Day One Old Legs Tour To Uganda

I was fully fatigued by the end of the days’ ride which is cycle speak for completely knackered. But that was to be expected, given it was only my 2nd outing since May 22nd. 122 km with 1009 m of climb is a very harsh way to ease back into the saddle.

Distance- 122 kilometers -Climb – 979 meters Time – 8 hrs 34 min
Max Heart Rate .181 bpm
Av Heart Rate – 125 bpm

Thanks to all who braved the cold to wish us bon voyage from Komani Estates. Sensitive to the Covid restrictions, we shelved our plans for a rock and roll send off out of Autoworld Chisipite. Apologies to Graeme Murdoch for not sending him the memo resulting him in being the only person who pitched up at Chisipite in a gorilla suit.

We were joined on the ride out by Colin Ridel and by road bikers Stan Flowers, Rafe Wetzlar, Sean Buckler, and others all training for their forthcoming Bridge to Bezi charity bike ride which will take them 750 km from Beitbridge to Vic Falls in 5 days.

I struggled to ride next to Rafe. He was going faster than I would normally ride. He looked at his onboard computer and saw we were averaging 23 kph and said it was a nice, gentle pace that allowed you to enjoy the scenery, conversation, and one that you could hold up all day. I told him bollocks. 23 kph for me on fat knobbly Mountain Bike tyres, 23 kph constituted a flat-out sprint.

Rafe was super proud of his son Peter who is off to represent Zimbabwe at the Tokyo Olympics. God speed Peter and swim like fish. And also God speed Peter Purcell-Gilpin, son of Ben and Sue, in his row boat. I’m thinking row boat isn’t the correct technical term but you get my drift.

It was very cool to ride with Bill Prentice who is falling back in love with Africa after 35 years of living in the US. His heartstrings were well and truly pulled upon all day.

I fell off the back of the group alarmingly after our delicious breakfast stop and for the life of me could not catch the others. Adam dropped back to nurse me along, and to get me to ride faster threatened me with his horrible song about the lady who swallowed a fly, a spider, a cat, a dog, a cow and a horse. The song itself is quite cute although very implausible, but becomes truly horrible only when Adam is the singer.

The ride out through Mazoe and up to Umvurwi was largely uneventful until we saw the snake on the road. I was a vine snake. Apart from being dead, it was a splendid specimen in tip top condition. I was surprised that Alastair Watermeyer hadn’t stopped to forage him. Al has a thing about picking up dead snakes on Tour so he can tie them to his bike in the hope they will make him go faster.

Never having been a racing snake myself, I don’t understand Alastair and the things that press his buttons, but because I am kind and considerate, I decided to pick up the snake for him.

Al has a carrier on the back of his bike for dead snakes, but I don’t. So I draped the 3 foot vine snake over my handle bars and we set off. We were riding abreast when Adam observed that my snake’s head had slipped down and was perilously close to getting tangled up in my spokes. So I grabbed him to pull him up, and discovered to my horror that the snake wasn’t dead.

The bloody thing had been playing possum all along and had now taken control of my handle bars. My bicycle had been highjacked by a highly venomous snake, leaving me with no option other than to hit the eject button, even though we were almost flat out sprinting at 20 kph.

Whence upon Adam riding next to me also fell off his bike, laughing, laughing, laughing. And he wasn’t the only one. Some ladies selling sweet potatoes on the roadside also laughed and laughed and laughed. Apparently old white men screaming shortly before flinging themselves off slow moving bicycles can be considered highly amusing.

Using a long stick this time, i untangled the treacherous serpent from my handlebars and dragged him out into the middle road so that a thousand other trucks could also run him over and finish him off properly. And from here on Alastair can collect his own dead bloody snakes.

There was more traffic on the road less travelled than expected, mostly big trucks servicing the mines, but for most part they were considerate and courteous, and happy to see us, blasting their hooters and horns in a cacophony of good will.

Several of us ride with Zimbabwe flags flying and people love it. And the extra drag coefficient from the flags is a wonderful built in excuse for not winning the sprint finishes. Although Al Watermeyer never got that memo.

We have been hosted in Guruve by Rob Fletcher and daughter Mia on Chingoma Farm and they pulled all the stops. We are a party of 16 and Rob was able to find beds for all of us.

I offered to dig a toilet hole in the garden, digging the long drops is one of my camp duties, but Rob said he was sure he could find porcelain enough for all of us. I think the book on hospitality was written by a Zimbabwean farmer.

I was able to scoop the first Dick of the Day award of the 2021 Tour for my exploits with the snake and will ride tomorrow resplendent in my blue tutu and Dick of the Day necklace. I duly noted all who voted for me and am reconsidering my alliances with them, which could be a snag because pretty much everyone voted for me.

Linda scooped the inaugural Hero of the Day award for being Linda.

Too happy to be told that riding into Guruve at the end of Day One, we have so far raised $101000. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all our donors. You will help us put so many smiles on so many hearts.

Tomorrow we ride 110 km down to Mashumbi Pools in the Zambezi Valley.

In closing please raise a glass to Carel Barnard. Carel was one of the pensioners we met on our 2018 Cape Town and he and I formed a firm friendship. RIP Carel.

Finally today’s Swahili 101
That’s not a snake, it’s a possum

Until my next blog, stay safe, enjoy and peddle if you can
Eric Chicken Legs

* Names and images may have been changed for privacy reasons

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