Day Two And Three Old Legs Silverback Tour

Read about day two and three of the old legs tour to Uganda to raise money for struggling pensioners hit hard by the unstable economic climate in Zimbabwe.

Day 2 of the Old Legs Silverback Tour – Guruve to Mashumbi Pools

Distance – 116 km
Climb – 537 m
Time – 7.38
Av Heart Rate- 121 bpm
Max Heart Rate -171 bpm

The first half of our ride from Guruve down into the Zambezi Valley was punctuated by some take -your breath -away downhill descents, entirely expected, and lots of viciously brutal climbs that I cannot elaborate on because a) they weren’t supposed to be there according route master Laurie Watermeyer’s briefing, and b) because there might be women and children out there reading this blog.

Laurie even went so far as to describe Day Two as a doddle. Laurie lied. It was plenty harsh. But it will still go down in the books as a damn good day in the saddle.

We rode through communal land for most of the morning. Village life in Zimbabwe is so simple. People are friendly, quick to smile and so uncomplicated. It is utterly charming. Wash days in the rivers, cotton farmers busy in their lands, and happy even though they get paid a pittance for their crops, Happy kids having the best time playing with an old tyre instead of on the Internet.

I had a dice with 2 youngsters who were 2 up on a Buffalo bike, one pedaling, the other steering. It was a fair contest. I was old and knackered but on a fancy 12-speed bike. They were young and strong but were 2 up on a 30 kg bike. They were in the lead briefly but then they hit a speed wobble and had hit the brakes Fred Flintstone style. Two size ten slip slops worn by the kid steering and slammed to the ground. He left two very impressive skid marks along the ground and a third one in his underpants.

The descent down the Zambezi Escarpment to the Valley floor was glorious, with exhilarating switchbacks, forever views as we dropped down through pristine woodland, including mopane trees turning gold through yellow through brown, and also others trees whose names escape me.

Mountain bikes were invented with descents like that in mind. Zimmerframes were invented for going back up the hill. Thank God we’re riding to Uganda and not back to Harare.

So I rode through Guruve and the Zambezi Valley today wearing a blue tutu. Which actually does nothing for your street cred would you believe? And because I share a Spotify account with Jenny, it gets worse.

I was struggling towards the end of the ride courtesy of unexpected corrugations and sand, (Laurie told us it was tar all the way to the finish line ) and fired up the music on my bike volume ten to lift my spirits and to get my legs fired up for the last 20 km. Bummer. I was riding past a busy business centre at the time, full of youth lounging outside a bottle store, and instead of Five Finger Death Punch, the lounging youth got blasted with a cover version of Judy Garland’s Over The Rainbow, by a guy riding a bike wearing a blue tutu.

And whilst on the subject of the blue tutu, I was able to find out why ballerinas sit down when they wee.
Jaime rode in a world of pain today, unable to keep down any food or drink, courtesy of not taking enough electrolytes in on Day One. We tried to get her into the support vehicle, but she flat out refused, until she had 100 km under her belt. She is her father’s daughter.

To make up for leaving out the bad bits in the Day 2 briefing, Laurie has told us Day 3’s ride will have more teeth than a crocodile – 117 Kilometers from Mashumbi Pools to Kanyemba with 960 m of climb and all of it on harsh dirt and harsher corrugations with lashings of soft sand.

And it gets worse. Because there isn’t a bridge over the Zambezi at Kanyemba, we will be riding entirely unsupported for the next 2 days. Which means we have to ride with 220 kilometers worth of jelly babies in my backpack, plus ride clothes, etc, etc

And while the cyclist push on to Kanyemba to cross into Zambia by boat, the support vehicles will drive past Mana Pools, cross the border at Chirundu, having first collected Gary who will hopefully be flown in from Botswana, overnighting in Lusaka before pressing onto find us at the Luangwa Bridge, unless of course, Jenny’s Garmin takes them to the Copperbelt instead. Like I said, the logistics on this one are complicated.

