This morning we rode out of our school yard campsite in Haneti and pedaled north through Tanzania and her wide open spaces, empty vistas blah blah blah, blah blah blah, etc etc etc, blah blah blah. Tanzania certainly does go on a bit.
And then just before lunch, we started hitting hills, as in huge, big, bloody steep ones, which according to my vague recollections of Alastair’s previous nights’s briefing weren’t supposed to be there. I know I’m not the most focused person in Alastair’s briefings but I’m sure I would distinctly have remembered his use of the words huge, big, bloody and steep. Haneti had been at 1200 m a.s.l.
By the time we fell off our bikes for lunch, impossibly we were back up at 1650 m.
On the way to lunch, I saw what I’m sure will be my last baobab on the Tour at 1479 m a.s.l. And he wasn’t a skinny, scrawny stunted one, he was huge and massive.
Enough of the trees and back to the hills. At least after lunch would be better, I promised my poor aching legs. Apart from one last sharp steep climb that we could see ahead of us, the last 40 km to our night stop would be all down and or flat, surely. Given that happiness is the management of expectations, I should have just shut up. Alas.
My last sharp, steep climb turned out to be a false summit. When I got to the top and around the corner, there was more of the same ahead, just steeper. And so it went on, all bloody afternoon.
Very quickly, Dave was at the back and in trouble, bonking, his body shaking badly after calling on reserves of energy that weren’t there, this even after the lunch he’d just packed away. Dave makes a swarm of locusts look bulimic by comparison. Alastair, Renier and John nursed him home with bags and bags of sweets.
The last 40 km of the day took me 4 hours. The gradients were as harsh as any we struggled up in the Southern Highlands. Mostly I rode with Mark, Jaap and CJ., although rode could be a misnomer in that it implies some sort of forward momentum. Looking to cheat, I spent 5 minutes drafting behind a big truck before realizing it had broken down. At one point Mark was overtaken by a dung beetle reversing up the hill, rolling his breakfast, lunch and dinner ball of dung in front of him.
But way harder than the hills, the thing I struggled with most all afternoon long was the news from back home that after a welcome absence of 10 years, our piece of crap Zimbabwe dollar is back. We found out over lunch that the ZANU government have banned forthwith trade in US dollars and all other hard currencies. Fully in keeping with the stupidity contained therein, the Government Gazette announcing the banning of trade in US was on sale at a price of 2 US or 6 RTGS. And there was more stupid to follow. The Reserve Bank also announced an increase in their over night inter-bank interest rate from 15 percent up to 50, to guard against inflation. If Winston Churchill was a Zimbabwean, he would have said that all we have to fear is fear itself, and stupid.
We are riding from Harare to Mt Kilimanjaro to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwean pensioners. Now I can’t but feel we’ve spent the last 25 days farting against thunder. Alas.
But please continue to support us, nonetheless. 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.
In closing, please spare a thought for our poor and stupid Minister of Finance whose family home is in Switzerland. How the hell is he going to be able to be able to pay for that going forward on a Zimbabwe dollar salary?
Until tomorrow’s blog from somewhere near Arusha, please survive, enjoy and pedal if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong