Skeleton Tour Old Legs

July 2 2022 – Day 1 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour

Riding from Harare to Namibia to raise money and awareness for the pensioners of Zimbabwe.

Distance 156 kilometers
Time 9 hrs 14 min
Av heart 126 bpm
Max heart rate 172 bpm

Today was the start of one of the world’s most epic multistage cycle events. And the Tour de France also started today.

I am a big Primoz Roglic fan. I’m hoping his Tour got off to a better start than mine.

10 minutes before the start I asked if anyone had seen my Camelbak. I was in a panic. On a 3125 kilometer Tour Camelbaks can be considered essential equipment. Normally I wait for the Tour to get underway before I start losing shit.

No one had seen my Camelbak.. Which was not surprising considering I’d left it at home. Alas. I fear I have pinned a large Dick of the Day target on my back instead.

We enjoyed a rock and roll send off from Isuzu Autoworld in Chisipite with a huge crowd of well wishers and fellow riders. We had ambulance escorts complete with flashing and motorbike outriders stopping traffic at the robots. Briefly I felt Presidential. I think the motorbike guys might have even enjoyed more than us.

Send Off At Autoworld

Riding beneath the skyscrapers and through the very middle of Harare CBD City was very cool. I cannot remember when last I ventured in to the city centre. It was cleaner than expected, apart from the filth and all the homeless living on the streets, all very at odds with the futuristic pedestrian walkway erected over Samora Machel that must have cost millions and millions.

The downside of riding through the City Centre is that trees behind which a person can sneak a wee are few and far between. Alas. My bladder, overawed by the occasion, was full to bursting again just minutes after having had a wee. I was in full panic when we crossed First Street. It is hard to ride a bike with legs crossed and eyes watering.

Eventually I found a tree by the Sheraton large enough to hide behind. Turns out the tree was large enough for two people. The other person, an early morning commuter waiting for his lift, was rather alarmed when I rushed up with my willy already hanging out. I composed myself as best I could, not easy with your Willy hanging out and commenced weeing, unfortunately all over my pink lip balm which had fallen to the floor. I sincerely hope my lips don’t chafe.

I think shambolic could actually be a Shona word used to describe traffic on the roads of Harare, or the urban planning or rather the lack thereof on the outskirts of Harare. Both are shocking and make for exciting bike riding. Our visitors from Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand were wide eyed, and a bit saddened by how tatty things had become since they lived here.

I don’t have many regrets in life. Only having one of Ian Kinnaird’s delicious bacon rolls is one of them. Big thanks to CCC Pigs for hosting our first and very welcome breakfast stop.

We rode Harare to Kadoma 4 years ago on the first Old Legs Tour to Cape Town. The volume of traffic has doubled with every unlicensed Honda Fit driver having spawned another unlicensed Honda Fit driver. And double the number of 30 ton rigs plowing the road. The miners are obviously busy busy. But thank God for a generous yellow line.

On The Kadoma Road

There were a lot of firsts today on our 156 km ride .It was Howard Thompson’s furtherest ride by more than 30 kilometers. And it was also his first time using a Camelbak. It was also George Fletcher’s longest ride. Born in 1941, I can’t but feel George is leaving his record breaking a bit late in life.

George rode with a spring in his step all day. Worried that he would burn out, I wanted to tell him to ease off a bit but couldn’t catch him to tell him. Annoyingly he sped as we neared Kadoma. George was excited to be riding back into his childhood. George left Kadoma High School in 1959, the year I was born.

Apparently what the other riders enjoyed was a tail wind today all the way. I never noticed it. My 27 kilometer average speed was all down to hard endeavor. At one stage we were wizzing along at 34 kph. I don’t even sprint that fast. But we were still able to spend 9 hours in the saddle, mostly because we punctured often.

Howard was the first to puncture. He has never repaired a tubeless tyre before and was briefly very impressed with my efforts to repair. That should rather read very briefly, which is how long it took for his tyre to go flat again. I blame my less than stellar success on the very pretty German girl on You Tube who tutors me on bike repairs.

But practice makes perfect. I also stopped to help Nik Crash Bellwald and Alan Crundall and actually fixed Alan’s puncture, until he buggered things up by insisting on neatly trimming my plug. Apparently Alan’s sock drawer at home is neat and tidy. NB Alexandra Bellwald- there is no need to panic, your dad didn’t crash. We’re just using his old nickname to avoid confusion with the other Nick.

Brad and Darrell from Chegutu joined us in Selous and we were joined in Chegutu by a larger Kadoma contingent headed up by Charlie Robertson and Bruce Newman. Our home for the night is the Kadoma Golf Club.

We received a hugely heartwarming welcome from the Kadoma Chegutu community. They are good people. And very considerately made little noise at the urinal. By way of explanation, Adam, Alan and I slept in the men’s toilet. They are well appointed with carpets and everything, and not as noisy as the squash courts where others were snoring.

