In the past 12 years, Alastair Borwick has never missed the Cranleigh K2 road cycling event, renowned as New Zealand's toughest road cycling event. It is a 200km ride, which combines 2300m of climbing and superb surroundings to produce a European-style cycling challenge, a favourite amongst elite and recreational riders alike. Borwick, a 55-year-old GP from Devonport, loves taking on the challenge. He joins 1500 riders of all abilities on Saturday, November 1, looking to conquer K2 once again.

You have competed in every one of the K2 cycling events; what do you enjoy about this race?

I've been coming to the Coromandel for holidays with Mum and Dad since I was about 6, I love to visit the place. The K2 is a big effort - training for about six hours or more of continual hard riding gets you really fit for summer. It's not over-sized like some events. The K2 has great scenery all the way with some nice hilltop views. Keith, Andy, and Rita - the organisers of ARC Events - are outstanding people who work hard putting on these races and giving back to their Coromandel community. They deserve our support.

You must be proud of your record?

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Call it stubborn. I've been lucky enough to stay well and avoid major injury. It's been great supporting the Coromandel community through ARC Events. I'm really proud to see cycling grow in the past 10 years, with more people lifting their fitness and more Kiwis emerging on to the top levels of the world stage. The boys' cycling teams at our local high school, Takapuna Grammar, recently placed first in the NZ Secondary Schools Cycling Champs and three of those lads have been picked to represent NZ overseas.

It is known as New Zealand's toughest road cycling event; what makes it so tough?

K2 offers you everything - it's quite long, has lots of hills and you can expect playful sea breezes. If you ride really hard early you may suffer a poor performance later, so it's a good personal test. If you don't eat enough food during the event, it gets very tough.

How much have you been training and what is your goal for this year's race?

This year I've focused on recovery and [hopefully] performance follows. I have done fewer hours than other years as I'm getting older. If you're fresher, you can train better and smarter. I'm riding two laps this year starting on Friday night and hope to get home on lap two before the K2 winner, so shortly after noon. Boy, do I enjoy going to the supermarket [after a big ride].

What do you love about cycling?

You've seen a car drive past with a dog poking its head out the window and what does his face tell you? On a bike, your pace is largely due to your own effort. It's very satisfying and an hour of cycling in the morning energises you for the whole day. It's a great social sport, too, from the shared effort of riding close to other cyclists ... to the coffee afterwards.

What is it like to mix with the elite riders at the event?

In this sport you can use a similar gear to the very best athletes and tackle the same course. If you ride with elite athletes, you either pull your weight or get right out of the way. They're mostly friendly folk who make a sacrifice to work extremely hard over many years to be as good as they are; you have to respect that. I have found them accepting of anyone who tackles the same course.

What advice do you offer newcomers to this event?

Get enough training rides in and follow a programme but be well recovered for at least a couple of weeks before the event. Focus on eating, conserving energy and enjoy your day. The feeling on completion, as your body relaxes is one of life's peak sensations. So when it really hurts and you think you're done, stick with it and ride easily for a bit, eat and drink until someone else rides along, you do recover and feel better again.

Coromandel sojourn
What: Cranleigh K2 road cycling event.
When: Saturday, November 1.
Where: Coromandel Peninsula.
What: A gruelling 200km road cycling event that includes 2300m of climbing and stunning scenery.
For more information visit: www.arcevents.co.nz