Adam Selby and I flew the Old Legs flag at Saturday’s Round Table 23 MTB ride in Domboshawa. Unfortunately not too many people saw the flag because we flew it at the very back of the peloton.
The 45 km track, mostly single track through hills and kopjes, demanded focus and concentration, placing Adam and I at an immediate disadvantage. Before we knew it, we’d turned 45 kms into 50.
Being selfless, I’m prepared to blame Garmin for some of the extra distance and Adam for the rest. My GPS spent the first 30 km of the ride zoomed out to 200 meters, allowing us to blunder off track countless times. But our biggest diversion happened early in the ride when Adam still had vim and vigour. My chain came off half way up a viscously steep kopje and whilst I was getting it back on, damn tricky things chains, Adam charged off two kms in the wrong direction. I find it very hard to shout Adam loudly whilst having zero breath.
But the view from the very top of the kopje that Adam dragged us up was splendid and we could see for miles and miles. We could also see the other riders, tiny like ants, on the right track way below us. Alas.
Just after we eventually got back on track, we noticed how hot it was out. Round about then Adam also noticed that not only had he lost his water bottle, he’d also punctured his Camelback bladder and had zero water as a result. And then he punctured his front wheel, twice. No problem. He had a CO2 bomb in his saddle bag. Which was a problem. His saddle bag was in his cupboard at home. No problem. I was able to lend Adam a bomb.
By now we’d gathered an audience of otherwise bored spectators. Because they’d never seen advanced puncture repair technology in action before, we set out to impress them, but mostly amused instead. I should have paid more attention during advanced technology lectures at Allan Wilson. I still get clockwise and anti-clockwise mixed up when opening and closing CO 2 bombs. Which can cause frostbite if operated without due care.
For Margie Wilson, riding with us at the time, mostly rolling her eyes, Kilimanjaro must have seemed an awfully long way away.
I lost track of time on the ride, easy to do when you’re stop starting and riding oh so slowly. But I only realized exactly how slow when a kid greeted me Good Afternoon. I stopped to correct him on his grammar, by then I was looking for any and all excuses to stop, and told him Good Morning was a more appropriate greeting. Not when it’s after 12, he told me. Crap. No wonder I was knackered. I’d been riding for 5 hours.
By the time we got in, everything had been packed up and everyone, bar a just in case search party, had gone home. My two granddaughters were also there to cheer me over the line. The short one was bitterly disappointed in my finishing position. She’s been told repeatedly over the years that her grandfather was faster than two speeding bullets.
Thankfully towards the end of the ride, Adam and I had picked up a struggling straggler who we nursed home, so we had a semi good excuse. As we rode in, the straggler asked us forgo the sprint finish so we could ride in together. From the back, Adam told us he was sprinting.
But what a great ride it was. Really, really tough, very technical in places, way more than I’m used to, the ride took us through some achingly beautiful countryside. I find achingly such an apt cycling adjective. Thank you Alan Winterton for the track. Thank you to Patrick Mallon and the Security Shop for the generous sponsorship and all the prizes given out long before we got in. Thanks also to Mark Wilson for the bike service vouchers. And huge thanks to the men of Round Table 23 who do so much good for so many, having a bunch of fun in the process. My biggest thank you goes to all the riders who braved the fuel shortage and humped out to Domboshawa in huge numbers to support Round Table 23’s Old Legs ride. From the Old Legs team, thank you, thank you, thank you.
For me the ride served as wake call that with just six months to go to Mt Kilimanjaro, I need to get serious about training. I need to ride out of my comfort zone. Comfortable rides aren’t going to get me ready for 2900 kilometers and 36000 meters of climb up through Africa. I’m going to need to hurt more on the bike. So I don’t hurt later.
But at least I did better than I did on the same ride a year ago. Back then I managed to get lost in the first 5 minutes, ending up the only rider riding the 50 km loop anti clockwise. After riding on my own for hours, when eventually I bumped into other riders coming from the opposite direction, I gave them a practical demonstration on the need to uncleat at slow speeds, busting ribs and my bike in the process. When my bike gave up the ghost a few kms after my slow motion crash , I limped on pushing my bike, unfortunately in completely the wrong direction. I got back hours later with my bike on the roof rack of the car that eventually saved me. So at least there has been some improvement.