Kadoma Rest Stop

We needed a good night rest because Adam told us our next day ride will be twice as hard with 131 kilometers and 1100 meters of climb up to our bush camp on the top of Gokwe’s Mafungubusi Plateau. Wish us luck.

Until my next blog from somewhere near the middle of nowhere, have fun, do good and do epic 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 lift the pressure of money worries which is very debilitating emotionally.

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

July 3 2022 – Day 2 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour

Riding from Harare to Namibia to raise money and awareness for the pensioners of Zimbabwe.

This blog is coming to you at 03.55 from Gokwe’s Mafungabusi Forest. It is a splendid forest with many tall trees stretching away into the distance as far as the eye can see. Winnie the Pooh would be happy to live here.
The blog is early today mostly because I’ve been lying all night listening to the night sounds of Africa, which unfortunately include an endless stream of 30 ton rigs.

The Mafungabusi Forest is 100,000 hectares big but Dirk Fourie sited our camp right next to the Gokwe Highway for ease of access. Dirk is a Gokwe resident and knows the area like the back of his hand.

Conveniently we also have a scotch cart track running between the tents through the middle of the camp which adds to the charm. True story, a lady rushing home on her donkey scotch cart stopped yesterday evening to give us a bucket of free sweet potatoes. We must have looked hungry. Which isn’t surprising as Adam has had us riding up big bloody hills all day.

Worrying about Adam’s false prophecies is the other thing that kept me awake all night. Along with no hippos and no crocodiles, Adam faithfully promised me it would be downhill all the way to Swakopmund.

Today was properly brutal, 126 km long with 1100 meter of up. We rode out of Kadoma at 06.30. Adam, Alan and I were refreshed after our night spent next to the men’s urinal. Mark Johnson was less refreshed after his night in the squash court, because George Fletcher and Crash Bellwald snore apparently.

To while away the kilometers Alan and I played car cricket on the ride out of Kadoma. We kept the rules simple – 1 run for a car, 4 runs for a pickup, 6 runs for either a bus or a big truck. A passing Honda Fit was out, clean bowled. Because Alan is from Australia, I tweaked the rules to exclude sandpapered balls and bowling underhand.

With blue skies overhead and an endless road in front of us, I thought we were in for a cracker of a 5 day test, but alas the pitch was rendered unplayable by an endless stream of Honda Fits. Having scythed through Alan’s entire batting line up twice for just 7 runs, I won the game inside of 20 kilometers and before we turned north towards the Empress Nickel Mine and Gokwe beyond.

The Empress road is completely knackered in places with only the vaguest memories of the tar that once was, almost rendering the road closed to vehicle traffic, apart from Honda Fits which are go anywhere All Terrain Vehicles. I think Bear Grylls drives a Honda Fit.

No Tar

The Empress road was best ever muti. I had long ago written it off in my mind as bland and boring, nonstop thorn-scrub, but the real-life version was beautiful bush full of mopani trees resplendent in their autumnal golden browns, and tall mukwa trees and even taller baobabs, and lots of other trees whose names escape me. It is beautiful bush.

The people in Gokwe are nice, even the Honda Fit drivers. Unlike their Harare counterparts, the Gokwe Honda Fit brigade are kind and courteous and quick to share the road with us. And they were also quick to share the love. We rode in a cacophony of goodwill all day with hooters hooting and people waving and cheering us on. Please be impressed with my use of the word cacophony.

Adam taught me how to share the love back at them in sign language but because I am easily confused and less than fluent, I think I spent half the day telling surfer dudes to hang ten.

Alan and I rode at the very back of the peloton sweeping for stragglers and strugglers, but saw none. We stopped for a drink next to a man herding his cattle. His name was Ezekiel. His cattle were named Blackman, White Face, Saddam and Asian. I don’t think Ezekiel was very Woke.

Resplendent in my glittering rainbow Dick of the Day tutu and pink lip balm, I think I worried Ezekiel. My pink lip balm worries me as remains slightly salty to the taste after yesterday’s urinary mishap.

But not as much as Adam Selby has me worried. After almost taking a wrong turning in the middle of nowhere, Adam told me that someone had changed the language settings on his Garmin to Slovenian, and did I know if Da meant Yes?

Alan Crundall experimented briefly with tyre pressure of 60 p.s.I. I say briefly because that is how long it took for his tyre to explode, causing Al Watermeyer to soil his riding shorts thinking we’d ridden into the Ukraine.

Thankfully the Ukraine is a world away. We are not missing the news of the world one iota and are enjoying our best ever adventure. Today we will ride 112 kilometers through Gokwe Center and down the escarpment to our bush camp night stop bear the Karoi Binga highway. Please be invited to follow us even though we ride slow like paint dries. Please also follow the donate prompts on www.oldlegstour.com.

In closing I’d like to wish my lawyer Howard Thompson a happy happy birthday. Enjoy your day too much

Until my next blog – have fun, do good, do epic – 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 lift the pressure of money worries which is very debilitating emotionally.

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

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