The first New Zealander to clinch an Olympic gold medal in cycling Sarah Ulmer hasn't lost her passion for a code to the extent she's going to be here today to help take the province back to the halcyon days.

"The Bay is such an awesome place to ride — whatever type of riding," says Ulmer who will be the guest speaker at the Hawke's Bay Ramblers Cycling Club annual dinner and prize giving night at the Havelock North Community Centre in Hastings from 6pm.

"Whether you're a recreational cyclist using the amazing road routes or a commuter with the wicked infrastructure you guys now have over there to get around by bike, or someone wanting to use the trails with the family — you've got so many options," says the 43-year-old from Cambridge who will be here with with husband Brendon Cameron and their two daughters. Hastings mayor Sandra Hazelhurst and husband Mark also will attend.

Ramblers club spokeswoman Marg Porter says the code is going through testing times because they need to post an $850 levy each Saturday to meet the cost of racing in the district.

Advertisement

Club chairman Steve Drake, who took office in April from Don Kennedy, says Supervision Sports is employed to ensure safety for riders and motorists in accordance with council regulations.

"It has become a challenge financially as we need to get 85 riders to break even," says Drake of a club which has been in existence since 1896 and will dedicate a corner of the hall tonight to promote the club's history with photographs, newspaper and magazine articles among other artefacts.

Ulmer, who won in the 3km individual pursuit at the 2004 Athens Olympics and had smashed the world record, says she loves the Bay because it provides a great excuse to talk cycling and have a family weekend.

The Ulmers hope to take to the trails, via some wineries, today.

"The kids are dying to go back to the best scooter park in the country in Napier, they tell me."

Born in Auckland, Ulmer followed on the well-trodden cycling path of her grandfather, Ron Ulmer, who was a New Zealand track representative at the 1938 British Empire Games. Her father, Gary, was also a national road and track champion.

However, she says her daughters are into countless outdoor activities but there's no indications they'll add to the illustrious chapters of a family tradition at the higher echelons.

"We drag them around loads of trails whenever we get to different parts of New Zealand, with varying levels of enthusiasm [jet plane bribes are welcomed]," says Ulmer.

Advertisement

"I have no idea where they'll end up — in or out of sport — but as long as they're keen to continue to keep moving when they get older [like their 82-year-old Poppa still is), I'll be happy,"

While she's not an official cycling ambassador any more, she tends to work in Cambridge on its cycling infrastructure and encouraging people to go out for any form of rides ("No Lycra required.").

"Our kids ride to school, I ride to work [and everywhere else] and think it's such a good way to get around."

Ulmer, who once held the Olympic, Commonwealth and World Championship pursuit crowns after 2004, juxtaposes her hometown with the benefits the Bay provides to its inhabitants.

Marg Porter is training for the nationals in Central Hawke's Bay early next year and says the Ramblers Cycling Club is bouncing back to its halcyon days again. Photo / File
Marg Porter is training for the nationals in Central Hawke's Bay early next year and says the Ramblers Cycling Club is bouncing back to its halcyon days again. Photo / File

Porter, who has competed in her heyday against Ulmer at the nationals, is delighted to have enticed the multiple Halberg supreme and sportswoman awards winner here tonight.

"We want her to talk about her life as a professional cyclist and the uniqueness of being coached by her partner, Brendon," says the duty nurse manager at HB Regional Hospital in Hastings who is back training as a competitor for the 50-54 age-group grade of the nationals to be staged in Central Hawke's Bay early next year.

The club is trying to establish team racing — such as the Clock Tower, Hastings Sunday Brunch and The Hub — on Saturdays to spice it up for individuals. It's the brainchild of Supervision Sports owner Ken McKenzie.

Porter says Ulmer will be able to shed some light on how to lure youngsters into cycling and keep them there.

She says Drake is a formidable force for a club trying to create an e-bike division, too.

The Bay riders who won medals at the nationals in Timaru in April will be acknowledged at the function among other awards.

They include Mary Cullen (silver, 65-69 women), Carol McCullum (bronze/silver 55-59 women), Lindsay Sheppard (gold) time-trial 60-64 men), Claire Tattersfield (gold U17 boys' road race, silver time-trial) and Alana Foster (silver, elite women's time-trial).

Porter says the achievements of Sheppard and Tattersfield are "remarkable", especially the latter who was in a field of 35.