Day 20 and 21 of the Old Legs Lockdown Tour.
I am blogging to you from Mazarabani, in the Zambezi Valley beneath the imposing Muvuradonha Mountains.
Apologies for no blog yesterday but I was fatigued, not so much from pedaling, but from the attentions of the police. Alerted by a tip off, a posse of policemen from ZRP Rushinga swooped down on us during our roadside lunch break to find out what we were doing riding through their district on July 31st.
For those not living in Zimbabwe, July 31st has been looming large as the likely date for our next coup plus attendant nationwide shutdowns.
Long story short, after explaining our mission, our ID’s and letters were examined at length by each member of the posse, who then invited us to proceed to ZRP Rushinga to pay a courtesy call to the Officer in Charge, so we could tell our story all over again, even though it was 9 kilometers out of our way. But apart from wasting almost two hours, all’s well that ends well. The Officer in Charge was a nice enough guy and wished us luck on the rest of the Tour. I think we served to amuse and confuse. We loaded the bikes on to the vehicles and drove to our night stop.
My watch tells me I rode 90 kilometers none the less and climbed 1287 unexpected meters. I say unexpected because my blog from two days ago clearly stated that with the Eastern Highlands behind us, we would be riding down into the Zambezi Valley, with the emphasis on down. From here on, I am going to take what I write with a pinch of salt.
The countryside we rode through was large, huge, vast, with forever views, pristine bush, etcetera, etcetera as per my last few blogs. This north eastern part of Zimbabwe sure does go on a bit, especially on a bicycle. And it is so empty. We were able to ride for hours without passing a single car.
Alone and on my bike, I was able to contemplate the important things in life. Black jelly babies are best, although red, orange, yellow, and green are also good. I have also decided I love Zimbabwe and despite all the crap ongoing, there is nowhere else I would rather live. I feel for the poor long suffering people of Zimbabwe. They deserve better of their leaders.
The stuff at the bottom of my kitbag is breeding. Either that, or my kitbag is a fence for stolen goods. Before leaving home, in addition to the kitchen sink, I packed 1 solar lantern and 1 pair of Nikon Aculon binoculars to look at Pel’s Fishing Owls with. Last night I was forced to go into my kitbag in search of almost clean underwear and my missing laptop cable and DSTV remote. I didn’t find any thing I was looking for, but I did find a second identical pair of Nikon Aculon binoculars, and a second solar lantern, exactly the same. Please contact me if you are missing these items.
We camped the night at school 30 km past Rushinga. In the morning, we set about confirming that it is indeed a long, long way to Mukumbura, especially from Bulawayo on a bicycle. For me it was the second time on that road in just over a year. We rode past the very spot where Nik Bellwald crashed at speed on the Kilimanjaro Tour, knocking himself out.
At long last I have ridden into some sort of fitness. I came into the Tour very underdone in terms of training and wobbled badly on the first few legs, plus all the subsequent ones. But apparently what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and my legs have finally come to the party.
I am now able to ride alongside Mike Scott, instead of behind him, unless he is in a hurry. Which is good news for me going into the lions and tigers in Mana Pools.
Carl and Mark continue at another level. To try close the gap on them, I decided I need to lose some weight. I have zero body weight to lose so looked to my bike for weight loss. As compared to the others, my Trek is a bit of a cart horse, but oh so comfortable. It is like riding an armchair, just harder to fall asleep in. Reluctantly, I have decided to lose my aerobars, previously coolest thing on my bike, according to granddaughter Cailyn. I fitted them to improve my aerodynamics but mostly use them to hang my washing on in camp, and to loll on during breathers. Watch this space to see if my weight loss strategy pays dividends, although I doubt.
When eventually we reached the Zambezi Valley, I luxuriated in flat for the first time in forever. I am comfortable with flat. I can see why my forefathers moved to Holland. Apart from a lack of views, flat is good.
It was hot out today, at least 30 degrees, but saw no mad dogs or Englishmen. It would appear they don’t do winter here in the Zambezi Valley. In my next life, I am so not going to open a wool shop in the Zambezi Valley.
Instead of Pel’s Fishing Owls, we saw Indian Mynah birds, and winter maize trials and a forest of Acacia Tortulus as we rode into Mazarabani. We are being hosted on Mazarabani Estate, a standout oasis of productivity in the hot Zambezi Valley, by the Drummond family. Thank you, thank you, thank you. After days of bush camping, we are luxuriating in hot baths and porcelain. We were happy to see Jan and Amy Hart with our next resupply of food and frozen meals, so much so, we voted Amy our Dick of the Day for smelling like a goat.
To catch you up on other Dick of the Day happenings, Carl was the worthy winner on Day 20 for over speeding and missing a vital turn while Vicky scooped the honours in Day 21 for strangling Mark for not stopping to let Vicky take a photo of the 7343rd white tree she had seen on Tour.
In closing, we’d like to wish all Blue Cross participants the best of luck, especially Angus and Rowena Melrose. Angus is a fellow Herd member and his Netrade group stalwarts and Old Legs. And good luck to Rob Burrell chasing down Carl’s King of the Mountain on Tank Nek.
Until my next blog from Buzz Charlton’s safari camp in the Chewore, survive and enjoy if you can.
Eric Chicken Legs de Jong