I labored on my way to last week’s training ride with the herd and arrived at 6.30 start line 5 minutes late. At first I thought my legs had gone but was mightily relieved to find my pair of extra balls rubbing on my back wheel, slowing me down, all because the saddle bag they hang from sagged. They’d been rubbing all the way from home and now most of the fur on my balls is gone.
Oscar told me they now look Brazilian but I wouldn’t know about that because I’ve never been to South America. I fixed my bag with duct tape and my balls are back hanging free.
With just 10 days to the start of the Old Legs Tour, I’m glad it wasn’t my legs that had gone. Although those went later on the training ride when Oscar dragged the Herd up the infamous Never Ending Hill. When eventually I got to the top, I looked to see if I could see Mt Kilimanjaro but couldn’t, mostly because my sunglasses had all fogged up.
We had a sneak preview of the ugly side of the Old Legs peloton this week with the onset of Baggage Wars. We’re each allowed just 120 liters of space and Adam, the Keeper of the Steel Warehouse Stealth Trailer, asked us all to do a dry run and to give our results. Reluctantly I dragged my kit bag down from the top of cupboard where it lurks when not on Tour. I hate my kitbag. And the feeling is mutual.
Fortunately back in the day, I got my Boy Scout’s badge for packing and can still remember the minimalistic formula. First thing in the bag,a woggle, followed by underpants times the number of sleeps plus 2 extra -so as to be prepared for emergencies – which works out to 39 pairs of underpants. I searched high and low but alas couldn’t find my woggle. I’m thinking it must already be in my kit bag, along with my bloody officer keys.,Next on the list, warm stuff for on the mountain. Because Google tells me it can get to minus 15 up on top, I’ve gone big on thermal underwear. If Captain Oates had half the arctic kit I’ve got, he’d have died from heat exhaustion instead of frostbite. Next up – padded ride shorts. Because my bottom supervised the packing of those, I ended up with eleven pairs in the bag. Because I’m bald, I was able to leave hair care products off the list and was able to squeak in at 282 liters, a smidgeon over my allotted 120.
Adam told me I had to make a plan. So I started horse trading with Bill who is only using 100 liters. I made a move on his spare 20, offering up either some thermal underwear, a favorable mention in the blog or my unswerving loyalty come Dick of the Day voting. Adam heard about my almost done deal with Bill and has now banned horse trading for luggage space, which is quite a Dick of the Day thing to do. I don’t know where Adam has lived that he picked up these dictatorial tendencies.
So it was back to the packing drawing board. I think 39 pairs of underpants could be part of the problem so I’ve decided to either go commando, or hangbal as Rob Fisher would have it, or I’m going to have learn how to launder. Damn that Adam Selby.
Already people are starting to jostle for the coveted Dick of the Day award. On a 40 km training ride in and around suburban Joburg with Alan Rheeder, Al Watermeyer squeezed in not one but two involuntary dismounts, hurting his thumb in the process. If you do the sums, Al is in line to fall off 150 times on his way to Mt Kili.
Al put in another trot for DOD, this time with Adam, by practicing losing important documents. I think they also lost my office keys but they both vehemently denying this. But the leading contender for the first Dick of the Day nomination is Ryan for referring to us as Old Toppies and Old Balies throughout a recent TV interview about the Cape Town Tour .Plus in the same interview he turned Dave into a 52 year old. Watch this space!!!
Whilst on the subject of Dick of the Day, big thanks to Rob Wallace from Life Cycle who took on the challenge of getting Gideon, our made in China Dick of the Day bike, in working order for the Tour. Rob can fix any bike and Gideon now has brakes that aren’t broken. You are a star Rob, thank you. To refresh memories, Gideon is so named in honour of Gideon Gono’s work in the field of inadequacies and incompetency.,Unfortunately his legacy lives on. The govt body that regulates fuel prices fired off a stern memo to all fuel retailers this week, forbidding them from increasing prices. Then on the very same day, they bumped fuel prices up to $4.97 a litre, up from $1.31 at the beginning of the year. Incompetency is really beginning to hurt.
