Words: Catherine Ballantyne                                                           Photos: Josue Fernandez
 
We came to K2N expecting a mountain bike stage race, what we found was a unique “share around the table” experience. I will remember the big sky, great people, fantastic food and an experience like no other. That's before I even start on the mountain biking or the environment.
 
The moment we arrived at Simba Farm Lodge we were greeted first by Jason Miller, the timing maestro and then Brett Harrison, the Event Director. Within minutes we were sitting around the open fire in the garden talking with people we had only just met about everything from international education standards to the challenges facing Tanzania with respect to agriculture. And it was only 6am in the morning. It quickly became obvious that the people who had been drawn to K2N were of like mind and the feel of this event was something special.

 

For those who don’t know, K2N is a four day mountain bike stage race from Kilimanjaro to Natron in north eastern Tanzania. It was started to help fund agriculture education programmes in the country. This year is the first time the race has been opened to public application and 19 people from across the globe converged on Simba Farm nestled into the foothills of Kilimanjaro. The food they served is a great example of farm to table cuisine they adapted well with both Nola and I being vegan and others being vegetarian. 
 
Registration was a relaxed affair with some serious undertones due to validation of insurance cover and understanding of risk while the smell of coffee emanated from our beautiful hand-stitched race bags. The event briefing was again sitting around the open fire, this time as the sun set. Brett reviewed the first day’s racing. Climb 1700m up the side of Kilimanjaro with a starting height of 2200m (i.e. start at the height of Kosciuszko and then climb it almost again), ride (or at times walk) 8km of singletrack at the top and then descend to the starting point.