19th July 2021 – The Third World as Seen From the Saddle.

Day 5 of the Old Legs Silverback Tour – Luangwa Bridge to the Middle of Nowhere

Distance – 92 km
Climb – 1367 m
Time – 7 hr 45 min
Ave Heart Rate – 115 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 157 bpm

After wounding our bottoms on the way to Kanyemba and in anticipation of yet another long day in the saddle, Al and I both decided to go with double padding strategy and are now taller when we sit than when we stand. The only downsides are an extra 30 degrees of warmth in the nether regions and an extra fumble to contend with before urinating.

I read with interest in my yesterday’s blog that there were no escarpments to be seen coming out of Luangwa. What a load of crap. The only reason we couldn’t see the escarpment is because it was hidden behind a range of huge bloody mountains that we were required to ride up and over all morning. What a rude awakening. I think I will have to take what I write with a pinch of salt in future.

Billy is fickle. When he had me reeling at 2 wickets down for 7 runs, he reckoned car cricket was the best game ever. But since then we’ve got onto the Great East Road, my batsmen have learned how to spell resolve and Billy’s much vaunted bowling attack has withered under the hot Zambian sun. I am smacking his bowlers for 6 all over the park thanks to non-stop 30 ton rigs and a paucity of public transport. Now I’m sitting pretty on 367 for 7, and all of a sudden Billy is saying car cricket is a stupid game, sandpapering balls should be allowed, cricket will never catch on, etc, etc.

I am happy to be riding in my bubble. I still don’t know who won the Tour de France, I still don’t know if the British Lions were beaten by the Springboks, and I don’t even care.

Easily the fastest thing on the Old Legs Tour today was the speed with which the dreaded lurgy ripped through the peloton, dropping riders like shot giraffes. Billy, the ride medic’s diagnostic skills were hardly challenged with projectile nausea being the primary symptom and easy to spot. Before the end of the ride we were down from 10 to just 6.

The standard greeting from young children in Zambia is How are you? How are you? How are you? to be repeated three times and as loudly as possible and in chorus with as many of your friends as possible. They put so much effort into it you worry that your bog standard ‘ I am fine ‘ answer will surely disappoint, but it never does.

I came perilously close to traumatizing the young group of kids who rushed up to enquire after my health after I came to an involuntary halt outside there village. There were nine or ten demands of How are you? How are you? How are you? I almost answered them with projectile vomit, but managed to bite down on it and pedal away quickly. You have no idea how unpleasant it is to bite down on a bucket load vomit. Those children owe me big.

Billy and I had two kilometers left to ride. The nausea had’t gone away. The lurgy is cruel, It had just pressed the pause button, playing me like a cat plays with a rat. It quietly murmured all through setting up camp, waiting instead for me to be stark bollock naked in the shower. I very quickly did my Dick of the Day calculations and worked out better to vomit outside the shower than within. I was able to drag on a pair of jockey shorts ( vomiting whilst streaking would also get you bust) and took exactly two steps before Vesuvius erupted, almost all over Gary, standing packing his camera equipment away. I now worry Gary has been traumatized. Ditto CarolJoy and Russ who had front row seats for the second snd third eruptions. Afterwards, Russ gave me 10 for effort. Gary gave me 11 for aim.

A big shout out to Dr Becky Oranjes from Kabwe who gave us valued advice over the phone on how best to treat the lurgy.

I had anti- nausea pills for dinner chased down by two warm cokes and slept the sleep of the dead. And then more of the same the next day in the back of the car. On all my rides, this was my first time ever being in a support vehicle and I now know that riding bikes is the easy bit.

It is near impossible to drive 100 km in 8 hours with a smile on your face all the while resisting the urge to shout pedal faster at pathetically slow cyclists. For the life of me I can’t figure out how bike riding has become a popular spectator sport. And then when eventually they finish pedalling, you’re expected to feed them the equivalent of a horse. Our Support Team do the really hard yards.

Mark and I sat out Day 6 because of the lurgy, Adam made his comeback stronger than ever. Laurie’s come back turned out to be only brief a d after 30 kms was back in the car exhausted.

Al has to sit out the first part of the ride, not because of the lurgy, but because he is a clumsy bastard. True story, he slipped in the shower and broke his fall with his head. Billy only allowed back in his bike after passing a halftime concussion test. I have suggested to Al he wears his riding helmet in camp.

Jaime took time out from the ride to give us all a valuable botany lesson on why one should never wee in a patch of Buffalo beans. Very skittishly I had my next Number Two, by now my lurgy has developed additional symptoms, on the side of the road and far from the bush. Apologies Zambia.

Day 7 the riders rode 111 km in good time. All rode strongly, although Marco is complaining of a mortally
wounded bottom. He asked me to rub a soothing lotion on it and I told him bummer dude.

Dick of the Day is heating up and horse trading in full swing. Al has traded me 5 black wine gums for no votes against him for 5 days. If this catches on, I’ll arrive in Uganda fat with pimples and sugar high that will power in until December.

In closing, please say a prayer for Delia Brown, beloved wife to Phil and mom to Bronson and Zane. And please raise a glass to Bob Clegg. So sorry Rose, Bob was a good guy.

Until my next blog from Chipata – stay safe and avoid the lurgy at all costs – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

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