And whilst on the subject of China, don’t you just love how this blog flows, I have to make mention of President Ed’s policy consistencies, one of his electoral promises. A year ago he offered Trump a golf course in a national park but got no bites. And now a year later, he’s offering the same deal to a bunch of Chinese possible investors. And judging by the look of horror on the Chinese punters faces at the thought of sharing the rough with lions and elephants, here’s hoping it will also come to nought. Last thing we need are more pangolin poachers in the parks.
Can’t but feel that Ed is flogging a dead horse with his attempts to attract foreign investment. Don’t know if people flock to invest in countries with hyperinflation, no fuel, no electricity, no cash,and bottle stores nothing but alcohol free beer. I mean what is the point of alcohol free beer. It’s like buying condoms with holes in them.
And why try and attract new investors when existing ones like Richard Le Vieux, Zimbabwe’s last commercial coffee farmer standing, continue to get harassed and persecuted because some fat cat remains intent on busting the 10th Commandment i.e. Though shalt not covet thy neighbour’s goods.
And I have to ask the question why look overseas for investors. Give local farmers title and security of tenure and it will be job done.
Despite all of the above, I had a good week this week. My best was a request received from Jim Latham to join us up Mt Kilimanjaro. Jim’s family have a strong association with the mountain. As he describes in his letter, “The mountain is nyumbani yangu (my home) in many ways.”
Jim’s parents first climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in 1925 and his mother is credited as the first woman to summit. Stella Point on the crater’s rim is named in her honour. There is also a Latham Ridge on Mwenzi.
Jim’s family are planning a centennial climb in 2025. Already in his eighties, Jim is not too sure though how well he’ll be able to climb in 6 years so he’s asked if he can join us in July. Even if he makes it as far as the first hut, Jim said it would give him great joy. I’ve told Jim it would be an honour and a privilege to have him on Tour.
And whilst on the subject of the Latham family, Jim’s niece Mary continues her Old Legs UK Charity Walk this weekend when she walks from London to Brighton to raise money for ZANE and the Zimbabwean pensioners. Please follow and support Mary on Facebook or better still, join her.
The Old Legs sure felt the love this week. First up Tsogo Sun’s Tete Ferry Lodge heard we were riding through Tete and they offered us complimentary accommodation in their very swish hotel right on the banks of the Zambezi River. The General Manager’s mom is one of our pensioners in the Borradaile Trust.
Then Grant Weare and his Ezytrack team surprisingly came on board again with a satellite tracking device on my bike so very bored people out there can watch me pedal across Africa slower than paint dries. I say surprisingly because I managed to lose Grant’s satellite tracking device in my kit bag in the middle of the Karoo on the Cape Tour.
And then a good week for us got even better when Neil Hunt from Alliance Health offered the Old Legs Tour medical insurance cover, plus for our bikes and kit, including Al Watermeyer of involuntary dismount fame. And then Mark Wilson from Go Bicycles kindly offered to service all our bikes before we go on Tour, including he who falls over often, Al Watermeyer.
Because of people like all of the above mentioned, it’s obvious we’ll make it to Mt Kilimanjaro, and our fundraising target of 160 thousand. To all of you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
If you want to help us get to that 160 K, 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. Monies donated help pensioners country wide.
In closing, this week’s Swahili 101-
Mipira yangu ni kutoka Brazil, hiyo au mfano umbo ni kupota mbaya zaidi!! – My balls are from Brazil, that or my pattern baldness is getting worse.
Kuwa na wewe kuonekona ofisi funguo yangu?- Have you seen my office keys?
Kuwakaribisha nyumbani Mr Latham – Welcome home Mr Latham.
Until next week, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can.
Eric Chicken Legs de Jong