I couldn’t watch as Adam prepped his needle

I couldn’t watch as Adam prepped his needle. Good Lord but 10 cc is a lot. As he zeroed in on one of my veins with needle poised, I asked Adam when last he’d applied an injection intravenously. 

“Don’t worry. It’s all under control. Left arm or right arm?”
“Maybe go with the left. The guy yesterday did the right arm. When last did you give one, Adam?”
Adam told me “Don’t sweat it. It’s just like falling off a bicycle, you never forget how.”
“When, Adam?”
“About forty one years ago” said Adam as he made a move on one of my veins. My veins are big, almost bigger than my arms.
Rather worryingly, Adam ignored his own advice and commenced sweating. The needle slipped into the vein. Apart from intense pain, I never felt a thing. Instantly, a boiled egg haematoma popped up.
“How about you try my right arm? It worked for the guy yesterday.”
“Good idea.”
There was no need to apply a tourniquet. Already my veins were bulging alarmingly. “Shit.” Again, another boiled egg haematoma. Adam upped his sweat output to buckets. “Let me try another one.”
“Good. We’re in.”
“Shit. We’re not in.”
“How about we go intramuscular instead?” Adam asked.
Adam applied pressure to the plunger oh so gently but going in, the 10 cc of muti thudded into my buttock, subtle like a croquet mallet. Apart from squealing like a girl, I remained brave throughout.
Two down, just twelve intravenous antibiotics to go. What fun.

“How about we look for a clinic or hospital this afternoon to give me the next jab?” I asked Adam conversationally.
“ Great idea.” Impossibly, Adam looked more drained than me.

Jaap and Adam nursed me on the 50 km ride from the Farm House to Iringa. My finger wasn’t throbbing as bad as it had the day before. Maybe the antibiotics were working. Mostly I rode one handed but still the back of my hand had swollen alarmingly by the time we stopped for breakfast outside Iringa. Adam checked in by phone with his doctor friend in Zimbabwe. The increased swelling wasn’t good. Worse case scenario, I could lose a finger or worse, apparently. Better to have an ultrasound soonest, said the doctor. While the other riders pushed on through Iringa, Adam and I headed for the Iringa hospital.

Iringa is a pretty town perched high up on a hill, about the size of Mutare but busier and much neater with zero garbage and litter. Eventually we found the hospital. Signage in Tanzania is in Swahili only,,which is a snag for lazy English speakers. The hospital was busy busy. Before I could have an ultrasound, I needed to register. Which was again a snag because the queue for registration was a hundred deep and not moving. And I still had another 90 km to ride.

Enter Dr Faith, resident physician and nice person, just as I was leaning towards pushing on towards our night stop regardless. We told her what the ride was about, etc, etc. Dr Faith looked at my hand, made a phone call and told me to wait. She’d asked a surgeon to come and have a look.

Dr Mwashambwa arrived, looking like he’d just stepped off the golf course. Straight away, he zeroed in on the cut on the finger which by now was looking angry, red and swollen. Whilst I was trying to translate ‘Local anesthetic please’ into Swahili, he stuck me in the finger with a scalpel and a bucket of pus gushed out. Instant relief . And even more relief when he told Adam better to move from intravenous antibiotics to oral ones for the rest of the Tour.

I rode the rest of the 90 km of the day’s ride with a huge sense of relief. All was good in my world again. I love Tanzania and her people.

I especially love the countryside and the changes in vegetation we’ve ridden through. After Iringa, we rode into thorn scrub, sort of like the bush you get riding into Bulawayo. And then just as that was getting boring, we bumped into the most amazing escarpment, thick with trees, none of which were flamboyants or jacarandas. I did see a mukwa tree which made me think of home. Just as we started dropping down the escarpment to Mtera Dam below, I saw my first baobabs, short, stunted and looking cold and out of place at 1250 meters a.s.l.

The further north we get, the more Masai we see. Impossibly tall, haughty and with legs like mine, they are a very impressive people. The words ‘legs like mine’ and ‘impressive’ sound weird in the same sentence. I like the Masai a lot. But for their spears and swords, I’d hug it up with them.

Somehow Ryan and Bill found us the funniest little guest house in Migoli, a tiny spot on the map,misspelled by Google Maps. The guest house is all bling with shiny tiles and hole in the floor toilets. Adam and I raced the sun to get there, arriving at 18.15 with 151 km on our Garmins. We’ve dropped down to 700 meters from 1800 in Iringa. That means we’re going to have to climb back up again but we’re not too fussed. The hard yards of the Southern Highlands are behind us.

