The Third World as Seen from the Saddle – December 1, 2020. Of small balls and contraband hidden in your bottom.

I am going to Jail on Saturday the 5th. To prepare, I’ve binge watched every prison movie ever made; Shawshank Redemption, Midnight Express, Orange is the New Black and Master Chef Australia Series 107. Technically, Master Chef isn’t about prison life, but I always feel imprisoned watching it.

After my binge session, I now know that to survive in the bathroom in prison, I need to convert my toothbrush into a shiv, to survive in the kitchen, you’re safe if you can swear like Gordon Ramsay and cook broccoli 7 ways. But to survive in general population, you have to hide your money up your bottom. Which is a bummer, pardon the pun, especially in Zimbabwe, where our largest bank note doesn’t buy you a loaf of bread, and for years the only cash you could withdraw from the bank were coins. But forewarned is fore armed. I will leave my big bag of coins at homes, ditto my stash of 2-dollar bond notes, and will pay in jail using Ecocash instead. Thank God, I’ve moved on from those old Nokia brick phones.

I’ve been thrown in jail by Round Table 23, who will use the bail money raised to support Zimbabwe’s pensioners. This year, RT 23 will deliver in excess of 700 Christmas Hampers full of luxury goodies, including flour, cooking oil, tea, coffee, powdered milk and sugar, to pensioners country wide. True story. We live in a country where basics have become luxury items beyond the reach of most of our old folk. I met an old lady with a sweet tooth recently who hasn’t had sugar in her tea since last year’s Xmas hamper, because she can’t afford t. And she can’t even remember what chocolate tastes like. Please be generous when you bail me out of jail and help Round Table 23 spoil her and others rotten. Alternatively, you can pay RT23 extra to keep me locked up.

Another luxury item that Round Table 23 bought with their bail money last year were refurbished hearing aids, at $60 a pop. They helped us help 12 pensioners who spent 2019 watching TV but not hearing anything. They spent a year waiting on a waiting list, not joining in conversations, just sitting here like hamerkops, for the want of $60. Enter Round Table 23. Please be generous with my bail money and help them help old folk hear again.

And it goes on and on. But for RT 23, almost every pensioner in almost every retirement home in Harare and surrounds would have enjoyed cold shower this winter past. The old age homes can’t afford electricity to run geysers so cold showers rule, but for RT 23 who installed solar geysers at most homes. And there are the luxuries like medicines and medical procedures, paid for by bail money raised. Please be generous.

On to the bicycle part of the blog, did you know fur seals are the only animals able to withdraw their testicles up into their body cavities so as to make themselves more aerodynamic? Apart from badgers, especially when the said badgers skinny dip in the Atlantic Ocean after riding 2500 km over the Drakensburg and through the Karoo. For those who don’t know, Bruce Fivaz’s nickname is Badger. But after riding over the Drakensberg and every other mountain in SA, and through the Karoo in 37 degree heat, we had to upgrade his nickname to be Badger Big Balls. But post accepting my skinny dip dare, we’ve had to downgrade him to Badger Small Balls. Alas.

The South African Lockdown Tour members arrived home yesterday safe and sound after their massive ride. Huge kudos to Bruce, Dave, Diedre, Ryan and Matambo for taking epic to the next level and for keeping us enthralled and entertained for the last 25 days.

Continuing on with matters of the bike, because of 6 weeks of Zim Lockdown and eye operations that have dragged on, I rode with the Herd for the first time in 20 weeks on their Dawn Patrol, which thankfully only starts at 06.30.

To test my legs, I rode from home, which adds on another 50 km to the round trip. It also means leaving the farm at 05.30 and participating in the early morning traffic. This was first time riding in traffic with just the one headlamp working. Now you would think that Harare traffic at 06.00 on a Saturday would be non-existent. Well guess again, it is a shocker, with mini- buses jostling for position with Honda Fits, all intent on turning single lanes into 3 or 4 lanes, swerving for potholes on roads that are more pothole than road. One of the upsides of riding with one eye working is you don’t get to see half the shit on the road that happens. The other upside is half price discounts on binoculars apparently.

Early-morning rush hour traffic in Harare is especially bad. So is mid-morning rush hour traffic, late- morning rush hour traffic, afternoon rush hour traffic, and night rush hour traffic. There are just too many cars on the road. Where they come from, I do not know. Well actually, I do. They come from Japan. But not for much longer. Thankfully government have decided to bolt the stable door long after the horse buggered off by banning the importation of second-hand cars from Japan, because of possible risk of radiation following the nuclear power station accident at Fukushima in 2011. Not having to make up shit like that is one of the perks of living in Zimbabwe. I swear Monty Python could sit in on a cabinet meeting and they would fit in just fine.

By the by, the congestion that led to the decision to ban the import of old second hand cars has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that there have been zero new roads built or widened in Harare city limits in the last 30 years.

And in another by the by, Fukushima is also a swear word used by Japanese carpenters when they hit their thumbs with their hammers.
Thankfully I survived the traffic, and the 100-kilometre ride, plus hills, but for sure I will stick to training on the roads less travelled going forward.
And I need to get busy training in earnest, because the start of next Old Legs Tour is now just 33 weeks away. Conditions on the ground for our pensioners are such that we cannot stop riding to ridiculously far away places to raise money and awareness as to their plight, plus they are he best adventures ever, and too much fun.

Adam Selby will be the Ride Captain on the 2021 Tour and is flat out busy with Alastair and Laurie Watermeyer plotting a route from Harare to Uganda’s Impenetrable Forest to look for the gorillas in the mist.
Adam was that kid growing up who didn’t slow down for Strictly No Entry signs. Fast forward fifty plus years and nothing much has changed. Impenetrable means Hells bells, it must be good in there, let’s go have a look. And because Laurie is involved in plotting the route, Alastair assures me that there will be plenty of crossing crocodile swollen rivers on homemade rafts and pontoons. And bummer Bruce, there is no way I am accepting any reverse dares to skinny dip in those rivers, because no testicles hurt way more than small, frozen ones.

In closing, good luck to fellow Herd members, Clint Robinson and Don Mc Shaw, a.k.a. the Fat and the Furious, a.k.a. the Golden Browns when they pedal from Harare to Bulawayo starting Sunday morning bright and early, to raise money for old age homes and orphanages along the route. Strength to your legs, guys, and may the wind be behind you. To make sure they actually leave town, me and a bunch of other guys will ride out of town with them starting from Angus Close, Avondale, unless of course I do not get bailed out of jail.

Until my next prison blog, survive, stay safe and enjoy- Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

Photos below- a Badger on the beach, the Fat and Furious, my wanted poster, and how to post bail. N.B. Please quote my name when making transfer.

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