Day Four and Five Old Legs Tour To Uganda

Follow the Old Legs as they ride to raise money for their counterparts who are struggling to survive financially.

Day 4 of the Old Legs Silverback Tour – Kanyemba to Luangwa Bridge

Distance – 84.75 km
Climb –
Time – 5.34 minute
Ave Heart Rate – 104 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 157 bpm

Day 4 was down on paper as a doddle. We’d dialed distances back to allow for our first border crossing. But because yesterday’s monster ride took it’s toll on most everyone, our doddle turned into a very slow dragged out marathon, a stop start one because a tummy bug is now running rampant through the peloton, with 4 down and others with tummies starting to rumble and mumble. Zambians now know that bears aren’t the only things that crap in the woods.

The riders and bikes crossed the Zambezi by boat per kind favour of our host Andy Lowe. By speedboat is an exhilarating way to travel as compared to bicycles, and I am thinking about switching sporting codes to a motorized water sport and watch gorillas on National Geographic instead.

We dawdled in the little border town of Luangwa. Customs and Immigration were friendly enough but sure weren’t in a hurry to process us. We were nipping straws because the 72 hour validity of our PCR tests was slipping away. Finally they checked them with just 4 minutes to spare. But I don’t think they even looked at the date.

They sure don’t take COVID seriously in Zambia, with very few masks in view anywhere. We are determined to keep our COVID bubble intact and mask up anywhere near strangers. Our masks caused some amusement and we had people shouting at us that we needn’t bother because there was no COVID in Zambia. I would not be surprised if Zambia doesn’t become a COVID hotspot in the not too distant future. Touch wood, I am wrong.

Luangwa Commerce

The little town of Luangwa felt different, more relaxed and with less edge. The hair styling sector in town is booming with hair salons on every corner, including the Low Life Salon and across the road, Aunt Emma’s Dreadlock Centre who also make cakes.

Prices with lots of zeros in them allowed us to feel right home. I laughed at diesel selling for 1700 kwacha, until I did my exchange sums. That works out at 80 cents US a liter, which is seriously cheap by Zim standards.

Zambia is in full election mode with every tree and every building plastered with campaign posters or graffiti and people wearing tee shirts with happy smiling politician faces on them. My prize for the most catchy, no-nonsense political campaign catch phrase goes to Mr Fred, who has painted the town white with ‘Vote for Fred’ graffiti.

Zambia

If only all the political spend on posters and banners and free speeches and rallies and bullshit went into developments that would uplift people’s lives, other than just the politicians. Although I’m guessing the tee shirt manufacturers also do quite well.

I saw groups of HH supporters mixing and mingling with Lungu supporters so I’m guessing elections aren’t fought to the death in Zambia, like they are in Zimbabwe.

Eastern Zambia is big sky country with distant horizons and well treed with millions of Ilala palms and baobabs and other trees whose names escape me. But not for long I fear as there were signs of the dreaded charcoal trade along the road, Africa’s curse.

We rode alongside the Luangwa River for most of the day but didn’t see any shoebill storks. I hope Al Watermeyer wasn’t telling me bullshit stories about them too.

Never Give Up

Apart from charcoal, the only signs of an economy that I could see was grass mat manufacturing. I think Eastern Zambia is the grass mat manufacturing centre of Eastern Zambia. We passed huge piles of them waiting to be sold on the side of the road. I was going to buy one for the tent but I’d only end up traipsing dirt on it and in trouble with Jenny. Plus the colours would clash.

We sure are a curiosity in Eastern Zambia. Whole villages of kids poured out into the roads to cheer us past. The one group of about 20 kids ran alongside me chanting Number One, Number One, Number One, even though I was coming 9th. I tried to speed up for them but couldn’t because I was too knackered.

We went from being Marangu’s to mazungus when we crossed the Zambezi and we’ll stay mazungus all the way to Uganda. Mazungu means ‘white man.’ I asked Billy what would happen if gangs of white kids in America ran out and shouted ‘black man, black man, black man’ at every black man they saw walking in the street? He thinks Lewis Hamilton might frown upon it and take the knee, but wasn’t sure.

Day 5 takes us 118 km from Luangwa Bridge to a bush camp in the middle of nowhere on our way to Chipata. Unfortunately we get to climb a massive 1739 meters on the way.

Silverback Tour Vehicles

This will be our first time bush camping on Tour. Me and Russ are in charge of digging toilets hole when we bush camp, with strict instructions to site them such that people can pooh with a view. Because of the tummy bug ongoing in the peloton, I’m hoping we can get away with digging small holes, instead of the huge ones normally associated with Al Watermeyer’s volumes of bullshit.

Until my next blog from the middle of nowhere, stay safe and enjoy and pedal if you can.

Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.


PLEASE DONATE TO SUPPORT PENSIONERS STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE IN ZIMBABWE

Any assistance is greatly appreciated and goes a long way to giving our pensioners a better quality of life and lifts the pressure of money worries which is very debilitating emotionally.

(Donations made to ZANE in Australia, are tax-deductible)

Day 5 of the Old Legs Silverback Tour – Luangwa Bridge to the Middle of Nowhere

Distance – 92 km
Climb – 1367 m
Time – 7 hr 45 min we
Ave Heart Rate – 115 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 157 bpm

After wounding our bottoms on the way to Kanyemba and in anticipation of yet another long day in the saddle, Al and I both decided to go with double padding strategy and are now taller when we sit than when we stand. The only downsides are an extra 30 degrees of warmth in the nether regions and an extra fumble to contend with before urinating.