A huge shout out to the Zim community here in Tanzania. They’ve shown us the love. While I was being poked and prodded, the rest of the Old Legs played golf at the Mafinga Club. Huge thanks to Peter and Shanna SJ, Janet Sanders, George and Jane Bottger, Jason and the list goes on, for your hospitality and for supporting our cause.

Back home in Zim pressure is building like the pressure in my finger. 18 hour power cuts are taking their toll. Staff at Zimra, the state revenue collection agency, have apparently asked if they can pitch tents at the office because they can’t afford rent or transport anymore. Some thing has to give. Here’s hoping it bursts like my finger, and all the dirty pus comes out so the healing can begin.

Help us help Zim’s beleaguered pensioners by going 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.

Until my next blog from somewhere near Dodoma, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

Tanzania truly is a beautiful country, God’s own

After God finished making all the lumpy bits in Southern Tanzania, I’m guessing he rested there for a bit. Riding through it on a bicycle, Tanzania truly is a beautiful country, God’s own.

When first we started planning our route months ago around my dining room table, places like Njombe, Makete and Makambako were just hard to pronounce names of places I’d never heard of. And now I’m riding through them, dodging tuk tuks and trucks in amongst busy markets and bazaars. On the map they’re just inches apart, on the bike they’re hours and days apart, hours and days spent marveling at the unfolding scenery.

I rode through some stunning wetlands yesterday. I stopped to look for a shoebill stork but couldn’t see any. I’ve humped a pair of binoculars in my Camelbak all the way from Harare to look for shoebills, but so far the only new bird I’ve seen is a Grey Headed Parrot at Mukumbura. And lots and lots of crows.

And what a place Tanzania is to farm. If I were thirty years younger. It has all the fertile soil in the world, planted out to either potatoes or tea, bananas or avocado or macadamias or timber plantations that go on and on and on, stretching away in every direction as far as the eye can see. This place just doesn’t stop. You get to the top of a hill, of which there are many, and there’s more of the same in front of you. And with hardly any people. The population pressure is way, way lower than neighboring Malawi.

Happiness is the management of expectations is one of Al Watermeyer’s many expressions. Either he has a book full of them or he makes them up. At our evening briefing before leaving our campsite outside Njombe, Al said he thought the day’s ride would be about 140 km with not too many hills. Normally Al is able to give us exact distances but because we had to tweak our route after fleeing the Kitulo Plateau and because we couldn’t get onto the internet at Njombe, we had to rely on Al’s plus minus estimates. Still knackered from Kitulo but with a rest day coming up, 140 km we were sort of happy with, especially if there were no hills involved.

To make the day more challenging, Adam rode the first 20km with his back brakes jammed on. Silly boy. We had the kindest of tail winds for the first 50 km. Mark Johnson actually had to slow down for some traffic policeman manning a 50 kph speed trap.

Alas. When we got to Makambako, it turned out to be 10 km further than Al’s estimate. Our 140 km day had just turned into a 150 km day. And then our happy tailwind turned into a viscous side wind as we turned towards Iringa. But thankfully the Dutch wrote the book on riding in and with the wind. Jaap organized our peloton so as to protect the inside riders from the worst of the wind and we still flew along. But 10 guys riding at speed in a close formation, taking turns at the front and moving clockwise, is nervy stuff, especially when one of them is me.

I was especially wobbly on my bike yesterday. 10 days ago whilst trying to unscrew something, I deftly used my Leatherman to cut the middle finger on my left hand,. Because it was a deep cut, Ryan doused it liberally with wound powder which stung like buggery. Unfortunately the wound powder didn’t work too good and 3 days ago my finger started aching. I meant to ask Adam to look at it but didn’t.

And by yesterday morning, ny finger was that swollen, I couldn’t get my ride glove over it. And by the time we got to Makambako, it was throbbing, amplifying every lump and bump in the road, of which there were many. Oh what fun, especially the rumble strips, of which there were more than many.
By the time we hit 100 km, my finger was that sore I was having to ride one handed, which up hills and over rumble strips is zero fun. And the only brake I could apply was my front one. Then we found out from one of the support vehicles that Makambako to the Farm House was actually 114 km. Our ride had just ballooned out to 164 km, our longest day on the Tour. By the time, I rode into the Farm House, my finger was fat like a sausage,angry, inflamed and bloody sore. But my finger aside, I was pretty pleased at how I’d gone. We all were. All of us have now ridden into peak fitness.

