Riding For Pensioners In Zimbabwe

While we have several initiatives running in Aus around the Tour, any donations you would like to make towards Eric and the team can also be made through ZANE Australia by following the link below. Donations made to ZANE in Australia are tax-deductible – every amount given goes directly to the old folk in Zim who rely entirely on charity for survival.

Many thanks – Nicky Passaportis

08 November 2020

The Third World as Seen from the Saddle – Of Gold and dogs called Cujo and a President who refuses to lose.

After 11 long weeks I am back in the saddle! My eye surgeon is happy with the oil pressure in my left eye and said I was good to ride again, provided I didn’t crash!! Well that all went swimmingly well, until the bloody dog!!

I decided on the Lilfordia loop for my maiden voyage. It is a pretty ride, 50 km through kopjes and candelabra trees, with enough sand and uphill to test my legs after my long hiatus. I was riding up towards a village when the dog came barrelling out, all hackles and teeth. He was that big and angry, he was obviously cross Rottweiler, and for cross, you can read furious.

Because my right eye is like new, I saw the brute coming from a long way off and had plenty of time to deploy my tried and tested three-prong defence strategy. Step one-shit your pants. Step two-quick dismount. Step three-have at the brute with tear gas!

I was able to execute the first phase of the plan flawlessly, but unfortunately, my quick dismount went rather quicker than expected, after I jammed on the front brakes, instead of the back, exiting the bike via the top of my handlebars! Mindful to not land on my good right eye, I landed on my back, my shoulder, my spleen and my pancreas instead. After that, things moved fast, apart from me.

The slavering beast arrived to rip out my jugular with the whites of his eyes showing, and the whites of his teeth, which also had a disturbing tinge of yellow. As per plan, I went to have at the brute with my tear gas cannister but alas, it turns out that landing on one’s spleen and pancreas seriously inhibits one’s ability to breathe, let alone deploy one’s chemical defence systems. I quickly swopped out my fight instincts for my flight ones and tried to flee, but without a breath in my body, writhed around on my back like an upside-down Rhino beetle instead! Luckily, the brute thought I was grovelling and instead of ripping out my throat, he sniffed my bum. Silly animal. The first phase of my defence strategy kicked in immediately, and the beast and his nose fled, vanquished!!

All’s well that ends well! The watching villagers gave me and my 4-point landing a 9 out of 10 for artistic effort, and I was able to eventually pedal away with everything intact, apart from my pride.

Which is more than can be said of Donald Trump, after he became the latest in a very long list of White House officials to be fired from his reality TV show. Bummer dude! Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Just over half of America would appear to be ecstatically happy that Joe is taking over, and just under half, ecstatically sad. Spare a thought for Donald’s golf balls. I have never seen balls clubbed with such venom. And also please feel sorry for the poor White House cat who will have to take cover for the next 10 weeks. Ditto every single person to blame for screwing up Donald’s campaign, apart from himself.

NATO and all of Europe, especially Macron and Merkel, are overjoyed that Donald will be moving out of the White House, but Rudi Giuliani, the Proud Boys, Vladimir Putin, Chairman Kim and the lumberjack President in Brazil not so much. Rudi especially looks like he will have to be dragged out kicking and screaming. I’m guessing he worries that without a Presidential amnesty to hand, Borat will come after him for messing with his 15-year old daughter, even though she is too old for him.

I was border line jealous watching democracy play out in America. It must be very cool to be able to vote out Presidents you don’t like, and after only 4 years, as opposed to 38 years a.k.a. forever. I say border line because we don’t know if Donald will agree to exit, or whether he’ll play his trump card, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. From what I can make out, his accusations of voter fraud centre on buckets of Trump ballots burned by some dastardly Democrats, who filmed their bonfire before considerately sharing the footage with Donald Trump’s son.

The rest of the world will be horrified, but Zimbabwe is well used to Presidents who refuse to lose. Mugabe is in his grave, nodding approvingly.

On the subject of Zimbabwe and matters legal, I’m considering legal action of my own against beggars and street kids now flat out refusing to accept $5 Zimbabwe dollar bank notes, despite assurances from Eddie Cross that we are on the path to recovery. I worry that we’re headed back to 2008, when we are all millionaires, billionaires and trillionaires. Alas.

Having said that, there is no shortage of wealth in Zimbabwe with social media awash with members of the ruling elite, flaunting their wealth, their super cars and their gold. In the context of Zimbabwe’s now modest economy, gold is a big deal with the country hoping to chase down annual production of 100 tons by 2023, which would make Zimbabwe bigger than South Africa!! But alas, deliveries to the Reserve Bank dropped off by 73% in September alone.How The Disgustingly Rich Roll In Zimbabwe

According to Zimbabwe Miners Federation president, Henrietta Rushwaya, the drop in deliveries can be blamed on ongoing shortages of diesel and electricity and also because of the flawed payment system used by the State buyer. And Henrietta should know, not just because of her position in the Miners Federation, but also because she is seriously very connected. For instance, her cousin was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, and is now in the President’s Office; her live in boyfriend is the Prosecutor-General; her sister is the CEO of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation etcetera, etcetera, and previously, Henrietta was the boss of the Zimbabwe Football Association. But mostly Henrietta would know all about why gold deliveries are dropping, because she just got captured at Harare Airport on her way to Dubai with 6 kilos of gold in her luggage. Her accomplice, a senior CIO operative and aide to President Mnangagwa, apparently facilitated the smuggle by turning off all the CCTV cameras in the airport while Henrietta cleared customs.