Old Legs Rider

I read with interest in my yesterday’s blog that there were no escarpments to be seen coming out of Luangwa. What a load of crap. The only reason we couldn’t see the escarpment is because it was hidden behind a range of huge bloody mountains that we were required to ride up and over all morning. What a rude awakening. I think I will have to take what I write with a pinch of salt in future.

Billy is fickle. When he had me reeling at 2 wickets down for 7 runs, he reckoned car cricket was the best game ever. But since then we’ve got onto the Great East Road, my batsmen have learned how to spell resolve and Billy’s much vaunted bowling attack has withered under the hot Zambian sun. I am smacking his bowlers for 6 all over the park thanks to non-stop 30 ton rigs and a paucity of public transport. Now I’m sitting pretty on 367 for 7, and all of a sudden Billy is saying car cricket is a stupid game, sandpapering balls should be allowed, cricket will never catch on, etc, etc.

I am happy to be riding in my bubble. I still don’t know who won the Tour de France, I still don’t know if the British Lions were beaten by the Springboks, and I don’t even care.

Easily the fastest thing on the Old Legs Tour today was the speed with which the dreaded lurgy ripped through the peloton, dropping riders like shot giraffes. Billy, the ride medic’s diagnostic skills were hardly challenged with projectile nausea being the primary symptom and easy to spot. Before the end of the ride we were down from 10 to just 6.

The standard greeting from young children in Zambia is How are you? How are you? How are you? to be repeated three times and as loudly as possible and in chorus with as many of your friends as possible. They put so much effort into it you worry that your bog standard ‘ I am fine ‘ answer will surely disappoint, but it never does.

I came perilously close to traumatizing the young group of kids who rushed up to enquire after my health after I came to an involuntary halt outside there village. There were nine or ten demands of How are you? How are you? How are you? I almost answered them with projectile vomit, but managed to bite down on it and pedal away quickly. You have no idea how unpleasant it is to bite down on a bucket load vomit. Those children owe me big.

Billy and I had two kilometers left to ride. The nausea had’t gone away. The lurgy is cruel, It had just pressed the pause button, playing me like a cat plays with a rat. It quietly murmured all through setting up camp, waiting instead for me to be stark bollock naked in the shower. I very quickly did my Dick of the Day calculations and worked out better to vomit outside the shower than within.

I was able to drag on a pair of jockey shorts ( vomiting whilst streaking would also get you bust) and took exactly two steps before Vesuvius erupted, almost all over Gary, standing packing his camera equipment away. I now worry Gary has been traumatized. Ditto CarolJoy and Russ who had front row seats for the second snd third eruptions. Afterwards, Russ gave me 10 for effort. Gary gave me 11 for aim.

A big shout out to Dr Becky Oranjes from Kabwe who gave us valued advice over the phone on how best to treat the lurgy.

I had anti- nausea pills for dinner chased down by two warm cokes and slept the sleep of the dead. And then more of the same the next day in the back of the car. On all my rides, this was my first time ever being in a support vehicle and I now know that riding bikes is the easy bit.

It is near impossible to drive 100 km in 8 hours with a smile on your face all the while resisting the urge to shout pedal faster at pathetically slow cyclists. For the life of me I can’t figure out how bike riding has become a popular spectator sport. And then when eventually they finish pedalling, you’re expected to feed them the equivalent of a horse. Our Support Team do the really hard yards.

Mark and I sat out Day 6 because of the lurgy, Adam made his comeback stronger than ever. Laurie’s come back turned out to be only brief and after 30 kms was back in the car exhausted.

Al has to sit out the first part of the ride, not because of the lurgy, but because he is a clumsy bastard. True story, he slipped in the shower and broke his fall with his head. Billy only allowed back in his bike after passing a halftime concussion test. I have suggested to Al he wears his riding helmet in camp.

Jaime took time out from the ride to give us all a valuable botany lesson on why one should never wee in a patch of Buffalo beans. Very skittishly I had my next Number Two, by now my lurgy has developed additional symptoms, on the side of the road and far from the bush. Apologies Zambia.

Day 7 the riders rode 111 km in good time. All rode strongly, although Marco is complaining of a mortally wounded bottom. He asked me to rub a soothing lotion on it and I told him bummer dude.

Winner of the Day

Dick of the Day is heating up and horse trading in full swing. Al has traded me 5 black wine gums for no votes against him for 5 days. If this catches on, I’ll arrive in Uganda fat with pimples and sugar high that will power in until December.

In closing, please say a prayer for Delia Brown, beloved wife to Phil and mom to Bronson and Zane. And please raise a glass to Bob Clegg. So sorry Rose, Bob was a good guy.

Until my next blog from Chipata – stay safe and avoid the lurgy at all costs.

Eric Chicken Legs de Jong


PLEASE DONATE TO SUPPORT PENSIONERS STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE IN ZIMBABWE

Any assistance is greatly appreciated and goes a long way to giving our pensioners a better quality of life and lifts the pressure of money worries which is very debilitating emotionally.

(Donations made to ZANE in Australia, are tax-deductible)

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