It was too late to see a doctor about my finger so I self medicated with beer and I was able to get some sleep. My whole hand was fat like a baseball catcher’s mitt with mumps when I woke up.

Before going off to find a doctor, I had to pay Dick of the Day penance by riding a lap on Gideon. Jenny managed to fall off Gideon on her lap but with no one watching. We had to ride without Gideon’s WWII helmet because Ryan has managed to lose it. I think my grandmother bequeathed me the helmet in her will. Or I bought it at the St Johns Fair. I can’t remember which.

When eventually i saw a doctor, she said I have cellulitis. Which I think means the infection is into the bone. I couldn’t hear her properly over my whimpering. With the lowest of pain thresholds and a vivid imagination, i’ve met Maltese Poodles who whimper less than me. The doctors has prescribed a 7 day course of intravenous antibiotics, times 2 per day. Which is fourteen injections over the next days. I don’t think we’ll be riding past that many clinics or hospitals in the next week, so enter Adam the medic.

To swat up on his intravenous injection techniques, he last gave one 40 years ago in the army, Adam came with me to the hospital in nearby Mafinga to watch me get my first 10 cc injection, and to video it, so he has a point of reference to watch for the next week, morning and evening. But mostly I think Adam took the video so he can laugh at the ‘Oh My God, How Big Is This Roller Coaster?’ expression firmly fixed on my face throughout. Check the video out on Facebook.

I’m so not looking forward to the next week. Adam is.
And it gets worse. We’re receiving medical advice from afar. I listened to Adam’s call to a doctor back in Zim on speaker phone with horror. Apparently if the swelling on the back of my hand gets any worse, my hand will need to be lanced, from the palm side, with either a needle or a scalpel, taking care to avoid ligaments etc, so as to release the build up of pus. Rather too eagerly for my liking, Adam started asking lots of questions like what size incision, etc, etc. Thankfully the doctor on the other end of the line said better we get it done by a surgeon or a doctor at a hospital.

Already the first antibiotic injection is working. My hand is less swollen.
We’ll see how we go tomorrow, and the days after. I am determined to finish the ride and to climb the mountain afterwards. But I am also rather keen on not having my finger amputated. Thankfully I’ve got Adam, Jenny, Linda and the doctor from afar watching out for me.

I need to tell you about my Tanzanian hospital experience. It was good, real good. The nurse and doctors who gave me my tetanus and intravenous injections attended to me professionally and quickly, with smiles on their faces and apart from the cost of the cannula, the treatments were free. What’s up with that, President Ed? How come there are drugs for free in Tanzanian hospitals but no drugs at all in Zimbabwean ones? We’ve ridden through 3 other African countries and have not seen potholes, fuel queues, cash shortages, forex shortages, shortages of bread or shortages of anything. If you can’t do the job President Ed, better to stand aside for someone who can. You’re messing up our lives and we only have one.

One of the downsides of my sore finger is that I was not able to go play golf with the rest of the Old Legs team at the Mafinga Club, hosted by Janet Sanders and other members of the local community. Alas. As I write this at 23.00 the golfers are still not home yet from the golf and the curry dinner so I guess I won’t be the only one in pain on tomorrow’s ride.

The local community have been so good to us. Our host at the Farm House, Rick Ghaui, drove Alan literally hundreds of kilometers yesterday in search of bearings for his back wheel.

We are now 17 on Tour. Sue Johnson flew into Iringa yesterday to join us for the last week, to make sure Mark doesn’t lose anymore kit.. Mark quickly washed his pillowcase in the dam at Njombe before Sue arrived. I’m surprised he hasn’t been riding with the pillowcase stuck on his face it was that dirty.

From here to our end destination, the Kili Golf and Wildlife Estate between Arusha and Moshi, we’ll be adlibbing when it comes to night stops. We have 835 km left to ride in 7 days. If anyone knows of any schools or clinics or farms etc that we can camp at, please let us know.

As I re-read this blog, I’m struck by the enormity of the task we’re close to achieving. We’re 10 riders, some of us in our sixties and seventies, and we’ll have ridden 2900 kilometers, climbing over 30,000 meters in just 27 days. But the enormity of our task is dwarfed by the enormity our cause. Back home, our poor pensioners are again being reduced to nothing, for the second time in ten years, by sheer economic stupidity. Help us to help them. 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.

