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.