Days 25 and 26

July 26 – Day 25 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour

From the one horse town of Warmquelle to the other one horse town of Palmwag

Kilometers – 92
Time – 7 hrs 34 min
Av Heart Rate – 123 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 160 bpm

The worst days of my childhood were porridge days. I was a boarder at Vumba Junior School briefly. The matron was a Mrs Churchill. There was no Mr Churchill. I think she murdered him. She was that scary, if Hitler had come up against her in World War Two, he would have sued for peace.

But easily the worst thing about Mrs Churchill was her porridge. It was brown like mud, but stank worse. One mouthful of the stodgy sludge was too much, but you couldn’t leave the dining room until you’d finished a 5 kg bowl of the foul stuff. I would clunk my teeth and gag on every mouthful.

All porridge days were bad, but some were worse than others. My worst bowl of porridge I started eating when I was 8 and only finished when I was 9. Yesterday’s ride reminded me of one of those worst porridge days.

We left our Ongongo Waterfall Campsite in high spirits and wonderfully rested after a rest day spent doing not a lot. One of the dogs we’d adopted didn’t want us to leave and bit our front tyres and chased after us for the first 5 kilometers.

Apparently we rode through the one horse town of Warmquelle but I didn’t notice either the town, or the horse. The scenery I did notice. It was huge, vast, empty, big vistas that stretched all the way to the horizon, blah, blah, blah, as mentioned in previous blogs.

We saw wild springbok and ostriches in the distance, but no elephants, only elephant shit. It is very cool that wildlife happens outside the game reserves in Namibia.

We rode due south, which was a snag, because the wind was headed due north. We’ve been blessed with the most favorable of tail winds almost all the way from Harare, so we’d forgotten that wind is a 4-letter word when it hits you in the face.

Unbeknownst to me, because I don’t pay attention during briefings, we were also climbing an invisible 2 percent gradient nonstop for the first 50 kilometers. My legs were feeling like they were pedalling through Mrs Churchill’s porridge. I noticed neither the wind nor the gradient, and blamed the hard going on binding brakes and failing wheel bearings instead. I also blamed the road. It was hard gravel, loose in places, soft sand in others.

My porridge legs were such that I stopped at every opportunity. I stopped to shop at an empty roadside shop but bought nothing.

I stopped to talk with a Herero lady all dressed up in her Sunday best even though it was Tuesday.

The Herero ladies wear long dresses that are more like formal gowns, made from the heaviest material. The fashion dates all the way back to when the Germans were boss. It looks quaint but seems crazy that the Herero continue to cling to a harsh and unpleasant time in their history instead of their own now forgotten tribal traditions. Lewis Hamilton would frown upon them, but I think they are cool, even in their heavy dresses.

Hand Made Dolls

We saw no people all day, apart from my Herero ladies, and some tourists who looked at us as though we were mad as they passed us in their air conditioned 4 x4 vehicles.

Jaime and I briefly debated which businesses had the best chances of failing if we launched them on that road from Warmquelle to Palmwag. Our top four not in order are I) a window washing company II) a household appliance repair shop III) a piano tuning and repair shop IV) and a surf shop.

Pickings for woodpeckers got progressively slimmer and the countryside progressively harsher the further south we rode. As we neared Palmwag, the vegetation gave out and rocks took over, apart from some very ugly kind of Euphorbia and some Uber cool trees that wouldn’t look out of place on a U2 album cover. We are now in proper desert.

On The Road

And then there were the hills, almost 1000 meters worth of them. Because I thought I’d heard Adam describe them as mere bumps in his briefing, they were entirely unexpected. And they came one after the other, unrelenting. My porridge legs hated each and every one of them. Based on yesterday’s performance, I have no idea how I climbed Chizarira.

And apparently we have more of the same tomorrow, just worse, with 120 kilometers and 1400 meters of climb on more crap roads, including a monster 26 percent gradient. Already, as I type, I am hating it. But I’m also loving it.

I am enjoying the best adventure of my life. The scenery is out of this world, literally. Namibia is every bit as good as I expected, and then some. I hope to see a desert elephant tomorrow. Although how anything can live in this nothing is beyond me.

We are riding 3125 kilometers through Africa’s harshest landscapes to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. Most of us are well on the wrong side of 60, one of is 73 years young. Please help us help those less fortunate.

Until my next blog from somewhere in the middle of nowhere town called Twyfelfontein ,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 27- Day 26 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour

From Palmwag in the middle of nowhere, through Vrede to Twyfelfontein, both also in the middle of nowhere.