My next blog will come to you from somewhere on the other side of Iringa. Until then, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

A delightful little lake outside a little town called Njombe

I am blogging to you from a delightful little lake outside a little town called Njombe. I’m not supposed to be here. We should still be up at 2800 plus meters at the Kipengere National Park but we were forced to make a strategic withdrawal from the Kitulo Plateau, beaten by the road and the mountain.

The sharp shale shards that made up the road surface took their toll on the vehicles with 4 punctures, 1 shredded tyre, 1 busted rim and a busted tow hitch on one of the trailers on the drive in.

We tried to fix the punctures in camp but bust the tubeless repair tool in the process. At 07.00 the next morning, the Dairy Farm pointed us to a Mr Fix It guy down the road and we set off wrapped up with 4 layers but still bitterly cold. 2800 m up is a stupid place for a dairy farm.

One of the Land Rovers punctured yet again on the way to Mr Fix It. We were only able to get back on the crappy road again well after 10 o’clock, with 98 km ride and 2500 m of climb in front of us. Renier and John went ahead in the Patrol to the next little town to look for more tyre plugs, for just in case, leaving us with just the 2 support vehicles.

By lunchtime we’d only knocked off 38 km. The hills were too steep and my legs were broken from the day before and I ended up walking half of them. Our night stop, Igumbilo Farm, just 60 km away but back up at 2800 meters, was starting to look impossible.

We couldn’t be riding in the dark again so we cobbled together a Plan B. We’d send all 3 support vehicles ahead to the night stop, to off load before coming back with the bike trailer to find the riders on the road. Alas. Plan B didn’t work too good.

Igumbilo Farm up at 2800 meters is impossibly remote, without cellphone signal and a dreadful access road and the vehicles only got there as it was getting dark.

Meanwhile back on the road, the cyclists lost their shape and their legs and we splintered into 2 groups. The B Team, consisting of 7 riders, stopped riding at 5 o’clock, still 30 km short of our night stop. We took refuge in a road side pub full of hookers, loud music and cold beers to await uplift. Ahead of us Team A had decided to try and push on to the stop. Silly Team A.

After 3 beers, Team B moved to Plan C. The support vehicles had only just found the night stop and it would be hours before the vehicle would be able to uplift us. So we hired a 1.5 ton truck and a taxi to ferry us up to the farm. Alastair and I went in the truck with the bikes. It started getting bitterly cold but luckily our truck’s engine was overheating so we were warm like toast inside.

Somehow we managed to find Team A on the side of the road and in the dark just 18 km short of the farm. Kudos to them for a huge ride.

The last vehicle with the bikes arrived at Igumbilo Farm after 9,utterly knackered and exhausted. Thankfully we didn’t have to set up camp as David and Joyce Moyers has opened up their home to us and we arrived to a roaring fire and hot showers.

We had a quick reset. Our next leg to Kipengere National Park involving 109 km of bad roads and 2000 m of climb clearly wasn’t going to happen, not without dead cyclists and dead support vehicles. With David’s help, we plotted Plan D involving a new route down to Njombe and decent roads. I say down, but we still climbed 1200 meters getting there.

All’s well that ends well. Ryan and Bill went ahead to find us a camp site next to a delightful dam. They were also able to get the tow hitch on the trailer fixed. A delicious dinner around the campfire has worked wonders and we’re good to go for our last 140 km to our next rest day at the Farm House at Kisolanza. Thankfully, not too many hills involved apparently. Wish us luck. And please support us by
going 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, I need to acknowledge Jenny’s efforts to make sure the Dick of the Day necklace was kept in the family by forgetting her toothbrush at Igumbilo Farm. Joyce and David drove 30 km down the hill to return it to her.

The next blog will be from Kisolanza outside Iringa. Until then survive, enjoy and pedal if you can. Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

Pole Pole

The Swahili phrase Pole Pole means slowly slowly. It was first coined by a cyclist, on his way up up up the Kitulo Plateau. In case you haven’t noticed, up is the operative word in this sentence. Good Lord but we climbed today. If our ride today was a church hymn, it would be ‘Nearer My God To Thee.’

We left Rob and Petra Clowes’s lovely farmhouse at 8 o’clock, having treated ourselves to a lie in, because we were well knackered and also because Rob and Petra treated us to a scrumptious breakfast.

The ride down their long driveway was the only downhill bit we had all day. The rest was uphill all the way. Just as well because both front and back brakes on my bike have failed. Unless I can get them fixed, I’ll get to Mt Kilimanjaro well before the others, assuming there is some downhill between there and here.

