Old Legs 2018 Tour
The Final Blog
Apologies for the delay in getting the last blog out. I have been attending to my fluid intake.
Bruce, Dave and I ride in a social ride group called the Herd. Most Saturday mornings we ride for fun, mostly slowly, in and around the beautiful Mazowe Valley. Leachie is a Lounge Lizard in Bulawayo and he does what we do, but in the Matopos.
The four of us rode our mountain bikes to Cape Town by way of Hotazel and the Kalahari for the fun of it but also to help others less fortunate and also to do epic. I’ve done a stock take to see if we’ve ticked those boxes.
On the Tour, we all belly laughed often, good, deep cleansing laughter. There are a dozen or more things that happened that can still set me off laughing again. So for sure we ticked the fun box.
So far we’ve raised $35993 and still counting. We hope to reach our $55000 target. That will put smiles on many elderly hearts. But more importantly, I think we’ve been able to sensitize people far and wide to the plight of Zimbabwean pensioners. And we’ve also highlighted the amazing, often life saving work done by ZANE, Bulawayo Help Network and Pensioners Aid. They are the most deserving of charities and I am glad that by having fun on our bikes, we’ve been able to help.
For me personally though, the doing epic box was the one I most wanted to tick. Epic is often the opposite of comfortable. I am always telling my granddaughters, aged 11 and 4, that if they have a choice between climbing a tall hill or a short hill for the view, they should go with the tall hill. I make my granddaughters roll their eyes a lot.
On our Tour we rode +/- 3200 kms through deserts, over mountain passes and on a deserted 110 km long dirt road into a town called Hotazel. We were escorted into Gaborone by a motorcade, complete with sirens and flashing lights. I marveled at sunrises and sunsets that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Badger, Dave and I enjoyed a meal at the Manhattan, Cape Town’s oldest gay bar. And I saw wild Meerkats in the desert. So for sure I’m ticking the epic box.
An unexpected bonus on the Old Legs Tour though, has been the goodwill and feel good generated along the way. We made best friends at every turn, like Team Kadoma, and the wonderful folk at Qalisa and the Bulawayo Help Network, and AJ and Debbie Bradnick in Plumtree, and Budgie, Neville and friends in Gaborone , Hendrik and Este in Upington, Jeremy and Emma in Paarl and ...the list goes on. I hope they buy bicycles and ride through Harare so I can pay back some hospitality.
Three things happened on our last ride 80 km ride from Paarl through to the Cape Town Waterfront that put the cherry on top of our amazing feel good.
First up was Lazarus from Chitungwiza who saw the Zimbabwe flags flying proudly from our backpacks as we rode through Bloubergstrand. He stopped so he could play Henry Olonga’s ‘My Zimbabwe’ for us through his car sound system, at volume 10. I teared up properly.
Not longer after, I was riding next to Badger when we rode into the Waterfront. We were greeted by whole bunch of well wishers, gathered to welcome us home. Badger did a double take. There was a lady standing in the crowd who looked exactly like his daughter Angela, living in London. Badger stopped to clean his glasses. She still looked just like Angela. Mostly because it was Angela who’d flown in from London that morning to give Bruce a hug as he crossed the finishing line. More tears.
And then Jen and I were handed a R200 donation from Jean Salmon, an ex Enterprise farmer in her eighties. It was for those pensioners less fortunate than her. “Because there for the grace of God go I” said Jean. And yet more tears. Small wonder, I’m so dehydrated.
We’ve met our fellow Zimbabweans all the way through Botswana and South Africa. We found them building roads, working in laundries, running restaurants, driving taxis. We hugged it up with all of them. And spoke with them at length. All they want is to be able to use the words peace and prosperity in the same sentence. And to be able to go home. They have all deserved better of their leaders. Here’s hoping.
In closing I need to thank Dave Whitehead for all his help on the Old Legs Tour. He slaved on www.oldlegstour.co.zw website for months and it is a thing of beauty. And then he nursed, nagged and cajoled our elderly peloton, pushing us and pulling us on the road for 3168 kilometers.
And then there was Ryan Moss. He added such value to the Old Legs Tour as social media manager, driver, trailer packer and unpacker and photographer and filmmaker extraordinaire. He is such a talent. Watch this space.
And then there was Jenny. She fed us, looked after us, sorted out all the bookings and finances, she helped Ryan with the driving. Her laugh and smile were never far away. If I wasn’t already married to Jenny, I’d ask her to marry me.
I was going to throw my bike in the sea when we got to Cape Town. But instead I let Dave talk me into a 24 km ride this morning around Camps Bay and up Signal Hill. Dave asked when we’re going to do the next Old Legs Tour. I told him as soon as I’ve sorted out my kit bag. And after I’ve edited the 61862 photos on my Go Pro.
Until then, enjoy and pedal if you can
Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.