Old Legs 2018 Tour
Blog Entry Fifteen – D Day minus 26.
It pains me to admit that the state of my bottom is causing me sleepless nights. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve yearned for the day when I’d overhear people talking about me, saying stuff like ‘That Eric de Jong is a real hard arse’. But alas, can’t see that accolade ever getting pinned on me. I must have spent close on 200 hours in the saddle since my first blog, including 10 hours this weekend, and my bottom remains marshmallow soft, tender and bloody sore. Between you, me and anyone else who reads this blog, out of desperation I’ve reverted to a gel saddle and nappy rash cream.
Back after 5 months in KZN, I had a joyous reunion with Bruce Fivas at the back of the Herd peloton this week. It has been a lonely place without him. We compared notes on the causes of sleepless nights. I told him at length about my bottom and he told me how his inability to find Sojwe, Khakhea, Jwaneng and Topisi on comprehensive World Atlas has been making him toss and turn. They’re four of our more obscure overnight stops in Botswana and Bruce has been thinking that they’re a figment of my imagination, serviced by bush paths at best. Courtesy of the 360 degree photo function on Google Maps, I was able to show Bruce photographic proof that they do exist, with tar roads and at least one hut per place.
I am very excited like a kid at Christmas. Bruce brought me two sets of skinny, slick road tyres for my bike back from SA. Bruce said the guy in the Durban bike shop said my average speed could increase by as much 3 to 5 kilometres per hour. Which in my case is the difference between very slow and slow. Instead of getting to Cape Town in 27 days, I’ll be able to get there in just 27 days. Unless of course my reservoir of Vitamin B kicks in. For the last 8 weeks, I’ve offered up my aforementioned skinny buttocks to Sister Debs at Frank Douie’s surgery so she can have at them with a monstrously large syringe full of Vitamin B. (Having just read what I’ve written, I think they could be another reason for sore bottom) According to the small print, the Vitamin B will boost my red blood cell production and help convert food into energy. For 8 weeks, I’ve been a non-believer, the victim of a dud batch. But this weekend, finally, the Vitamin B kicked in. it was amazing. On a certain stretch on my 90 km Sunday ride into the Mazowe Valley, my bottom aside, all was good in my world. My puncture proof tyres were puncture proof and fully inflated, my wheel bearings weren’t making grinding noises and neither were my legs. I felt like I had a full component of red blood cells in attendance, all busy efficiently converting Cerevita breakfast cereal into energy. With the air rushing through the bald bits where my hair used to be, man it felt good. Until I ran out of downhill. At which point the grind recommenced. Alas.
Trying to help remove the grind is what our ride to Cape Town is all about. For so many pensioners, life in Zimbabwe is a remorseless grind, a daily battle to try make ends meet. Having had their worldly savings and pensions reduced to nothing by thirty years of stupid economics, the generation that built our country have to rely on the generosity of others to pay for food, rent or the medicines they need. Thankfully and despite hard times, there are generous others out there. We had a flurry of donations in this week. And I’m very happy to give a big shout out this week to Keith Bell and the team at Cropserve who’ve come on board as Old Legs 2018 Tour corporate sponsors. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all.
With less than 4 weeks to go, our plans are coming together. Jenny and I are the proud owners of an instant Lion Proof tent that even I can put up in under 5 minutes. Dave Whitehead who continues to stress about hungry lions in the Kalahari is very jealous. He has been taking some comfort from the fact that he can ride faster than me, until I reminded him that lions are nocturnal and that his buttocks have more meat on them than mine. And talking of meat, I made up our first batch of finest kind biltong, made from Zimbabwe’s finest beef purchased from corporate sponsors, Dumile Beef. I cannot wait for April the 7th so I can taste it.
Until next week, enjoy and pedal if you can
Eric Sore Bottom de Jong