The country is still trying to get to grips with how Henrietta was caught in the first place, given her connections, although she has distanced herself from the First Lady. Adopting the best ever legal defence strategy since ‘The Dog Ate my Homework’, Henrietta said that in her rush to catch the plane, she grabbed the wrong suitcase.

Zimbabwe watches on with despair, as things go from bad to worse on the ground, especially for our pensioners.


The Old Legs Tour continue to do what they can to make a difference. The South African Old Legs peloton arrived in Clocolan, a small town on top of a mountain in the Orange Free State, after a week of riding. To date, Bruce, Dave and Diedre have ridden 545 km, mostly uphill and mostly in thirty degree plus heat, climbing 9165 metres, which is Mt Everest and a bit. And they still have more mountains in front of them, than behind. By the time they reach Lambert’s Bay on the west coast, they will have climbed Everest 4,5 times. The scenery they are riding through is absolutely stunning, and now firmly ensconced on my bucket list!

The great news is the Old Legs SA peloton is back up to the full complement of four riders for now, with C.J. having been given a 7-day pass by his oncologist. Just typing that has given me goosebumps. Chapeau C.J. – it doesn’t get much more ballsy than that!! Please follow and support C.J., Bruce, Dave, Dierdre, Ryan and Matambo on Facebook and on www.oldlegstour.co.zw.

And more of the same on the other side of the world in Toowoomba, Australia, where Sally Gordon Brander and Allana Chicksen-Smith have just finished baking a mountain of apparently the most delicious samoosas in the world, raising thousands of Aussie dollars for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. Gordon Kent was in charge of quality control and bought most of the samosas to test, adding inches to his waistline in the process, which will hopefully translate into company for me at the back of the bunch on next year’s Tour. Sally and Allana are also selling 2021 Calendars full of amazing photos of the best of Zimbabwe. Please support them by ordering your calendar now. Thank you Sally, thank you Allana.

If you are in Australia, please contribute to the Old Legs ‘Don’t Forget Them This Christmas’ campaign. Contact either Mark Johnson in Buderim or Cate Brodie in Perth to see what you can drop off with them to make a difference. Cate just shared with me a photo of a shipment of adult diapers just in. The diapers will make such a difference, adding dignity to the life of a pensioner unable to afford such luxuries. For those who would also like to help, please refer to the contact numbers in Aussie, the U.K. and South Africa below.

Back in Zimbabwe, the Old Legs Tour hosted a fund raiser at the Tin Roof, raising over $4000 for our soon to be launched Medical Emergency Fund, inspired by an old chap who passed away recently, shortly after enduring a double foot amputation in his kitchen at home, because he couldn’t afford hospital fees. Thank you to all the people who helped make the fundraiser happen.

And thank you again for the one thousandth time to Adam and Linda Selby for hosting the first Old Legs Tour Sunday lunch for a group of 15 old folk. It was so nice to see pensioners enjoying, and hear them laughing, mostly at Carl’s story about how my toilet tent blew away on Tour. And a huge thank you to Michelle Wilson and all at Prime Sole for gifting the pensioners styling pairs of shoes. Old Legs Sunday lunches will be ongoing in 2021. If you’d like to host one, please let me know.Zimbabwe Pensioners

In closing, thank you to the kind gentleman who took time out to closely inspect my vital statistics on the big screen in the front of the stationary bikes at Rob Wallace’s Life Cycle, and to point out to me at length that I was generating zero watts, as in not one single watt, whereas Adam Selby was generating in excess of 350 watts. He worked out that Adam could power a small refrigerator, whereas he reckoned I wouldn’t even light up a light bulb. He likened me to a power cut.

I think the old guy was first attracted across the carpark to Life Cycle by the sounds of my whimpering, after the cramps in my legs developed cramps of their own, and also by Rob and Adam guffawing. For those not in the know, guffaws are like laughter, just louder and less controlled.

Having watched every episode of Grey’s Anatomy more than once, courtesy of DSTV, I know that friends are supposed to react to medical emergencies, like cramping for instance, with empathy, by wiping fevered brows, peeling grapes, fetching chocolates and saying reassuring things like “There, there, you’ll be all right.” You are not supposed to guffaw.

Suffering guffaws in public and the old guy likening me to a power cut are why I was so looking forward to getting back on a real bike, where you are allowed to stop pedalling to pick up dropped water bottles, and dropped sun glasses, and dropped water bottles again, and dropped sunglasses again, unless of course there are bloody dogs about!!

Until my next blog, enjoy, survive and, if your name is Donald, please concede-

Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

* 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)