catch up about how the race went before getting on their bikes and riding off home.