When doctors diagnosed Kit Panting with early-onset type two diabetes that would require a lifetime of medication and treatment, he begged for an alternative solution.

It was suggested to Panting that if he lost a significant amount of weight and changed his diet drastically he could potentially delay the effects of the disease.

But Panting's doctors weren't convinced the 66-year-old builder, who once labelled himself a "classic slob," would be able to turn his life around in time.

"I was heading toward a sticky end in my life, no doubt about that," Panting told the Herald.


"I was very unfit, I had made bad lifestyle choices and I knew that if I didn't change things, I was in trouble ... I'd always been active but I was a classic slob."

Dusting off an old bike that had found a comfy home in his garage for more than 20 years, Panting started to cycle with the determination of proving his doctors wrong.

Ensuring that he had a constant source of motivation and accountability, Panting joined a cycling group lead by Mt Eden Cycles up to three mornings a week and began setting himself challenges to train and compete in long-distance races.

And by fully immersing himself in the world of cycling and general well-being, Panting said it didn't take long before the results started to show.

"Pretty soon the results and physical improvements came along," he said.

"It stopped the rock, put it that way ... my doctors were quite staggered by the results and since then, I've never been on medication for diabetes and it's never gotten any worse."

Considering it as the biggest turning point in his life, Panting believed that his decision to start cycling has benefited him in far more ways than one.

He said that cycling had not only challenged him physically, but it changed his perspective on life and how he would choose to spend the rest of his.

"It has made a huge impact on my life as it has coincided with a lifestyle change and a complete change of direction for me," he said.

"Cycling just makes me feel like I've done something in the direction of self-improvement and self-maintenance."

"I have no desire to be on a dialysis machine or to clog up the country's overstretched health system and I like the positivity of exercising regularly."

"I don't see there being a viable alternative, the whole ageing process is a bit of a one-way street and to give up means to give in to ageing and injuries while getting slower and I don't want to go there."

Although considering his cycling endeavours as "recreationally-inspired," Panting has successfully completed his fair-share of cycle challenges.

Becoming a regular at the start line of the annual Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, which Panting has raced in for 10 consecutive years, the eager cyclist has also completed the gruelling Coromandel K2 Challenge.

Labelled as the toughest one-day cycle challenge in the Southern Hemisphere, the K2 covers nearly 200km of the eastern coastline of the Coromandel Peninsula and features one of the most difficult mountain cycle climbs in the world.

Panting said the K2 was undoubtedly the toughest challenge he's faced and although admitting to having nearly failed after becoming dehydrated at the half-way mark, the cyclist said it was his "mental strength" that saw him through.

"I do have the nature of not liking to give up, whether it's just the embarrassment of failure I don't know, but I like to try and finish what I've started," he said.

"I drew on my mental strength a lot because no hill will last forever, you can be doing a long climb and you can think you're not going to make it, but you just need to remember that you're going to reach the top eventually, it's as simple as that."

"In any long event you can have those thoughts, but they don't stay forever, so the trick is just knowing that they will pass ... I always tell people not to be demoralised by how hard things seem at first, you've got to trust that you will get through the hard part."

After struggling with ongoing knee problems and suffering arthritis in his hips, Panting has since been advised to wind back on his cycling ventures.

But even with hip surgery on the cards, Panting said he would continue to take part in the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge and race parts of the Coromandel K2 track for as long as he could.

The inspirational cyclist said it was all about "keeping his body moving" and said that his top advice to anyone was to "just start".

"Definitely do it, embrace it, say 'I'm going to do this' because even if you just do it once, you've done it, you've started. I think that's the most important thing, to start."

"It's good to prove to yourself time and time again that you can overcome those obstacles ... I think too much defeat week-in week-out can create a sense of 'I'm getting nowhere' so you've got to have wins and personal victories for yourself."

"Cycling is just like life, the hills are challenging, the descents are exhilarating, and too much easy riding on the flat can be boring."