Energyclub NZ K4


Some say the 192km Flight Centre K2 Road Cycle Classic, with its 2,300m of climbing, around the Coromandel Peninsula is one of the toughest one-day cycle challenges in the Southern Hemisphere.

If that’s is the case, then what does that make the two times round K4?  Possibly the toughest one- day cycling challenge on the planet?

It’s certainly not a ride for the faint hearted and requires significant preparation and a resilient mind set and even more resilient buttocks. Like the Olympic games, it is only held every four years. The event typically attracts between 30 and 40 riders which is another indication of how difficult a ride it is. Over the past 4 years 12 riders have signed up to the K2’s Olympic Challenge which involves riding the previous three years K2’s and then, if ready, tackling the K4 in their 4th year.

To put into context this is how the K4 compares to the great European one -day Monument Classics.









K4 – New Zealand








Milan – Sam Remo, Italy (*)




Tour of Flanders, Belgium




Paris – Roubaix, France




Liege – Bastogne – Liege, Belgium




Giro di Lombardia, Italy




 (*) The Milan – San Remo is the longest one-day distance in professional cycling.

So how on earth do you prepare for such a monumental undertaking? We caught up with a few of the riders who have signed up for the 2018 edition of the K4 and gleaned some interesting and varied insights into their backgrounds and their preparation.

Crunchie Donaldson is a 65 year old cycling veteran from Taupo. He took up cycling 35 years ago after hanging up his rugby boots. After a brief foray into the world of triathlon he settled on cycling. He is one of only eight people to have taken part in all 16 previous K2 events and that includes two K4’s.  What he loves about the event is the start, the crowds, the people and the finish. For Crunchie it has the feel of one of the old AMP country shows.

The K4 is the toughest ride that Crunchie has completed, and he is someone who has done 8 laps of Lake Taupo.  He starts preparing in earnest for the event 4 months out and gradually builds his cycling up to 25 – 30 hours a week. Most of his weekends are gone with 6-8 hour rides on each day and a couple of weeks before the event he takes time off work and rides a circuit of the lake 5 days in a row.

Only ½ dozen women have completed the K4 including Crunchies wife Jo. 



He arrives for the event in his camper van on the Friday morning. Has a good lunch and then sleeps for a few hours before the 10.00pm start. He will ride his own race for the first circuit but will team-up with anyone going at a similar pace. He will stop at the half way point for a good breakfast of bacon, eggs and avocado, but not too much to make those first two hills out of Coromandel uncomfortable. He will also take the opportunity to apply another liberal layer of shammy cream onto his tender cheeks.

The high point for Crunchie was completing the 2010 K4 with his partner Jo. He has no real lows to report but does comment that he goes through a few dark moments or rough patches and can feel quite emotional, particularly on the 2nd lap, although that is helped by having lots of K2 riders around.  However, he concludes, “it’s all worth it and I love the feeling of keeping myself fit. Cycling is certainly a sport where you can compete with younger people”.


Patrick Flanagan has the dream of winning the K4, it is his favourite event.  A local Whitianga rider he certainly has the credentials with impressive showings in his previous two outings. In 2010 he came 4th and only a couple of minutes behind the 2nd and 3rd place getters in an impressive time of 13:21. World Masters champion Jim McMurray won the race in a record 12:49 that year. In 2014 he came 5th, less than hour behind eventual winner Murray Arthur.

Patrick, a boat builder by trade, weighs in at 58kg and 163cm and is built for climbing. He knows he can climb as well as Murray Arthur and if he gets his nutrition right this time he feels he is in with a good chance. “The gels and airplanes just didn’t cut it last time” he wryly reflects.  On the 2010 event he was dropped on the final climb, the Whangapoua Hill, by the 2nd and 3rd riders, when he literally ran out of steam. Before that point in the race the three riders were attempting to chase Jim McMurray down and made a pact to stop for a pee at the same time.

Patrick at 51 has been cycling for the past fourteen years and came to the sport from competitive sailing. His training regime is in complete contrast to Crunchie. He generally has just one road ride a week of up to 80km and the rest of the time is spent on the wind trainer. Its set up in his garage and every morning between 4.00am and 6.00am he completes an intense workout while listening to his favourite music. He follows this with a hearty breakfast of three bowls of cereal, before heading off to work.  That said he clocks up a mighty 300-400km a week.  He’s in bed by 8.00pm, sometimes 7.30pm and as I interviewed him on the phone I could here is wife shouting something in the background.



He suffered a frightening moment on the first lap of his previous K4.  Just before the summit of the longest and highest hill, the 425m Kopu-Hikuai, he lost his front light and was thrown into darkness.  He quickly dropped off the back of the small bunch he was riding with, which made things worst. As he summitted he could see the tail lights of the group in front and tried desperately to bridge the gap.  On the fast descent a possum ran out in front of his wheel and missed him by inches.

During the 2nd lap he was riding with Hamiltonian, Mike Gascoigne, and they were in 4th and 5th position. Patrick recounted with admiration and certainly amount of envy that Mike had cunningly stashed food parcels around the course. “He stopped for a meat pie hidden behind the barriers on Pumpkin Hill and then again for Muffins at Kuaotunu’’.  It made all the difference and again Patrick was dropped on the final and toughest hill on the course, the mighty Whangapoua.

For relaxation Patrick builds wooden bikes for his family to keep and at the age of 51 is just embarking on a new career as a builders’ apprentice.



This years’ K4 has a limited entry of 60 riders and already 54 entries have been received. The 54 riders include 4 women, Robyn Marchant, Tracy Parke, Joanna Sharp and Emma Hadley. It also includes Dr Alastair Borwick, who has also completed the amazing feat of finishing every K2 and every K4 and finally it includes 10 hardy individuals who have undertaken the Olympian Challenge. This challenge started 4 years ago and since then the riders have completed the last three laps of the K2 starting in Thames, Tairua and Whitianga and will complete their quest with the K4 starting in Coromandel.

We wish you all well on your epic ride and look forward to seeing you all in a couple of weeks.

enter here