1200 en­trants lin­ing up for tough K2 cy­cle race

Coastal News - - News - By ALISON SMITH news@coastal­news.co.nz

The race that’s been dubbed the tough­est one-day cy­cle in the south­ern hemi­sphere will be dou­bly hard for some this year when they com­plete the 192km course around the Coro­man­del Penin­sula not once, but twice.

This month’s Flight Cen­tre K2 Cy­cle race marks the 17th an­niver­sary of the event by or­gan­is­ers the Spirit of Coro­man­del Trust. It starts in Coro­man­del Town from where rid­ers cy­cle through Thames, Tairua, Whi­tianga and back to Coro­man­del.

Around 1200 en­trants are ex­pected this year from around New Zealand and over­seas, in­clud­ing dou­ble the num­ber sign­ing up to the gru­elling K4, spon­sored by power provider En­ergy Club NZ, which will see rid­ers do the 192km course twice.

“The Flight Cen­tre K2 clas­sic has 2300m of climb­ing,” says Andy Reid. “Some say it’s the tough­est one day cy­cle in the south­ern hemi­sphere so if that’s the case, the K4 has to be one of the tough­est one-day cy­cling chal­lenges on the planet.

“It’s cer­tainly not a ride for the faint hearted. Ac­tu­ally, it’s more like mad­ness. There’s 60 of them signed up this year, which is dou­ble what we had four years ago when we ran the K4.

“They start at 10pm on the Fri­day night. The win­ner fin­ished in around 12 hours last time, but some will take 20 hours. It’s a long time in the sad­dle.”

Other com­peti­tors have unique chal­lenges of their own, in­clud­ing Andy Cor­les from Te Rerenga who will be at­tempt­ing the K1 this year af­ter suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing the Ni­cholas Brown 50km Chal­lenge last year.

Andy is in a wheel­chair and also has lim­ited use of one arm af­ter a car ac­ci­dent in 2014. He cy­cled the 50km race in five hours us­ing his hand cy­cle, where, de­spite his dis­abil­ity, he did the equiv­a­lent of a push up ev­ery time he turned the hand ped­als.

Andy Reid and coor­gan­is­ers Keith and Rita Stephen­son have run the event over the years to raise funds to es­tab­lish an out­door ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre for youth on the Coro­man­del.

The trio were fi­nal­ists in the ser­vices to busi­ness cat­e­gory of the re­cent Hau­raki-coro­man­del Busi­ness Awards for 2018.

As the event ap­proaches, cy­clists are be­gin­ning to take to the Coro­man­del’s roads in train­ing and or­gan­is­ers are thank­ing driv­ers for tak­ing ex­tra care and re­quest­ing rid­ers limit group sizes to 10 or less for safety rea­sons and take care par­tic­u­larly on de­scents down the hills.

An­other new event in this year’s race is the Dirty

K — fea­tur­ing of gravel rid­ing that is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity over­seas.

“In North Amer­ica and Aus­tralia, gravel rid­ing is re­vi­tal­is­ing lit­tle towns,” ex­plains Andy. “In a place called Wagga Wagga in Aus­tralia, an event brought 2500 peo­ple to the town.”

Keith says the Coro­man­del is a great place for gravel rid­ing, which com­bines el­e­ments of road and moun­tain-bik­ing.

Among the 13 cat­e­gories for the dif­fer­ent di­vi­sions in the K2 is a “last of the sum­mer wine” cat­e­gory for 70-plus years. The old­est com­peti­tor in the K2 — Dave Mo­ran — was born in 1943.

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