We crossed into Tanzania this morning and immediately, those of us from Zimbabwe were discriminated against terribly

The border post money changers were busy dealing with incoming travelers, changingSouth African Rands, Malawian Kwacha, Zambian Kwacha for local TZ Shillings but as soon as I offered up Zim money he rudely told me sorry no and got busy changing Meticals from Mozambique instead. “Not so fast my good man” I told him sternly, “Zimbabwe is a bonafide member of COMESA, SADACC and the AU and according to Eddie Cross, our money is the strongest in the region and better you start taking Zim currency ,either RTGS or bond dollars or even Ecocash or risk a major international incident.”

The money changer and his friends, there was a whole rugby scrum of them by now, told me no, Zimbabwe money it is shit. I was incensed. But for the fact we were already outside, I would have taken it outside. “Zimbabwe is a great and proud sovereign nation”, I told the money changer. “Impugn her currency and you impugn me” “I don’t care” he said, “Zimbabwe money, it is shit.”
I told him we had the biggest waterfalls in the world and, until last year, we boasted the world’s oldest and longest lasting President. “I still don’t care” he said, “Zimbabwe money it is still shit.”
“Once in 1957, we even famously beat the New Zealand All Blacks at rugby.”
“I don’t care, it is still shit.”
“How about I give you a special buy one RTGS and get four free deal?”
“No.”
“I’m going to tell my Minister of Foreign Affairs on you and he used to be a General and he’ll most probably bomb Tanzania.”
“Still no.” Damn those money changers.

Aggrieved, we crossed into Tanzania nonetheless and started pedaling. And immediately we got a sense of the country’s vastness, not least of all because our average speed had bled off to under 10 kph on account of the hills in Tanzania, of which there are many. When I eventually climbed to the top of our first big hill, I looked out over Tanzania and as far as I could see in any direction were other hills stretching away as far as the eye could see. I think when God made Africa, he had a lot of lumpy bits leftover and he stuck them all in South Tanzania.
Whilst on the subject of lumpy, my front tyre started bulging alarmingly like it was pregnant on a downhill descent. I tried to carry on riding as best I could but it was horrible, like walking with a stone in your shoe. Dave suggested I bind the bulge tightly with duct tape, mostly so he could capture me cocking the repairs up on camera. Duct tape is a bike rider’s best friend and I wrapped my entire stock around my tyre tightly, unfortunately missing the bulge, mostly wrapping a section of perfectly good tyre. Alas. I carried on limping until the support vehicle caught up and Dave changed my front tyre quickly while I supervised.

We rode through the town of Tukuyu which was all noise and crazy bedlam. Tanzanians seem more affluent than Malawians with more motorbikes than bicycles. I saw a road sign telling road users to observe road signs.

We’re spending the night outside Tukuyu at the beautiful home of Rob and Petra Clowes, ex Chipinge now living in Tanzania. Rob and Petra are in SA attending their daughter’s university graduation but have opened up their beautiful home to us. And Rob’s friends Paul Metcalfe, ex Shamva, drove 63 km from Mbeya to cook us up a storm of giant T bone steaks, roasted chickens, boerewors and salads. We’re blown away by the hospitality. Not many would open up their homes to 16 strangers. It is great to see how Zimbabweans have been able to pick up the pieces of their lives and start afresh successfully after being booted out of homes and off farms by their government for being white Zimbabweans. But it is also sad because chances are they’ll never come home again. Alas. Tanzania’s gain, Zimbabwe’s loss.

Adam entered the Dick of the Day stakes yesterday after being nominated by Mark for riding his bike without a chain. And all along I thought Mark and Adam were friends.

I’d like to acknowledge our sponsors. Thank you to Andy, Stuart, Zelda, Dougie and all the other guys at FX Logistics. And thank you to all KFC not just for your sponsorship but for the ongoing assistance provided to Zimbabwe’s pensioners.
If you would like to follow their lead, please go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/oldlegstour. In Zimbabwe, transfer to Bulawayo Help Network via their CABS Platinum Account number 1124733450 or their
Ecocash merchant number 139149.

I’d like to wish my mom back home in Zimbabwe a happy birthday. I’m sorry I can’t be there to eat all your cake.

Tomorrow we’ll climb another 2000 plus meters up on to the Kitulo Plateau. We’ll be camping on a dairy farm at high altitude. It will be very cold and I’m looking forward to renting out my thermal underwear.

Until then, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can- Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

I’m blogging to you from a white sandy beach at Kaporo, a one time slaving station on the northern shores of Lake Malawi

We’re camping rough, between a fishing village and a community of rice farmers. A delicious curry and rice dinner followed by no mozzies, a breeze off the lake, a near full moon above and the sounds of frogs loud all around make for the perfect evening.

