Days 6 7 and 8

July 7, 2022 – Day 6 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour

Pedalling hard from Milibizi to Sidinda Fishing Camp, Deka to bring awareness of the plight of old age people in Zimbabwe.

Distance – 99 km
Time – 8 hrs 10 min
Ascent – 963 m
Av Heart Rate – 118 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 169 bpm
Max Temp 35 deg C

Impossibly the Skeleton Coast Tour gets better and better, with each day more stand-out than the best-ever-day before. Impossibly the days also get tougher. But all of us are riding into the levels of fitness that we should have started with, to the point where we look forward to next hill so we can enjoy the view.

We had Day 7 down as a doddle but that came and bit us on our bottoms, some harder than others.

The decent tar road out of Milibizi was marred by a series of horribly pointless hills. Pointless hills are hills that hurt you all the way to the top, and then when you get there, there isn’t even a view to enjoy or a sense of achievement, just another bloody hill in front of you. It is best described as a grind.

Riders

But nothing as compared to the daily grind suffered by the water collectors that we saw working a dry river 5 kilometers out of Milibizi.

Jaime, Ryan and I stopped to commiserate with 2 women and a young man already sweating in the river bed, and it wasn’t even 8 in the morning.

The villagers had dug a large meter deep hole in the sandy river bed. As the water seeped slowly into the hole, they filled their 25 liter buckets, all 17 of them, cup by cup. And when the buckets were full, they had to hump the half ton of water 30 meters out of the steep riverbed to their waiting oxcart for the last 5 kilometer schlep home.
They told us it was a daily chore for them. Worst of all, the water tasted crap, horribly brackish, the opposite of fresh.

That this is happening in the 21st Century not 10 kilometers from one of the world’s largest fresh water lakes in the world is stupid and lazy governance taken to a whole other level. Alas. The villagers are also stupid for allowing their leaders to get away with it.

We are eating like gannets. In fact we make gannets look bulimic. According to his Garmin, Nick Selby burnt 5900 calories on yesterday’s ride. That is equivalent to 20 cheeseburgers. The best food on Tour, apart from all the food prepared by Linda and Jenny, are Ryan’s mom’s biscuits. Helen baked us 18 kilos. I don’t think they will last to Vic Falls. I have no idea why Ryan left home.

Thankfully we turned off the tar 20 kilometers out of Milibizi back on to a dirt road less travelled. Even with corrugations, it was so good to ride through empty bush, with no cars and no people. I rode slowly at the back on my own, soaking the moment up like a sponge.

Dirt Road

On your own can get boring so I took time out to defeat Russell and Keegan on the walkie-talkies in the Grand Final of Skeleton Coast General Knowledge Quiz. Up for grabs, the losing teams jelly babies to Swakopmund. It was like clubbing seals. They didn’t even know Superman’s adopted mom’s first name.

The sun wasn’t high in the sky and already it was brutally hot. There were zero Mad Dogs and Englishmen to be seen,just stupid Old Legs on their bicycles. It must have been 35 degrees today. I have no idea what happened to winter in this part of the world

Thankfully I was riding with Al Watermeyer when we crossed the Gwaai river. There is something in the Watermeyer genes that does not permit them to cross a river on a hot day without frolicking in it. Al, Pete, Russell and I enjoyed the best skinny dip ever.

Somehow we managed to climb 1000 meters today in 35 degree heat. The worst of the hills happened in the last 20 kilometers. They were stupidly steep with gradients of 15 and 16 percent, one after the other, after the other, after the other. I rode the exact same route in 2020. Because I have an uncanny ability to filter out bad memories and severe trauma, they were entirely unexpected.

Unfortunately I was also able to filter out 15 of the last 18 kilometers allowing me to reliably inform Al that we only had 3 kilometers to camp, and no more hills. Al celebrated the good news with a cold beer. Which turned out to be rather like Edmund Hillary popping the cork on the foothills of Everest before even Base Camp. Thankfully Al was too knackered to punch me when eventually we struggled into camp 2 hours later.

Speak Hear Seen No Evil

Also unfortunately, because we are athletes and in the public eye, I had to bust Al for Dick of the Day for denigrating the Tour into a booze cruise.

