Tuesday, 19 January 2021


Andy Corles to hand cycle the 86km K1 section of the K2

By Jordan Gower

In July 2014, Andy Corles’ life changed drastically as a vehicle accident left him without the use of his legs and most of his upper body.

Andy is a fighter, though, and four years on he hasn’t let his injuries slow him down. This coming Saturday (27 October), Andy will hand cycle the 86km K1 section of the K2 Cycle Race from Tairua to Coromandel Town.

“When I woke up after my accident, I decided two things,” says Andy. “One was that I needed my wife and my daughter’s names, plus the date of my accident, tattooed on my body. The second thing I decided was that one day I would enter the K2.”

Andy made a start last year when he cycled the Nicholas Browne section of the K2 from Tairua to Whitianga

Andy and his wife, Shelley, live in Te Rerenga with their daughter, Maddie. They make the well-known Castle Rock range of chutneys and dressings. “It’s my wife, my mother-in-law and myself in the business,” says Andy. “My wife and my mother-in-law both put a lot of work into the business.”

An Auckland and Coromandel Westpac Rescue Helicopter flew Andy to Auckland hospital after his accident in 2014. Since then, he has become very close with many of the rescue helicopter crew members and he and his family have a huge respect for the service they provide. “Occasionally the rescue helicopter crew will even come around for dinner,” says Andy. “I really respect them and we’re so grateful for what they do. They just belong here on the Coromandel.”

That respect is mutual. “The team at the Auckland and Coromandel Westpac Rescue Helicopters are very proud of Andy and the challenges he has set himself since the day of his accident,” says Lincoln Davies, communications manager of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust. “Andy will tell you he's an everyday, ordinary guy, but we think he’s pretty extraordinary. He exemplifies that humble, can-do, kind of spirit that is admired by so many of us Kiwis. We know he has a great team behind him with Shelley and Maddie and their extended family, as well as many others from the Coromandel community.”

Andy has been training for Saturday’s K1 since last year’s K2. “My coach, John Rich of Thames, sends me a training programme every day,” says Andy. “I do whatever he wants me to do. I have a little computer I attached to my bicycle, which records all my statistics. I send those stats to John so that he can see how I’ve been doing.”

Andy has been training six days a week for the K1. He cycles on average around 130km every week. His training differs from day to day. “It could be hill climbs or sprints,” says Andy. “Lately I’ve been cycling from Coroglen to Te Rerenga. John is a very good coach. He gives me that extra encouragement to go out every day, no matter the conditions.”

Andy describes a hand cycle as, “A normal bicycle, but everything is upside down.” He hopes to complete the K1 in eight hours. “Eight hours is my goal, but that would be very, very good for me,” says Andy. “Realistically it will take me up to 10 hours.”

Andy’s determined entry into cycling has been of great benefit to him and his family. “I just think for my own wellbeing it has made a huge difference,” says Andy. “I can do so much more for myself, physically and mentally. And it’s good for the whole family too. My cycling has kind of taken Shelley away from being my carer and made her just my wife again.”

The full K2 is still a goal in Andy’s sights, but he guesses it’s probably still a couple of years away. Eventually he hopes to try out for the Paralympics. “I would love some sponsorship at this stage, cycling is an expensive sport,” says Andy with a smile. “I’m also keen to do some public speaking at schools or clubs that might want to hear my story. I feel like it could help and inspire people.”


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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.