The Dirty K
The GLCC Dirty K
The Dirty K and the Coromandel Dream Ride, a day of two rides. The first GLCC group to leave Auckland were bound for Coromandel, the classic Dream Ride. The second group, well they headed to Coromandel on the 8:45 ferry. We were heading there do trial The Dirty K. A new event in conjunction with K2 and The New Zealand Cycling Journal.
The Dirty K
The dirty K is a loop around the top part of the Coromandel Peninsula. It leaves Coromandel Town and heads for Colville. Colville is also the last place on this ride to be able to fill up your water bottles and buy food. It’s a cute little forgotten town, with a resident goat on the lefthand side of the road as you enter. Make sure you stop!
The road from Coromandel Town to Colville is sealed, but has three nice climbs in-between, a couple of kms long and gradients of 5%. Nothing too serious at this point. If racing this route, I’d definitely recommend trying to stay with a good group. It’ll pay off in the long run.
The Gravel Sections
It’s only after a few km out of Colville that the real fun starts. When you reach the Port Charles climb, that’s when the gravel starts. It’s intermittent from here on in. The first gravel climb is also a couple of Kms long and 6%. But it feels harder because of the loose pack. The descent on this climb is stunning. The ground loose, but all eyes are on the beach of Waikawau. It’s old school New Zealand.
Leaving Waikawau towards Tuateawa you’re faced with a climb that never seems to end. And the gravel is loose to say the least. You feel as though you’re on the Tokatea climb, but you’re definitely not. For that climb is an absolute wake up call to just how little training you’ve done, or energy wasted on the previous 70km.
Descending Tuateawa hill into Kennedy Bay is a real treat. For most of it it is sealed, but fricking steep. Making sure your brakes work at the top is advisable. The road drops away pretty quickly, and the final bend opens up a vista to behold. This is what it means to be a Kiwi. The simple bach, golden beach, and serenity. That serenity is likely to be broken with the screech of disc and rim brakes on the final corner.
Kennedy Bay to Coromandel Town
This is where the real fun starts. This section will be determined by those who’ve saved enough energy. It’s a dirty last 20km, absolutely filthy. And we’re not talking just about the road surface. The Dirty K starts here! From Kennedy Bay you’ll follow a river or two. It’s a combination of both gravel and seal. Then, with almost no warning, you’re faced with a brute of a climb, Tokatea! There’s absolutely nothing gentle about the introduction. Bam, you’re hitting 10%. There’s no let up either. It’s like that for 4km. Fortunately the hairpins are sealed. And that’s a recent thing.
Tokatea is the last climb. It’s 350 metres elevation at 8%, but those figures don’t do it any justice, nor the respect it deserves. It will be the hill that sees a lot of walking during the race. Once on the other side of that hill it’s a different story. You start descending immediately, and on seal. It’s a fast run into Coromandel Town. Time for food and well deserved beers.
It took GLCC about 3:30 hrs. The difficulty with this route is the timing. Travelling from Auckland you’ll either have to drive down, or catch the 8:45 ferry. The ferry is nicer, and quicker, but it doesn’t leave you a lot of time. You’ll arrive at Coromandel Tow at 11. The ferry departs again at 4:30. Providing you have no mechanicals/punctures, you get back into town close to 3pm.
The best advice we can give is to spend a night in town. That way there’ll be no rush, and you could even do the loop the next day, and take in some of the beautiful scenery. It’s hard to do that when racing for the ferry, oh, and beers!
Can you do this on a road bike, absolutely. But I’d recommend riding 28s, but only if the track is dry. If it rains on the day of the race road tyres will make it pretty tough, and dangerous. But should it stay dry, well you can even do it on 25s. Although, I’d suggest a gravel bike with 32s+, 50/34 chainset, and 11-34 cassette.