Our day in the saddle wasn’t too dusty either. We pedaled out of Chitimba at 06.30 and rode north on good tar with the kindest of tailwinds at our backs. We rode along the lakeshore for 130 km to Kaporo which is 25 km short of the Tanzanian border. We’re all pretty fit by now..We stopped for breakfast and a million photographs and still we arrived at our bush camp before lunch. Hans and Jaap even had time to stop and shop in Kaparo to buy me a new pancake pan. They think my old heirloom frying pan needs to be retired

Riding with the mountains of the Nyika Plateau to our left and Lake Malawi on our right was pretty cool. Mostly we rode through paddy fields. Rice farmers in Malawi are laid back. After harvesting their crops, they dry them on the highway in front of their paddy fields. Cars drive over their crop, people walk over it, ditto chickens and cows. To get to our campsite,we had to ride our bikes over some guys crop. Mark’s not so sure about their health and safety ratings.

So as to allow people out there to follow our painfully slow progress across Africa, Ezytrack stuck a satellite tracking device on my bike. It has many buttons on it. I now know one of them is an SOS button, triggering an alarm at a security company in the USA and should only be used in strict emergencies. Sorry Ezytrack.

According to Carol Joy’s Garmin, we’ve climbed 14500 meters in the last 12 riding days. But the big hills of the Kitulo Plateau are still in front of us with 10500 meters of climb in the next 5 days Tomorrow’s ride is only 87 km packed with 2007 m of climb. And the scary part is the first 25 km is flat. We’re dog legging over the Kitulo Plateau mostly to avoid the heavy traffic in and around Mbeya, but also because of the Old Legs ethos to ride on roads less traveled. This part of the Tour has given me sleepless nights for months. It’s also the part that I’ve been looking forward to the most. Apparently the Kitulo Plateau is covered in wild flowers and is called God’s Garden or the Serengeti of Flowers. Here’s hoping that some are in flower.

The food logistics of the Tour are big like the hills. The riders are burning up over 4000 calories a day. According to Google, we need to be eating the equivalent of 13 Cheeseburgers to stay level pegging in terms of weight. The food that Jen and Linda are putting up is that good, some riders like Dave are seriously in danger of putting on weight. I eat slower than him and he hovers round my plate like a vulture. With interest, Dave now owes me 17 bananas and 47 packets of jelly babies.

We expect the border crossing into Tanzania to be slow and tedious tomorrow. Thankfully all the Tour members remembered to get their yellow fever jabs. Unfortunately Carol Joy kept her yellow fever certificate in a safe place, in her apartment in Germany. Silly girl. Ryan wasn’t able to hand over the DOD necklace to CJ because he managed to lose it. Silly boy. Not surprisingly, Ryan is currently leading on the DOD log, along with Alan.

We’ll be sorry to leave Malawi. It is a beautiful country. The people are many and poor but their smiles are never far away. We’ve loved our interactions with them, Including a cop at the police station at Kaproro called Eric. Zikomo kwambiri a.k.a. thank you big lots Malawi for the last 7 days, best on Tour so far.

We’re pedaling to Mt Kilimanjaro to raise money for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. Please help us help them by going to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/oldlegstour. In Zimbabwe, transfer to Bulawayo Help Network via their CABS Platinum Account number 1124733450 or their E cocash merchant number 139149.

Zikomo kwambiri also to Graeme Murdoch and his team at PHI Commodities for sponsoring the Old Legs Tour. I’d also like to thank Heinrich and all at Greenhouse Technologies in Johannesburg, not just for sponsoring Old Legs but for all the other good work you do on behalf of Zimbabwe’s pensioners

My last shout out goes to Gabby, Izzy, Daegon and little Savannah. You guys are being missed more than you’ll ever know by the greatest Grandpa who ever lived and his wife a.k.a. Granny a.k.a. Adam and Linda.

Until tomorrow from Tanzania, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

It all went swimmingly well on today’s ride from Kande Beach up to Mzuzu, apart from the sandy bits, the rumble strips and the uphill bits. Which unfortunately was pretty much the whole ride.

We had a 3 km wade out through thick, thick sand which grabbed your wheel and worried it like a terrier. Mark Johnson made the most of his momentum loss and had a quick power nap.

Then it was onto the tar and the rumble strips. They’re great for putting a lid on speeding cars but they suck on a bike. They reduce you to a tuning fork with vibrations that viscous they make the fillings in your teeth wobble. On the third set of rumble strips, I lost my extra set of balls. Alas.