Which is unfortunately more than I can say about Zimbabwe. Although I did find a coke on my home from the ride, so eat your heart out North Korea and Cuba. But the waiter who served me the coke told me to hold off on the celebrations, it was the last of some old stock. But for the fuel queues and no beer, Zimbabwe would be enough to drive a man to drink, Alas.
Apparently the shortages of everything imaginable currently biting are all to do with ongoing turf wars within ZANU PF. According to social media, the General who runs the fuel cartels and currency black markets in his spare time is putting the squeeze on Ed by closing taps because he wants the top job. God help us if that happens. Never in my life did I ever want to cheer a crocodile on. Zim is Game of Thrones, just with more ugly bad guys.
I very glad to introduce you to our Australian Old Legs, Mark Johnson. Mark is 58 years young, born in London, ex Zimbabwe, now living on the Sunshine coast, in Australia.
Mark spent a short time at Ellis Robins studying wine, women and bad music before headmaster Mike Whiley loosed him on the world by expelling him aged 15 for excesses. Mark went on to complete his studies at the University of Life and hasn’t looked back.
Mark cleverly married Sue and raised Bradley and Holly in Zimbabwe, before leaving for greener pastures in 2004. Alas. Australia’s gain, Zimbabwe’s loss.
Mark started riding way back when Adam Selby persuaded him to enter a triathlon. On Adam’s part, it was a good friend thing to do, bar the slight snag that Mark had never learned how to to swim. Mark doggy paddled his first event, went on to learn how to swim properly and has since competed in many events, including 3 Blue Crosses.
With Andrew Walsh and Pete Musto, Mark also paddled the length of Kariba in 3 m kayaks and survived.
Mark was an avid but very jealous supporter of the Old Legs 2018 Tour to Cape Town and signed up for the next tour before we even started planning. Mark says he feels privileged to be joining such a fantastic group of like minded individuals to help raise funds for the older generation through ZANE. There are many ex- Zimbabweans living in Australia that are lucky enough to call Australia home, but a big part of Mark’s heart is in Africa. Mark hopes his friends in Australia will get fully behind his efforts to fund raise for the needy in Zimbabwe.
If any people living in Australia reading this see Mark training on the hills in Queensland, please wind your windows down and tell him to pedal harder, dammit.
Impressively Mark managed to rack up 230 km this last week. He is very excited about the imminent arrival of his brand new Trek EX8 29er.
In Holland Jaap recovered from a week long UK pub crawl by riding up his hill 5 times. He found that the old guy on the e-bike who terrorized him last week actually lives on top of the hill.
Meanwhile in Switzerland, Nik Bellwald celebrated the first snow fall of the season, 1 meter of the white stuff, by catching the flu.
On the other side of the world, Bruce Fivas celebrated no snow fall in Bulawayo by also catching flu.
Please donate to our worthy cause ZANE: Zimbabwe A National Emergency by using one of the following options-
Go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/oldlegstour and follow the prompts.
In Zimbabwe you can transfer to Bulawayo Help Network very a their CABS Platinum Account number 1124733450. Or you can transfer to their Ecocash merchant number. Please note that Bulawayo Help Network are the receiving agency and donations received are directed country wide.
Please join us at 18.30 pm on 1st November 2018 at Sorellas when the Old Legs Team will talk about the Cape Town adventure past and the Kilimanjaro adventure to come.
My thanks this week go to Craig Hinde and the team at Top Shaft Engineering who have come on board as corporate sponsors of the Old Legs 2019 Tour. Without companies like Top Shaft, we Old Legs wouldn’t get out the starting blocks.
In closing this week’s Swahili
Adam, ingekuwa wewe kamakwa kununua badhi maji?
Adam, would you like to buy some water?
Adam, fanya wewe unatakakwa kukodisha yangu pampu?
Adam, do you want to rent my pump?
Adam, I si kukubali Zim Dollars,
Adam, I don’t accept Zim Dollars.
In closing, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can.
Eric Chicken Legs de Jong