In closing, a shout out to Alexandra Bellwald, your dad hasn’t crashed yet, and we’re thinking we might have to reassign his nickname Crash elsewhere. He is enjoying his best adventure ever hugely, but his bottom not so much, on his hard tail bike on the corrugated roads. Ditto Howard Thompson.

We are all having our best adventure ever. I have resisted the urge to look at my phone and don’t even know who won the last Grand Prix. I did pick up on a rumor though that Boris has been booted. Which will be a pity. I did like Boris. He once described Jeremy Corbin as a benign herbivore. The hyena pack that is the British media will soon have another poor bugger to feed upon.

We rode into signal briefly somewhere between Chizarira and Milibizi. The first message to hit my phone was from a widow in her sixties needing for a new valve for her heart. She lost her husband, her pension and everything she owns in the hyperinflation. She has been quoted $30,000 for the operation. Currently, she struggles to even pay her rent. Her appeal has given more power to my legs.

We are riding to raise money for Zimbabwe’s pensioners, exactly like her. Please help us help her by following the donate prompts on www.oldlegstour.com

Please also be invited to join Brad Johnson of Z Sculptures at the famous Nambor Garden Show in Queensland for great deals on your recycled Garden art sculptures made in Zimbabwe. Z Sculptures is owned by Olds Legs veteran Mark Johnson. This advert has cost Mark all his jelly babies to Swakopmund.

Until my next blog from Victoria Falls, please 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 8 2022 – Day 7 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour


From Sidinda Fishing Camp, Deka to Vic Falls

Distance – 107 km
Time – 8 hrs 18 min
Ascent – 966 m
Av Heart Rate – 115 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 160 bpm
Max Temp 35 deg C

Tout selling Billion
Riding mountain bikes certainly has broadened my horizons. Previously I had no idea that watching a man urinate whilst standing on an army of carnivorous army ants could be such fun. Alas. Poor Alastair Watermeyer. I don’t know how many times I have told him to be more alert to the dangers in the wild, no matter how small.

Plunging your hand into the aforementioned army of carnivorous army ants for 30 seconds is less fun than though. Inspired by Laurie Watermeyer’s antics in Uganda, I was able to bravely hold my hand in the ants for 1.5 seconds before I had to rip it away screaming, for fear of losing digits, or indeed entire arms. The army ants in Zimbabwe are next level vicious and eat Ugandan army ants for breakfast. But I am seriously starting to think that the Watermeyer brothers are the type of boys my mother warned me not to play with all those many years ago.

Al Watermeyer and I swept for struggling stragglers at the back of the peloton on the ride from Sidinda to Vic Falls all day but to no avail. I think stragglers ride their bikes faster than us.

Dirt Riders

Al Crundall joined us towards the end of the ride. He is starting to buy into our theory that days last longer if you ride real slowly and that these days are the best days of our lives.

Sidinda Fishing Camp overlooking a quiet corner of the mighty Zambezi River is next level beautiful and was such good muti for our tired legs after a tougher than expected ride out of Milibizi. At first glance, the River looks like a mirrored millpond, with little sign of the power of the raging river beneath.

Sidinda is a small camp with only 4 well-appointed rooms. Rather than put up their swags on the green rolling lawn, the overflow guys elected to sleep on the floor of the open plan bar lounge area and were paid a midnight visit by a grazing hippo manicuring the lawns.

I have placed Sidinda on my radar, Apparently, even I could catch tiger fish there.

I was able to reassure my riding companions that the 100 kilometers into Vic Falls were relatively flat and benign, apart from fifty kilometers of climb, punctuated by a series of sharp, viciously steep, not-so-short climbs that I had again been able to erase from memory. My ability to memory lapse is a well used defense mechanism.

The last climb was that steep, Adam’s Garmin blanked out trying to process the data, but he thinks it was close to 20 percent.

That it was off-the- scale hot with not a mad dog or an Englishman in sight apart from Mark Johnson did not help and we wilted badly on the climbs. We have to take electrolytes so seriously going forward.