My first 30 km were tough. I kept losing pressure in my new front tyre and had to stop and pump it up 3,671,141 times. At first we bombed it, until Adam and I ran out of bombs. And then it was the down to the track pump in the support vehicle. Reinier and John took turns helping me pump. Eventually to save time, I swapped my bike for the spare bike off the bike trailer. You can cue in the theme music from Jaws round about now because the spare bike is now fitted with Dave’s ex-saddle, the saddle that mortally wounded his bottom on the first few days on Tour. The saddle is like a brick but less comfortable. It is a huge pain in the arse and every pedal stroke hurt. How Dave dodged Dick of the Day for coming on a 4 week Tour on the saddle of death, I do not know.

Thankfully I only had to ride it plus minus 5 km to our breakfast stop where Dave was able to replace the rim tape on my punctured front tyre. Because I went to a technical school, I was able to supervise Dave and he did a real good job.

Thank God because after breakfast we rode on the worst dirt road up the longest, steepest up hill I’ve ever ridden. Had I ridden that on Dave’s ex-saddle, my bottom would’ve bled to death half way up. The road was absolutely terrible with rocks, ruts and corrugations, interspersed with ankle deep dust. It was impossible to find a rhythm and riding is all about rhythm, especially when you’re trying to ride up steep hills, some gradients as much as 18 percent.

We shared the road with an endless procession of motorbikes and 5 ton trucks, both ferrying goods and or passengers. Often, on the narrower section of roads, we had to get off our bikes to give them right of way. The motor bikes were all 150 cc street bikes, highly accessorized and with booming sound systems, piloted by maniacs. How they do not die plying their trade on that road, I do not know. Ditto the truck drivers. For the most part, they were really nice guys. I spoke with quite a few of them. The one chap and I passed each other more than 10 times. And every time, all I could smell was burning brakes, or the lack thereof. We rode through a crazy little town full of crazy bikers and truck drivers, well over 2000 m high up on the mountain side. It was straight out of the set of a Mad Max movie.

We summitted at 2800 m, well above the tree line, and only then were we able to appreciate the vastness of the Plateau. It stretched out in every direction, impossibly huge vistas as far as the eye could see. It’s not dissimilar to Nyanga and or Chimanimani, just way bigger, like times ten or more. And all covered in wild flowers, only very few of which were in flower. To come back when they’re in bloom is an absolute must, but this time in a car. My legs will kick me to death if I come back here on a bike.

I was helped up the mountain by The Script playing loud in my earphones. The lyrics of one of their songs called Superheroes jumped out at me. ‘Every day and every hour, turning pain into power.’ I listened to it over and over.

We’re camping on a dairy farm 2800 m high. I do not know why you would put a dairy farm this remote or up this high. I haven’t seen any cows. I think they all died in a blizzard. It is absolutely bloody freezing up here. In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned that I was looking forward to donning my thermal Arctic kit. Which was a snag. Because the roads took their toll on the support vehicle. Jen and Linda got horribly lost in the Disco Two and then punctured. Ryan had to go off to rescue them in Disco One. And then Reinier and John also punctured in the Patrol. Leaving us cyclists at the camp site with only the water bowser. We foraged for firewood and got a fire going, more smoke than fire but with some warmth. When eventually the vehicles arrived, we were frozen stiff. After a reunion with our kit, we got camp up in the dark. Somehow Jen and Linda got a delicious Spag Bol dinner out which we disappeared, before hitting our tents.
But before bed, we had to attend to the Dick of the Day nominations. Mark Johnson was nominated and deservedly so for forgetting his pillow at last night’s pit stop. Mark left Harare with 120 liters of kit but has lost most of that. We’re running a book on him arriving at Mt Kili stark bollock naked. I was the other nomination, cruelly nominated by Carol Joy, for eating my breakfast on a piano this morning and for spilling some scrambled eggs on the said piano. Sorry Rob and Petra but Carol Joy did clean up after me. Apparently defiling pianos is serious business and I walked with my 2nd Dick of the Day of the Tour. I should point out that Carol Joy is a pianist when not on her bike. Things are hotting up on DOD front with me, Ryan and Alan all on two DOD’s each.

And on the subject of hotting up, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned but it is bloody cold here. I’m typing this in my minus 20 sleeping bag, wearing two sets of thermals and a jersey, and still I’m cold. I bursting for a wee but haven’t dared go out for one, in case I do a Captain Oats and succumb to frostbite.

Old Legs is all about having fun, doing good and doing epic. And boy did we do epic today. We did it in spades, climbing well over 2000 meters, spending more than 9 hours in the saddle.