We should have our first wildlife encounters tomorrow on the ride into Kanyemba , most probably with lion and elephants. We will ride in a group, arranged alphabetically, thankfully with E for Eric sandwiched in the middle behind A for Adam, A for Al and B for Bill and C for CJ and shielded from behind by Laurie, Marco, Mark and Fiona.
And also thankfully I am thin with no meat on the bone, and they aren’t.

At the evening briefing. Laurie presented me with yet another well dead serpent as in almost biltong that he found on the road and asked me to do my best to bring it back to life. He said he worries about diminishing reptile populations, but I think he was pulling my piss, or he wanted to see me fall off my bike again.

I told Laurie that should we see any dead lions or elephants playing possum on the road to Kanyemba, I’m not going near them either. They can stay dead.

Huge thanks to Laurie and Leonie Flanagan who opened their home to 16 pairs of Old Legs and the attendant chaos . Zimbabweans have to be the most hospitable people in earth. But their lambs not so much. Leonine’s lamb developed an instant hate for me and tried to head butt me to death. Clearly lambs find my pheromones irritating. I have since added lambs to the long list of animals to beware of on the road to Kanyemba.

For the record let it be known Al Watermeyer looks smashing in a blue tutu. And he’s also a crappy defense lawyer.

In closing, please say a prayer for Jenny’s mom very ill in Joburg with pneumonia . Get better soon Hester. We love you lots.

Until my next blog from the Zambezi River, stay safe, enjoy and pedal if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

Silverback Tour Sponsors


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

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

Day 3 Old Legs Silverback Tour – Mashumbi Pools to Kanyemba

Distance – 118 km
Climb – 976m
Time – 10.28
Av Heart Rate- 114 bpm
Max Heart Rate -163 bpm

I am blogging to you from Kanyemba on the banks of the Zambezi River at 04.00. All around me I can hear hippos guffawing.

Laurie told us that the ride on Day Three would have teeth like a crocodile. Laurie is the master of the understatement. Man but we struggled. Not least of all because we rode unsupported.

From Mashumbi Pools the riders headed to Kanyemba to cross into Zambia by boat, whilst the Support Team turned left at the Angwa River Bridge head west through the Chewore, past Mana, through Chirundu to collect Gary and then across the border to Lusaka. We now have a photographer on board.

Adam worried the Support Team would only arrive in Lusaka after dark. Jenny is able to get lost in Harare in broad daylight. So he phoned the girls after 5 minutes to check on their average speed. Co-driver Linda conferred with Driver Jenny who told her she thought it was zero. Turns out they were stationary. Adam checked 5 minutes later when they were on the move, and Jenny was emphatic that they were averaging exactly 16.2 kph. It didn’t seem very fast to Adam. He asked Jenny to check again. Still exactly 16.2 kph. Then Adam suggested to Jenny that possibly she was reading the ambient temperature instead.

In fairness to Jenny, the dashboard on her Isuzu D-max looks like it has been cut and pasted from a Boeing airliner.

On one of the few occasions where I did pay attention to my ‘O’ Level geography, my teacher, a dour man with a strong right arm who had been breast fed battery acid, told us valley floors are easily recognizable as flat and are never, ever mountainous. Clearly the lying bastard had never been to Kanyemba on a bicycle.

But worse that the nearly 1000 meters of mountain we had to climb was the soft sand and the bone jarring corrugations that put an immediate end to any forward momentum. My average speed for the day was a pathetic 11 kph. Which makes for a very, very long day.

Our senses were heightened briefly when we saw our first elephant pooh just after the Angwa Bridge, and then our first lion spore. But then the same scenery over and over and over and over took it’s toll and the ride became a blur

Marveling at the same scenery can get you through the first 10 or 15 minutes, thereafter it gets boring. To while away the hours, Billy and I played car cricket. Because we were riding very slowly, we decided we’d play a 5 day test. The rules were basic – 1 run for a car, 4 runs for a small truck, 6 runs for big truck. Any bus, mini or big, and you were out clean bowled. Billy flipped his imaginary coin, called heads, and put me into bat.