The tubes vs tubeless tyre debate which has raged in the peloton since the day one of the Tour burnt out after Nik Crash Bellwald punctured his last spare tube beyond repair. We’ve lost track of how many punctures Crash has suffered. Crash is also able to memory lapse and has continued to defend tubes as the way forward steadfastly. Not for nothing, Nik’s other nickname is stubborn

He is now riding the spare bike, a splendid, bright orange Scott with the same knobbly Maxxi tyres that allow the other riders to laugh at devil thorns. We are unlikely to get Crash off the Scott again before the Tour ends-even after he replaces his tubes. He says the difference between his old hard tail and the Scott is like night and day.

The Gorge

We detoured via the Gorges Lodge perched high above the River overlooking the 17th rapid, even though it is currently under going refurbishment after being closed down for Covid. We took timeout to marvel at the power of the River and the rugged sweeping grandeur of the gorges below the Falls. I hope that spectacle is not lost to the planned Batoka Gorge Power Station.

We enjoyed a deserved and badly needed rest day in the Falls. We were hosted by Lokuthula Lodges and luxuriated in hot baths and comfortable beds and overate at the Boma Restaurant. The food was that good, Russell overate 3 times.

Lokuthula Lodge

It was so good to see Victoria Falls full of international tourists enjoying the Seventh Wonder of the Natural World, and their best holidays ever. We rode through the Falls in 2020 and it was a ghost town.

The Falls was also full of other mountain bike riders there to tackle the 3 day Victoria Falls Cycle Challenge Race, right up there as one of the toughest, most rugged and most scenic multi-stage cycle events on the calendar.

We enjoyed the rugby at the Boat Club and caught up with friends, including Darryl and Brad who rode with us from Selous to Kadoma on Day 1. Some of us enjoyed the rugby more than others.

I opted not to enjoy the Tour de France. Watching men ride their bicycles fast on television would have been too tiring. And it would have put a strain on my bottom’s ability to memory lapse.

Our rest day could not have come sooner. But I am excited to get going again. We ride into Zambia tomorrow, across the iconic Vic Falls Bridge and head west towards the Angolan border. I so love exploring new roads and new countryside.

We were reminded why the pensioners we ride to help have no pensions by a tout on the streets of Vic Falls who tried to sell us an old 100 billion dollar bank note for 5 US$.

For sure we are heading back towards those heady days of being billionaires and trillionaires faster than me on a bike. Apparently the black market rate in Harare jumped from 680 to 790 overnight last week.

Please follow us on www.oldlegstour.com, and follow the donate prompts.

We are supported this year by a strong contingent out of Australia and New Zealand. Alan Crundall, Peter Brodie, Mark Johnson and Howard Thompson have so added value to the Tour and to our cause.

Please help them help others by donating to:

Account name ZANE Australia
BSB 032 023
Account number 305217
SWIFT Code: WPACAU2F
Financial Institution Code: WBC
Beneficiary: ZANE Australia
465 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood NSW 2067

Alas. Today we said goodbye to Keegan Anderson. Keegan has seconded us all the way from Harare. He is a splendid young man and we look forward welcoming him back on the Old Legs Tour. We have been joined by Gary de Jong. More bloody paparazzi to worry about.

Until my next blog from Western Zambia, 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 10 2022 – Day 8 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour


From Vic Falls to Kazangula

Distance – 91 km
Time – 7 hrs 56 min
Ascent – 455 m
Av Heart Rate – 114 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 182 bpm

NB I maxed my heart rate trying to dice a guy on a motorbike but I came second.

This blog is coming to you from Kazangula, the Zambian version, not the Zimbabwean one. I have long wanted to travel to where 4 countries meet -Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia and am very excited to be here.
The Zambian border officials allowed us to ride across the new bridge today, but only as far as the third upright pillar.

The Smoke

We jumped off our bikes and stood and took time to marvel at the bridge itself with it’s clean futuristic, sweeping lines; at the power and expanse of the mighty Zambezi River as it surged below us headed for Vic Falls and beyond. But mostly we marveled at how badly Zimbabwe cocked up by not participating in the Bridge project, and the cost of the opportunity lost.