Please also help us to attend to the doing good bit by going 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.

Tomorrow is more of the same, just with more climbing, 2500 meters worth, but with way more downhill, which could be interesting with no brakes. Wish us luck.
Until tomorrow’s blog, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can

Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

We crossed into Tanzania this morning and immediately, those of us from Zimbabwe were discriminated against terribly

The border post money changers were busy dealing with incoming travelers, changingSouth African Rands, Malawian Kwacha, Zambian Kwacha for local TZ Shillings but as soon as I offered up Zim money he rudely told me sorry no and got busy changing Meticals from Mozambique instead. “Not so fast my good man” I told him sternly, “Zimbabwe is a bonafide member of COMESA, SADACC and the AU and according to Eddie Cross, our money is the strongest in the region and better you start taking Zim currency ,either RTGS or bond dollars or even Ecocash or risk a major international incident.”

The money changer and his friends, there was a whole rugby scrum of them by now, told me no, Zimbabwe money it is shit. I was incensed. But for the fact we were already outside, I would have taken it outside. “Zimbabwe is a great and proud sovereign nation”, I told the money changer. “Impugn her currency and you impugn me” “I don’t care” he said, “Zimbabwe money, it is shit.”
I told him we had the biggest waterfalls in the world and, until last year, we boasted the world’s oldest and longest lasting President. “I still don’t care” he said, “Zimbabwe money it is still shit.”
“Once in 1957, we even famously beat the New Zealand All Blacks at rugby.”
“I don’t care, it is still shit.”
“How about I give you a special buy one RTGS and get four free deal?”
“I’m going to tell my Minister of Foreign Affairs on you and he used to be a General and he’ll most probably bomb Tanzania.”
“Still no.” Damn those money changers.

Aggrieved, we crossed into Tanzania nonetheless and started pedaling. And immediately we got a sense of the country’s vastness, not least of all because our average speed had bled off to under 10 kph on account of the hills in Tanzania, of which there are many. When I eventually climbed to the top of our first big hill, I looked out over Tanzania and as far as I could see in any direction were other hills stretching away as far as the eye could see. I think when God made Africa, he had a lot of lumpy bits leftover and he stuck them all in South Tanzania.
Whilst on the subject of lumpy, my front tyre started bulging alarmingly like it was pregnant on a downhill descent. I tried to carry on riding as best I could but it was horrible, like walking with a stone in your shoe. Dave suggested I bind the bulge tightly with duct tape, mostly so he could capture me cocking the repairs up on camera. Duct tape is a bike rider’s best friend and I wrapped my entire stock around my tyre tightly, unfortunately missing the bulge, mostly wrapping a section of perfectly good tyre. Alas. I carried on limping until the support vehicle caught up and Dave changed my front tyre quickly while I supervised.

We rode through the town of Tukuyu which was all noise and crazy bedlam. Tanzanians seem more affluent than Malawians with more motorbikes than bicycles. I saw a road sign telling road users to observe road signs.

We’re spending the night outside Tukuyu at the beautiful home of Rob and Petra Clowes, ex Chipinge now living in Tanzania. Rob and Petra are in SA attending their daughter’s university graduation but have opened up their beautiful home to us. And Rob’s friends Paul Metcalfe, ex Shamva, drove 63 km from Mbeya to cook us up a storm of giant T bone steaks, roasted chickens, boerewors and salads. We’re blown away by the hospitality. Not many would open up their homes to 16 strangers. It is great to see how Zimbabweans have been able to pick up the pieces of their lives and start afresh successfully after being booted out of homes and off farms by their government for being white Zimbabweans. But it is also sad because chances are they’ll never come home again. Alas. Tanzania’s gain, Zimbabwe’s loss.

Adam entered the Dick of the Day stakes yesterday after being nominated by Mark for riding his bike without a chain. And all along I thought Mark and Adam were friends.

I’d like to acknowledge our sponsors. Thank you to Andy, Stuart, Zelda, Dougie and all the other guys at FX Logistics. And thank you to all KFC not just for your sponsorship but for the ongoing assistance provided to Zimbabwe’s pensioners.
If you would like to follow their lead, please 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.

I’d like to wish my mom back home in Zimbabwe a happy birthday. I’m sorry I can’t be there to eat all your cake.

Tomorrow we’ll climb another 2000 plus meters up on to the Kitulo Plateau. We’ll be camping on a dairy farm at high altitude. It will be very cold and I’m looking forward to renting out my thermal underwear.

Until then, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can- Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.