Kilometers – 107 km
Time – 8 hrs 31 min
Av Heart Rate – 119 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 181 bpm

Max Temp – 42 deg as per Nick Selby’s Garmin.

I am blogging to you at 04.00 a.m. from my bedroom beneath a low slung bush in a dusty car park in a town called Twyfelfontein. Oh, how our accommodations have varied on the Tour.

Under The Tree

Because of extreme fatigue, Jenny and I paid for an accommodation upgrade in Palmwag, and enjoyed 5 star luxury. Tonight, again because of extreme fatigue, we’re sleeping on stretchers under the low slung bush in the campsite car park. Which has turned out to be not such a good idea.

Resenting my presence, the insects that live in the bush above my stretcher descended to my pillow an hour ago and tried to eat my head. Alas.

For the record, Palmwag, Vrede and Twyfelfontein are towns in name only. Namibia’s approach to town planning would appear to be quite laid back. First you come up with the name ,then signposts, followed by buildings, etcetera. some time later, possibly. As yet the buildings in Palmwag and Twyfelfontein haven’t happened, although Ryan and I did find a slot machine in Vrede.

The lack of infrastructure is a slight snag as we had Palmwag and Twyfelfontein down as resupply points for luxury items like gas, food water, soft drinks and beer. The lack of beer is especially worrying.

We rode into the desert on Day 26. It was so cool, even though we hit 42 degrees C, according to Nick Selby’s Garmin. We now know that the skeleton part of the Skeleton Coast is derived from the dead mad dogs and Englishmen stupid enough to venture out into the midday sun, leaving just us even-more-stupid Old Legs cyclists.

I saw my first desert elephant today, and a tower of obviously lost giraffe who’d overshot the last edible trees by a hundred kilometers.

Namibian Elephant

We followed the elephant’s footprints for kilometers down the road before we saw him in the flesh. Tracking the elephant was easy. His footprints were huge, dustbin lid sized. Desert elephant are big and grey like normal elephants, but they’ve evolved bigger than normal flat feet to help them walk on sand. I am thinking about having dustbin lids fitted to my bicycle.

Al Crundall, Al Watermeyer and I saw our first full-on sand dune. It was straight out of Lawrence of Arabia. We thought it would be cool if we clambered up to the top of the dune with our bikes for photos but rethought that quickly, and settled for photos at the bottom instead. The words cool and sand dunes should never be used in the same sentence.

This part of Namibia is called the Damaraland. The scenery was huge, vast, empty, big vistas that stretched all the way to horizon, blah, blah, blah, as mentioned in previous blogs, but times by two. Normally the sole preserve of hairdressers and florists, the word gorgeous also applies.

Even though he has never been there, Russell says the Damaraland’s craggy horizons remind him of Utah, where every Clint Eastwood Western was filmed. I was able to gain valuable insight into why Clint travels by horse, and not by bicycle.

Pit Stop

The roads were a horrible mix of strength- sapping soft sand and bone-jarring corrugations. I’ve changed my mind on this 32 times thus far, but think I prefer corrugations over soft sand. On his hard tail, Howard is the complete opposite.

The road was punctuated by some horribly harsh and obscenely steep climbs. With soft sand underfoot, the climbs were zero fun in the heat. Howard and Jaime clocked top speeds of 60 and 58 k.p.h. respectively.

They were almost as fast as the tummy bug that has roared through the peloton and support crew alike, causing the shivers, debilitating headaches and severely leaking bottoms. We are thinking the cause to be either just a tummy bug, or malaria, or heat stroke. Thankfully I am one of a handful who have remained unaffected so far.

The Hills

To lighten the mood in a somber peloton, Al Watermeyer threw me with a dead snake that he found squashed on the road. About 4-foot long, it was a Namib desert snake.

The book describes it as mildly venomous, but I was able to filter out the word mildly as the snake whistled towards me. NB please note that whistled is a figure of speech, because dead snakes don’t make any noise. But I more than made up for the snake’s silence and screamed like a girl and took immediate evasive action, unfortunately directly into the path of Al Crundall riding behind me, who screamed like two girls, before taking his own evasive action. Al also swore like he’d just hit his thumb with a hammer. Somehow Al avoided crashing into me.

Eventually I stopped, but only after putting sufficient distance between myself and the dead venomous snake. Or so I thought, until Pete pointed out helpfully that the snake had wrapped itself around the frame of my bike. Whence upon I resumed my screaming and my evasive action on foot.

And all the while Pete Brodie and Al Watermeyer laughed and laughed. Al Watermeyer says he has never had so much value-for- money out of one dead snake before.

Until my next blog from the Brandberg Massif, 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)

Similar Posts