And then the hill started, just when I needed the extra balls the most. We climbed and climbed and climbed. Then we climbed some more. Every now and then, the hill threw us a curved ball descent which got you celebrating but only as far as the next corner and then it was back to rise and climbing. Half way through the ascent, Hans and Jaap dropped back to join me, Carol Joy and Alistair in the B Team. Either they’re human or someone put kryptonite in their drinking water. Hans said our brand name kicked in on the climb and for the time on Tour, his legs were properly Old Legs. No such problems for Dave, Alan, Mark, Adam and Nik who powered up. It was damn annoying.

It was one of the longest, harshest hills I’ve ever struggled up. My legs whinged at every pedal stroke with subtle suggestions “How about we turn around and go to Cape Town instead?” I only made it up with help from Jack Johnson, the Chilli Peppers and the Kings of Leon loud in my head.

But you can’t do epic without pain and the hill delivered pain up in spades. I loved it. And importantly, it got the 2000 m of elevation gain in a single ride monkey off our backs.
Southern Tanzania looms large on our horizon with 5 days on the trot of 2000 meter climbs so plenty of pain to come. Alistair and I have never trained this hard for the Blue Cross, now just 8 weeks away.

Ride shorts are getting baggier and bigger throughout the peloton. Either we’re losing weight or our bodies are changing shape. I’m hoping mine is the latter because I don’t have the weight to lose. I’n happy enough with falling off shorts though because they give you an excuse to stop every 10 minutes to pull them up.

This middle bit of Malawi is stunningly beautiful with still some pristine woodlands and rainforests intact. We had our lunch stop in the middle of a commercial rubber plantation and it was fascinating to watch them harvesting sap. It was sad to see huge swathes of rain forest being cleared to make way for more plantation but that’s progress I suppose.

There is far less population pressure as we climb further north. Apparently 80 percent of Malawi’s population live in the south. But we’re still able to pull good crowds at every lunch stop. The cultural interactions are one of the fun parts of the Tour. Alistair flirted with Dick of the Day for scaring children by sticking a massive 5 inch long 2 inch fat caterpillar in his mouth and pretending to eat it. Mark clinched Dick of the Day at the same lunch stop by teaching the same kids how to twerk. Unlike Mylie Cyrus, elderly cyclists need every bit of street cred they can muster and they can’t be seen twerking.

Tomorrow we ride out of Mzuzu, home to Luka and the best Italian restaurant in the world, and head back down to the Lake for our rest day at Chitimba beach. The word down in the sentence above is a misnomer. Apparently we have 1600 m of climb to contend with, and aggressive baboons. Wish us luck.

The pensioners in Zimbabwe need more than luck. They need your help. Please go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/oldlegstour. In Zimbabwe, transfer to Bulawayo Help Network via their CABS Platinum Account number 1124733450 or their E cocash merchant number 139149.
Until tomorrow, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can.

Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

It all went swimmingly well on today’s ride from Kande Beach up to Mzuzu, apart from the sandy bits, the rumble strips and the uphill bits. Which unfortunately was pretty much the whole ride.

We had a 3 km wade out through thick, thick sand which grabbed your wheel and worried it like a terrier. Mark Johnson made the most of his momentum loss and had a quick power nap.

Then it was onto the tar and the rumble strips. They’re great for putting a lid on speeding cars but they suck on a bike. They reduce you to a tuning fork with vibrations that viscous they make the fillings in your teeth wobble. On the third set of rumble strips, I lost my extra set of balls. Alas.

And then the hill started, just when I needed the extra balls the most. We climbed and climbed and climbed. Then we climbed some more. Every now and then, the hill threw us a curved ball descent which got you celebrating but only as far as the next corner and then it was back to rise and climbing. Half way through the ascent, Hans and Jaap dropped back to join me, Carol Joy and Alistair in the B Team. Either they’re human or someone put kryptonite in their drinking water. Hans said our brand name kicked in on the climb and for the time on Tour, his legs were properly Old Legs. No such problems for Dave, Alan, Mark, Adam and Nik who powered up. It was damn annoying.

It was one of the longest, harshest hills I’ve ever struggled up. My legs whinged at every pedal stroke with subtle suggestions “How about we turn around and go to Cape Town instead?” I only made it up with help from Jack Johnson, the Chilli Peppers and the Kings of Leon loud in my head.