I’m thinking that on those days when he is feeling especially grumpy, President Ed stands on the Zimbabwean corner and throws rocks at all the ZALAWI trucks that used to transit through Zimbabwe, but not anymore.

I can see why the transporters much prefer routing via Botswana and Zambia instead where they can enjoy good roads, no toll gate after toll gate after toll gate, but best of all, no endless queues and corruption at Beitbridge and Chirundu. The new one- stop border post between Zambia and Botswana is shiny and efficient and looks like a European airport on the inside. Alas.

We rode just 91 kilometers today because Adam allowed for 4 hour delays at the border. We rode west on excellent tar, just like a Zimbabwean highway, but without the potholes and the kamikaze Honda Fit drivers.
We exited Zimbabwe over the Victoria Falls Bridge. It was epic. Apparently Cecil John Rhodes sited the bridge such that people crossing would be able to feel the spray from the Victoria Falls on their faces. Rhodes died the year construction on the bridge finished in 1902.

Our bike trailer almost didn’t exit Zimbabwe, because Adam is very careful to keep important documentation in a safe place, unfortunately at home. Big thanks to Paul Connolly who hustled and bustled for us on a Sunday, certifying true copies of the registration documents and letters of permission to cross borders. Adam is now resplendent in the Dick of the Day tutu and wig while Ryan enjoys the Hero’s tall hat for remaining unflappable in the crisis.

Aerial View

I first visited Livingstone in the early 80’s and remember feeling sorry for the Zambians at the chaos Kaunda had wreaked upon their economy, resulting in empty supermarket shelves and silly prices with many, many naughts. Well they certainly have moved on from those not-so-heady days.

We enjoyed Livingstone the town, especially the Shoprite supermarket like kids in the proverbial sweetie shop. Linda and Jenny were able to shop up a storm for supplies. In solidarity with Ukraine, Al Watermeyer and I bought delicious Hungarian sausages instead of traditional Russian sausages. Damn you, Putin.

We rode through Zambia’s Mosi- Ao-Tunya National Park. Sweeping at the back of the peloton, Al and I saw zebra and a magnificent white-backed vulture.

Jaime rode with us at the back on doctors orders after suffering a strain of the diaphragm after over exerting on one of the first week’s stupidly steep climbs.

The Old Legs Riders vs Support Olympics continue. Following Russell and Keegan’s dismally pathetic performance in the General Knowledge Quiz and in the ‘ I Spy With My Little Eye’ classifications. On a 3125 kilometer , 11 strong bicycle tour, Russell and Keegan were unable to guess C for cyclist.

I was starting to regard them as low-hanging fruit there for the plucking. But Russell recovered strongly yesterday and put in a winning performance in the final of the Riders vs Support Belly Flop competition. We were very hot and sweaty after our ride and our quirky and very bling little guest lodge has a beautiful swimming pool. Alas. Even though I have been eating like a horse, I stood no chance and Russell’s impressive tummy splash far eclipsed mine.

Tomorrow we continue west as far as the Zambia town of Mwandi, which looks to be in a swamp on the Zambezi River. Adam has told me I can expect to see shoebills but I am sure he is fibbing. I fully expect to see many mosquitoes and will deploy the mozzie net in our tent, provided I can negotiate a decent lease back from Howard.
We are riding 3125 kilometers to the Skeleton Coast to raise money for Zimbabwe’s pensioners.

We have received an appeal from Mary Jones, not her real name, a widow in Zimbabwe staring down a shortfall equivalent to 1000 Aussie dollars on an urgent operation that she simply cannot afford. In response we have received a 100 Club challenge out of Australia from Julie McKenzie in Budrrim.

She is looking for 9 others to join her 100 Club by matching her $100 start- up contribution, or 90 others at $10 each, to help Mary reach her $1000 target. We’re hoping others will be challenged to get their own 100 Clubs up and running, and so on and so on. Please keep this thread going and help us help others.

In closing, big hugs from afar to Jocelyn, Cailyn, Colton and Tegan – we love and miss you guys lots.

Until my next blog from the swamps of Mwandi, enjoy and have fun, do good and 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)

Similar Posts