Billy’s opening bowler was quite pedantic about his preparations. He polished his ball, practiced his run up and his glower for an hour and a half before bowling his first ball. It was a mini bus. 1 wicket down for zero. I complained bitterly to the umpire and told him I wasn’t ready. The umpire, also Billy, told me tough shit, get on with the game.

Car cricket might be on the edge of your seat exciting on California highways were Billy hails from, but on the roads less travelled, not so exciting. 10 hrs and 28 minutes after the start of play, bad light stopped play with my score on 2 for 7. And 3 of my runs came from overthrows when the same car passed us 3 times.

Clearly we weren’t going to get a result, so I was prepared to concede a draw. But Billy, sensing blood, won’t have it.

But worst of it, we were riding unsupported, not just one day, but two days on the trot. After packing extra jelly babies, extra fruit bars, extra biltong, extra biscuits, our packed breakfast and lunch, plus pajamas, plus toothbrush, I only had room in my backpack for 3 liters of water, plus another liter in my bottle. 4 liters sounds plenty for 120 kilometers, but unfortunately the Zambezi Valley never got the memo about winter, and I ran out of water after 60 km.

The heat took it’s toll in Fiona. By the time we hit the 60 km peg, she was badly dehydrated. She is also bloody stubborn and soldiered on bravely. But when she jettisoned her breakfast, Adam made the call and asked Andy Lowe, our Kanyemba host to evacuate Fiona. Andy met us 40 km out, dragged Fiona off her bike and into the car kicking and screaming, and resupplied us with 25 liters of water. And still we ran out of water but the time we limped into camp after easily one of the hardest days I have ever spent in the saddle.

Jenny packed us boiled eggs for breakfast and hot dogs for lunch. Alas. I ran out of lunch when I ate my hotdog for breakfast by mistake. CJ didn’t and enjoyed her lunch later while I watched on. I almost mugged her. CJ is one of those annoying people who drag their Easter eggs out until October.

I am very underdone for this Tour and am easily the weakest rider in the group. But for Adam physically pushing me up the steepest hills, I would still be out there riding. I have never gone up hills that quickly. It was quite exhilarating. I want to ask Adam to push me to Uganda but worry there are not enough yellow jelly babies in the world.

I have to pay tribute to our 1949 models, Alastair and Marco. They are riding like teenagers. It is bloody annoying and if ever I catch them, I will tell them.

I am not too despondent about my legs. Yesterday was only my 4th ride since May 22nd and fully expect them to get stronger, most probably on the last day in Uganda.

And if you think us riders had it tough, spare a thought for the poor support crew. Alastair’s solemn promise of 5 hours to the tar road ballooned out to a massive 9 hours. One of the trailers fell apart on security road through Chewore. And on top of all of that, it turns out Zambian Customs and Immigration officials know how to spell officious.

The cars only got through the border after ten o’clock, exhausted, after a 16 hour day. What fun. I would not be surprised if Al Watermeyer has painted a huge Dick of the Day target on his back.

And to make matters worse for young Russel, he was voted Dick of the Day, despite a spirited defense by his lawyer. I rather think Judge Adam might recused himself because of several personal nominations but he insisted on carry out his judicial duties.

Tomorrow we cross the Zambezi by boat and pedal 90 km to the Luangwa Bridge. We hope to meet the support vehicles there. If we don’t, we will have to survive off road kill.

We are riding to Uganda to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. Please follow us on Facebook and even though we ride slow like paint dries. Please especially follow the donate prompts.

In closing please raise a glass and say a prayer for Jenny’s beloved mom Hester. RIP dear Hester. We loved you lots.

Until my next blog from the Luangwa Bridge, stay safe, help others and enjoy if you can

Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.


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

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

Similar Posts