Today’s ride from Mt Darwin to Mukumbura was hard, especially for Nik Bellwald who crashed at speed when we hit, in his case literally, a stretch of bad corrugations in the middle of nowhere.

Thank God Nik was wearing a good helmet because he ploughed into Terra Firma head first, busting his helmet in the process. Nik should also thank God that Adam is the ride medic, not me. Adam remained calm and collected, while I spent the 5 minutes that Nik was unconscious panicking. In a previous life, Adam was an army medic. And on top of that, I’m thinking he’s watched every episode of Grey’s Anatomy, twice. While he checked for blocked airways, major breaks and diluted pupils, I ran around looking for a Fisherman’s Friend in case I was called on to do mouth to mouth.

Long story short, apart from scrapes and bruises and a boiled egg of note on his forehead, Nik’s okay. Bill and Ryan took him to the Mukumbura Clinic where the nursing staff checked him out again and patched him up.Huge thanks to Ruth and her the nursing staff. They were professional and nice with it.
Nik will stay off his bike for a couple of days until he stops feeling like a bus ran him over.

Nik’s crash gave us all a big wake up call. Going forward, each ride group i.e. the racing snakes and the mere mortals, will have a ride boss to slow things down and keep them safe on the bad bits.

For the rest, the ride was epic. The first 60 kms were on good tar and the last 65 on dirt, some bone shaking bad. The scenery was spectacular throughout,especially as we dropped down the escarpment into the Zambezi Valley. We had the roads to ourselves, passing less than 10 cars in the 8 hours on the road. We felt the love all day from some of the friendliest people ever, who from what I could see have nothing.
I struggled in the heat, especially towards the end. And it didn’t help that the end went on forever. Like the song says, it is a long way to Mukumbura. Not knowing where you are going to is the worst and carries a high Dickability factor. Thankfully I am able to blame ZESA for my ignorance as they contributed greatly to my failure to load the tracks on my Garmin. I could have asked Al Watermeyer how far but I’ve stopped believing him after it became very apparent that he has absolutely no idea what the words gentle and undulating mean. So Instead I stopped and asked a wise, old guy on the side of the road for directions, slipping into my seamless Shona “Upi lo Mukumbura, sekuru?” He said “Huh?” Bummer. A non Shona speaker. So I repeated the question in English. “How far is Mukumbura?” He squinted up at the sun and told me 21 kilometers, exactly. My bottom celebrated. 60 kilometers later with still no sign of Mukumbura, my bottom stopped celebrating and went back to threatening mutiny instead, despite a treble layer of padding.
Eventually at 3 o’clock, I limped in last,helped along by Mark Johnson whose shaved legs worked better than my pink racing socks.

For those who don’t know, Mukumbura was the epicenter of the Rhodesian bush war in the early to mid seventies and home to the world famous Mukumbura Surf Club and one of the largest mine fields ever. I promised John Stanton a photo of the Surf Club, his dad was one of the founder members. So Mark and I rode to the police station. The building that housed the Surf Club is still standing, but only just. I asked the boss cop if I could take a photo of the near ruin but he strictly forbid it for reasons of national security I guess.
Unfortunately Mukumbura’s mine fields have stood the test of time better than the Surf Club. Forty years on, they’re still clearing land mines. We’re actually camping in a huge demining camp funded by the British and American governments. To get to Halo camp, we rode next and through 12 kilometers of mine fields, yet to be cleared. Every time we spooked a family of goats on our bikes, they’d run off into the bush and I’d panic and feel hugely guilty, waiting for bangs and mutton. Amazingly, in amongst the bits of bush that have been fully cleared, families live surrounded by red danger signs and carry on with their lives as best they can.

Tomorrow morning we cross into Mozambique and head north towards Caborra Bassa. Thankfully and because I speak fluent Portuguese, we’ll be able to buy beer, ice, calamari and prawns but not fuel or vegetables, because I don’t know those words.
It will be a long ride, 142 km, half on tar and half on dirt and all bloody hot with no shortage of Alastair’s stupidly steep gently undulating.
Even more hot than the weather, is the competition for Dick of the Day. Nik was a shoo in for breaking his helmet and denting Earth but his injuries bought him Dick of the Day immunity. Alastair put in a huge trot by traumatizing my Go Pro. Al’s dickability factor is strong within him and allows him to get simple instructions like smile and bare your bottom mixed up. But Al was pipped at the post by Hans, for essentially riding too strongly. Hans might be a Judge in real life but he’s a crappy defense lawyer.
Tonight we’ll be camping at Gerry McCallum’s fish farm on the shores of the lake. I expect to struggle again today and expect to lose 7 kilos in body mass, mostly in snot. I am on toilet roll number 7 and still my nose is running like Usain Bolt. But I’m a happier bunny than Mark Johnson because Liverpool scored twice and Tottenham scored none. Bummer dude. To cheer him up I keep telling Mark he’ll never walk alone but he told me to Piss off. I think He’s
been hanging around my kit bag. Which continues evil. When eventually it spat my pink racing socks out, one of them had a big hole in the toe. I asked Jenny to darn it but she also told me piss off. Alas.

If you’re more capable of love than either Mark Johnson, my kitbag or Jenny, who I happen to know owns a perfectly good darning needle, then please go to In Zimbabwe, transfer to Bulawayo Help Network via their CABS Platinum Account number 1124733450 or their Ecocash merchant number 139149. Monies donated help pensioners country wide.

Until next’s blog from Caborra Bassa, survive, enjoy and pedal slower on life’s corrugations- Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

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