The Old Legs 2020 Lockdown Tour
Every year, a group of middle aged to bloody old bicycle riders from around the world converge on Harare for the Old Legs Tour, in which they ride their mountain bikes to somewhere far away, and normally over more than a few inconveniently large hills and mountains, to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s beleaguered pensioners. In 2018, their destination was Cape Town by way of the Kalahari. And in 2019, they rode to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro. And in 2020, the Old Legs Tour was supposed to ride to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. But because of closed borders and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, that isn’t going to happen anymore.
The needs of the pensioners on the ground in Zimbabwe are greater than ever with hyper-inflation back again for the second time in ten years. The generations that built our country have been left with nothing and will not survive without charity. And because of the coronavirus crisis, so many our donors in the Europe and the UK who would normally help, cannot. Thus, we do not have the luxury of simply popping our fund-raising adventures back on the shelf for a year. We have to act now, sooner than later. So instead of riding to Namibia in 2020, the Old Legs Tour will embark on an even tougher adventure, which we have called the Lockdown Tour. Here’s what that will look like.
On the 14th of July, the 5 pairs of Old Legs resident in Zimbabwe will pedal out of Harare and up to Mt Nyangani Zimbabwe’s highest point. From there we will pedal down into the Zambezi Valley, one the world’s last remaining wild frontiers. Mindful of not being eaten or stood upon by lions, buffalos, elephants and crocodiles, we’ll follow the Zambezi River west through the Mana Pools National Parks, a timeless wilderness area and rated one of Africa’s best. But the Zambezi Valley is not just all about wild animals, and we’ll get the chance to marvel at the dinosaur foot prints in the Chewore, and fossilized forests in the Dande, and Zimbabwe’s largest concentration of baobabs north of Kotwa. We’ll ride through Chirundu and as far as Nyamoumba, and then ride back up the Zambezi escarpment to Marangora and Makuti and then back down it again to Lake Kariba. We’ll ride along the shoreline of the Mutusadona National Park with the Mutusadona mountains towering high above us. From Bumi Hills, we’ll head south towards Gokwe and then west towards Victoria Falls. We’ll slog up the Zambezi escarpment yet again, this time so we can camp on the edge of Chizarira’s hugely impressive Mucheni Gorge and stare down on eagles in flight and the vast plains of Africa stretching away below and unspoilt as far as the eyes can see. And then back down the bloody escarpment again, and on to Victoria Falls to marvel at world’s largest waterfall in all her splendour, flowing at her highest peak in almost a hundred years. We’ll ride to Kazungula where four countries meet, and then south through deep Kalahari sands to the remote wilds of the Kazuma Pan. Then through the Hwange National Park, enjoying more hopefully not too close encounters with Africa’s Big Five. We’ll ride to Bulawayo and through the history and massive granite edifices of the Matopos and onto the Tuli Circle and then east along Kipling’s great grey-green greasy Limpopo River to the wild and remote Gonarezhou National Park. We’ll ride through the Park and beneath the towering, iconic red sandstone Chilojo cliffs to Zimbabwe’s lowest point, where the Save and Runde rivers meet, for the start of the Blue Cross, Zimbabwe’s foremost endurance event, 500 km of uphill slog, up the Eastern Highlands, over the Chimanimani mountains and up through the Vumba mists, ending back where we started at Mt Nyangani, Zimbabwe’s highest point.
We will have ridden in excess of 3000 kilometres, climbing more metres than I will care to add up, on mostly rough and tough dirt roads and tracks, hopefully having raised US$100,000 for our chosen charities, with your help.
Please join us on our epic adventure. Follow us on Facebook or on www.oldlegstour.co.zw. But please be warned, we ride slower than paint dries.
Yours in the saddle
Eric Chicken Legs de Jong
Tour Organizer and slowest rider.