1200 entrants lining up for tough K2 cycle race
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.