But you can’t do epic without pain and the hill delivered pain up in spades. I loved it. And importantly, it got the 2000 m of elevation gain in a single ride monkey off our backs.
Southern Tanzania looms large on our horizon with 5 days on the trot of 2000 meter climbs so plenty of pain to come. Alistair and I have never trained this hard for the Blue Cross, now just 8 weeks away.

Ride shorts are getting baggier and bigger throughout the peloton. Either we’re losing weight or our bodies are changing shape. I’m hoping mine is the latter because I don’t have the weight to lose. I’n happy enough with falling off shorts though because they give you an excuse to stop every 10 minutes to pull them up.

This middle bit of Malawi is stunningly beautiful with still some pristine woodlands and rainforests intact. We had our lunch stop in the middle of a commercial rubber plantation and it was fascinating to watch them harvesting sap. It was sad to see huge swathes of rain forest being cleared to make way for more plantation but that’s progress I suppose.

There is far less population pressure as we climb further north. Apparently 80 percent of Malawi’s population live in the south. But we’re still able to pull good crowds at every lunch stop. The cultural interactions are one of the fun parts of the Tour. Alistair flirted with Dick of the Day for scaring children by sticking a massive 5 inch long 2 inch fat caterpillar in his mouth and pretending to eat it. Mark clinched Dick of the Day at the same lunch stop by teaching the same kids how to twerk. Unlike Mylie Cyrus, elderly cyclists need every bit of street cred they can muster and they can’t be seen twerking.

Tomorrow we ride out of Mzuzu, home to Luka and the best Italian restaurant in the world, and head back down to the Lake for our rest day at Chitimba beach. The word down in the sentence above is a misnomer. Apparently we have 1600 m of climb to contend with, and aggressive baboons. Wish us luck.

The pensioners in Zimbabwe need more than luck. They need your help. Please go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/oldlegstour. In Zimbabwe, transfer to Bulawayo Help Network via their CABS Platinum Account number 1124733450 or their E cocash merchant number 139149.
Until tomorrow, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can.

Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

This blog is coming to you from Kande Beach, half way up Lake Malawi

It’s 04.00 a.m. and i’m listening to the waves as they crash down onto the sandy beach. It is same same to being at the sea. Except that it’s down hill to the sea.

The South Easterly wind was at our backs all day and even Alistair and I flew the 130 km, arriving in time for lunch. The A Team which now consists of all the other riders got in an hour before us. I like riding in the B Team with Alistair because he has a feminine side that cannot pedal past a market without stopping to shop. The doughnuts he buys are especially delicious and unless I do more exercise, I’m going to put on weight. I love the markets in Malawi. They’re quirky with way more energy than markets at home.

The unexpected half a rest day was a bonus for my weary legs especially and could not have come at a better time. Some of the team lolled in hammocks on the beach, catching up news from home, others cleaned their bikes. Mostly I got to grips with my bloody kit bag. I left home with a bag full of adapters, power banks and charging cables but haven’t seen them since Mozambique. I think my kitbag flogged them off for beer money.

Rooting around the bottom of the dreaded kit bag, I found my stash of Best Wishes Chicken Legs cards, sent to me by the kids at Open Minds school just before we left. They put such a smile on my heart and energy back in my legs.

I’ve enjoyed riding this stretch of the lake. There is way less people pressure and more natural vegetation surviving. And less in your face begging. Although I did have the one little chap run in to the road to ask me “How much banana?”

We rode through the massive Dwanga sugar estates complete with a refinery and an ethanol plant which is the first commercial agriculture that I’ve seen in Malawi. It was also the first irrigation I’ve seen which is a crazy bordering on criminal waste of resource.

Owned by Ilovo, the estates provide formal employment for a huge number, plus they mentor a bunch of smallholder outgrowers alongside, providing an off take market for their crops. From what I can see Ilovo have done more uplifting of lives economically than all the churches and mosques we’ve ridden past in the last three days. On that front, I’ve got the Anglicans out in front, with Pentecostals, Lutherans, Seventh Days, and Catholics chasing with Islam putting in a late charge.

Commercial agriculture has to be the way forward for Malawi, and Zimbabwe. Please take note President Ed.

I am very bleak with news from home that Ed’s is talking about the return of the Zim dollar complete with bullshit foreign currency restrictions by the end of the year. The RTGS rate is now out to 10. It looks like we’re going back to being millionaires, billionaires and trillionaires. Which so so sucks. Alas.

Please support our cause and follow the donate prompts on our Facebook page or on http://www.oldlegstour.co.zw.

Tomorrow’s ride to Mzuzu will be short, just 107 km but with a massive climb of 2000 meters. Ouch. Until then, survive and enjoy if you can.

Eric Chicken Legs de Jong