Days 29 and 30

July 30 – Day 29 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour

From the Brandberg Massif to the other side of the mountain, on our way to the Messum Crater.
Apologies for this blog coming to you a day late but we had no signal in the desert.

Kilometers – 66 km
Time – 7 hrs 09 min
Av Heart Rate – 113 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 163 bpm

We rode around the base of the Brandberg mountain today, from the east side to the west side. That took us the best part of all day.

Namibia is big in a plane, huge in a car, but on a bicycle, it goes on forever, especially if there is deep, soft sand involved. And for the record, the west side of the mountain looks same same like the east side. And also for the record, Namibia remains empty. We saw 2 cars and 1 person the whole day.

Namibian Desert

My Garmin watch clocked my average speed today at just 12 k.p.h. We rode slow because of the sand, but also because there was zero pressure on us for the first time on Tour. Our night stop was a bush camp somewhere in the middle of nowhere, literally, and we had all day to get there. The ride had the last day of school feel to it.

The desert floor on the southern side of the mountain is carpeted with golden grass that stretches away as far as the eye can see, blah, blah, blah. Often it was easier to ride through the grass than on the track, because the desert sand under wheel was firmer and more compact. Riding through the grass was like riding through the lyrics of a Sting song, apart from the aardvark holes.

Previously I knew not a lot about aardvarks, other than where to find them in the phone book. I now know that aardvark holes can comfortably accommodate the front wheel of a bicycle. Going over the front of my handlebars was less comfortable, but luckily the ground broke my fall. And thankfully the aardvark I dropped in on unexpectedly wasn’t home at the time. I don’t want any aardvarks playing dead ants with my head. Judging by their holes, they are big and could do some damage when provoked.

I think I also saw a colony of meerkat holes where we camped. I noticed them when I went off into the bush looking for aardvark holes in which to perform my ablutions. I am not a revengeful person, but my tumble over the handlebars hurt like hell.

The bunny huggers out there can relax because no aardvarks we’re traumatized in the writing of this blog, because I never found a hole in time and had to resort to the shovel.

Our campsite for the night was 10 kilometers short of the Messum Crater, literally in the middle of nowhere, with 3 low slung thorn bushes and nothing much else. As soon as the sun started dropping, it threatened to get bitterly cold. I was very excited to finally deploy my thermal Long John’s.

Break Time

Mark Johnson was less excited to deploy his, mostly because he couldn’t find them in amongst the kitchen sink, etcetera, etcetera. Jono’s kitbag is huge and full of stuff he’ll never find. Because I am a kind and caring person and also because I am precariously perched on 3 Dick of the Day nominations, I rented him my thermal Long John’s in return for his loyalty come Dick of the Day voting through to Swakopmund. He should’ve also thought about renting my raincoat.

Because it never rains in the desert, Jonno decided not to deploy his tent, opting for a stretcher under the stars instead. Predictably, it rained.

Night Camping

Jono woke up at 02.00 feeling cold, wet and far from home. He sat feeling very sorry for himself and ate a comfort bar of chocolate before falling back to sleep asleep again. Jono is missing his family badly. He recently missed out on grandson Oliver’s first steps.

Jono left his home in Australia 4 months ago to paddle the Crocodile Tour and then to ride the Skeleton Coast Tour to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners.

I’d like to pay special tribute to Jono and our other Anzac team mates, Howard Thompson, Al Crundall and Pete Brodie. They have travelled across the world at huge personal expense to push their bodies beyond the limit, day in, day out, to help the people who built the country they once called home, when now have nothing because of two decades of economic idiocy. Alas.

Please support the Old Legs Tour by following the donate prompts on www.oldlegstour.com.
Until my next blog from Mile 108, 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)

July 31 – Day 30 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour

From the Messum Crater to Mile 108

Kilometers – 78 km
Time – 8 hrs 06 min
Av Heart Rate – 116 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 171 bpm

As I type, I can hear the Atlantic Ocean. We skinny dipped in the Atlantic when we reached Mile 108. Suffice to say if ever they feel the need to censor the photos, they will be able to get away with using very small stars.

Mile 108

Mile 108 is a fishing resort, although I’m not sure resort is the right word. Mile 108 quite the most dreary depressing place, like a Siberian gulag, but not as much fun. We are camping in the fishermen huts on the beach. They are the word basic personified, but way better than camping in tents. After 30 days of camping, I’ve hit my camping quota. Jenny hit hers about 29 days ago.

As per normal, it was bitterly cold first up when we pedalled out of our camp in the desert, especially with everything damp from the drizzle.

Extreme heat has been a factor every day in Namibia, but not today. The cold persisted and the wind kept it’s bite. But it is far much better to ride in a jacket than to die of heat stroke.

We rode through a lot of nothing today, as in a complete dearth of anything. That much nothing shouldn’t be memorable, but it was. I’ll remember today’s ride for ever.

We climbed up to a ridge to look down at the Messum Crater. We oohed and ahhed and said wow for 5 minutes, before Ryan’s Garmin worked out that we were still 5 kilometers short of the crater and that we were admiring some random, no name valley instead. I have deleted my photos accordingly.

The landscape we rode through was cut and pasted straight out of a Mad Max movie or Star Wars.

Desert Riders

I saw my first welwitschia today. The welwitschia is Namibia’s national plant. It is quite the ugliest plant. It looks like a botanical bomb blast victim. Wow is an adjective that doesn’t come to mind, until you find out that some of them are hundreds of years old.

I have no idea how anything survives in that landscape. We saw animal spoor and droppings all day, we think either giraffe or oryx, but not a single bird, not a single blade of grass. Although we did see the one horribly lost grasshopper, plus a yellow and black striped bug that may or may not have been venomous, which gave me a hell of fright. We also saw the Usain Bolt of lizards, but only very briefly. He was lightning fast, literally a blur. Russell loves lizards and tried to catch him but didn’t stand a chance.

Al Watermeyer gave me a top tip on my first Blue Cross, always pack a good pair of walking shoes. And so it came to pass and I zimmerframed my bike through large swathes of Namibian desert today.

Impossibly the landscape grew more rugged as we neared the coast, with sand making way for just rocks. At least sand is soft when you fall. The road was pitted with corrugations and I found it easier to ride off road for most of the day. I am not sure how, but my bike coped just fine. If anything, it got faster. I ride a Trek Fuel Ex 8.

The Beach

Touching wood as I type, my Trek has pedaled 12000 kilometers for charity in the last few years, to Mt Kilimanjaro, around the borders of Zimbabwe on the Lockdown Tour, to the Impenetrable Forest in Uganda, and now to Namibia,without a single mechanical, not even a puncture. I love my Trek.

But I love Al Crundall’s bike more. Al is on the 2022 Trek Fuel Ex. I am planning on mugging Al when we get to Swakopmund.

Tomorrow is our penultimate day. We will ride south 108 kilometers to Hentie’s Bay. We will ride on the salt road and against the wind.

We are pedalling to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. Please help us help them.

Until my next blog from Hentie’s Bay, have fun, do good and skinny dip 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)

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