Old Legs New Zealand 2024 Tour

Shock, horror and expletives. With just 53 sleeps to go, the Old Legs New Zealand 2024 Tour looms larger than an O Level history exam to a kid who has only picked up on rumors about some kind of revolution that happened in France.

And New Zealand in March looms especially large if you haven’t been on your bike since the third week of November because of a long laundry list of excuses, including the dog ate your homework.

For those who’ve not yet met us, the Old Legs Tour are a group of social mountain bike riders, with an emphasis on social ,who gather in Harare every year to ride mountain bikes to somewhere ridiculously far away. NB We’re called the Old Legs Tour because old sounds more polite than bloody ancient, and also because we ride to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. Our mantra is Have Fun, Do Good and Do Epic.

Since 2018, we’ve pedalled to Cape Town, to the top of Kilimanjaro, to Uganda, to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, and to the tropical island paradise of Zanzibar, braving lions, tsetse flies and elephants, crocodiles and bloody kayaks, and Alastair Watermeyer’s joke and Adam Selby’s singing, raising almost a million dollars for charity in the process.

And in 2024, we are taking ridiculous to ridiculous lengths when we ride New Zealand from top to bottom. The New Zealand Tour kick off at Cape Reinga, the most northerly point of the North Island, on March 01 at 07.00 sharp, unless we oversleep, and will finish less sharply 30 days, 2902 kilometres and a staggering 32024 meters of climb later at the South Island’s most southerly point, unless we get lost. Because I’ve been involved on the fringes of the route planning, getting lost is a strong possibility.

As always, we are riding for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. The generation that built our country, teachers and nurses, doctors and lawyers, farmers and engineers, especially the poor farmers, have lost everything they own, homes, savings, pensions, all reduced to zero, by thirty years of economic stupidity and two bouts of hyper-inflation. And worse than that, so many also had their families scattered to the furthest corners of the world, leaving them dependent upon the charity they are too proud to ask for.

Donations raised on the New Zealand Tour will go to ZANE Australia. ZANE Australia support over 2000 pensioners across Zimbabwe, providing them monthly shelter, food and medicines, caring for them with love and kindness. ZANE also support the Old Legs Medical Fund who do their best to help pensioners needing surgeries. Unfortunately, in Zimbabwe, lifesaving surgeries are considered a luxury and cost an arm and a leg, especially when your pension equates to less than 12 US dollars per month. True story, to pay for a knee replacement, one of our pensioners who I will call Sue would have had to save every cent of her pension for the next 83 years, by which time she’d be 164 years old. The cartilages in her knee had long collapsed, reducing her to bone-on-bone pain. And with a government health system even more collapsed than her cartilage, Sue was stuck in her wheelchair and in pain for the rest of her life. Enter the Old Legs Medical Fund. With help from our ANZAC donors, the Old Legs bought Sue a new knee and she is walking again.

Quattra Mechanical

One of Sue’s benefactors from afar is Quattra Mechanical in Auckland. Epic adventures would not be possible without epic sponsors. Based in Auckland, Quattra Mechanical provide New Zealand with a full range of services including road transport, heavy plant & equipment, light vehicles, auto electrical & diagnostics, welding & fabrication and small plant & equipment. Thank you, Graham and Anita, for helping us help others.

Please join Quattra in sponsoring the Old Legs Tour. Because we ride so slow, sponsors will enjoy unprecedented brand exposure in New Zealand via our ride shirts and on the support vehicles, especially on the hilly bits of which there are many. Sponsorship packages start from just $800 with all sponsorship pledges going direct to the charity. NB Tour participants pay their own way. There is limited space available for sponsors on the shirts, especially on mine on account of me being so skinny, so hurry and book your spot now.

In closing, please be introduced to the first member of the New Zealand team, Old Legs stalwart and perennial good guy, Mark Johnson. Born in London in 1960, Mark is a true-blue Cockney out of Zimbabwe, now living in Australia and soon to be riding New Zealand.

Mark studied wine, women and bad music briefly at Ellis Robins school for boys before being expelled aged 15 for various offences, including dressing like a Bay City Roller. Mark completed his studies at the University of Life and hasn’t looked back. In a best move ever, Mark opened Topshaft Engineering, also a proud sponsor of the New Zealand Tour. And in an even better move, Mark very cleverly married Sue and hasn’t looked back since. Mark and Sue have 2 children, Brad and Holly, and 5 grandchildren who complete their lives. Mark and his family left Zimbabwe in 2004 for greener pastures, Australia’s gain, Zimbabwe’s loss, but has never forgotten those left behind.

Mark loves keeping fit and can often be found in the gym, or on a bike, or in the pool. Pools came later in life. Mark only learned to swim aged 34 when he signed up for his first triathlon. He is also a keen golfer, and an adventure junkie. Mark paddled the crocodile infested length of Lake Kariba in a bloody kayak, not once, but twice. Football is Mark’s first love. He remains a diehard Tottenham Hotspurs supporter, even though Harry Kane has left and Spurs are now able to lose more often than previously.

Having fun, doing good and doing epic is in Mark’s genetic make-up. He is a three times Old Legs veteran having ridden the Kilimanjaro and Skeleton Coast Tours and paddled the Crocodile Tour in a bloody kayak. And Mark was easily persuaded to sign up for both the New Zealand Tour in March, plus our headline event of 2024, the Old Legs Tour of Angola starting in July.

Never let it be said the Old Legs is not competitive. Mark is the only person to have worn the prestigious Dick of the Day wig two days back-to-back and is hoping to go for 3 in a row in New Zealand. The wig comes complete with a shimmering tutu which he looks especially fetching in. To support Mark follow his GoFundMe link –https://gofund.me/2559c638

I look forward to introducing you to some of the other pensioners we’ve helped in the weeks ahead and also to other members of Old Legs Team. Please be invited to follow our best adventure ever on Facebook, or on www.oldlegstour.com, or via www.zaneaustralia.com.au but be warned, we can make entire flocks of counting sheep nod off. And please also follow the donate prompts.

Until my next blog, Have Fun, Do Good, Do Epic

Eric Chicken Legs de Jong
Assistant Tour Organizer and Slowest Rider

* Names and images may have been changed for privacy reasons

If you are already a ZANE donor, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. If you are not a donor but would like to be, please follow the link below and know that every donation, however big or small, goes directly to where it is most needed. If you would like to help but can’t donate, please join the ZANE family and ‘like’ or ‘share’ our posts or write us a Google review – every positive step helps spread the word about the life changing work ZANE does.

Thank you – Nicky Passaportis ZANE Australia

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 lift the pressure of money worries which is very debilitating emotionally.

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