We rode out of Mozambique today and into Malawi, chasing down a target of 125 kms and 1700 m of climb
To start, I personally found the chase easy, even with brutal climbs that hurt your legs and didn’t stop, and figured a lunchtime finish to be on the cards, leaving the afternoon in Dedza for lazy. Alas.
My plan went about as well as Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky’s romance. Some riders struggled, I dropped back to help them. It got hotter with the sun right in our faces, it got steeper and my afternoon of lazy got long and The borders were slow and confusing and eventually i rode into Dedza Pottery Lodge at 16.00, fatigued to the point where I almost applied hemorrhoid ointment to my burnt chapped lips. Same difference really.
There was so much up today, the optimist in me thinks we must be into the foothills of Kilimanjaro but as they say in Germany, I believe his pig is whistling . The optimist in me is a bloody fool.
Dave rode in a world of pain today. I’ve ridden thousands of kilometers with him and always behind him. Today roles were reversed, courtesy of his wounded bottom. I told him better to take it to the ride medic but Dave is scared Adam will sew a button on it.
Apart from the hustle and bustle of Tete, all we’ve ridden through in Mozambique is poverty, on today’s ride especially. For 90 kms, the only economic activity I saw were kids on side of the road, selling and buying stolen diesel to and from passing truckers. I saw no farming to speak of, no shops, not even bottle stores, certainly no factories or places of formal employment, just tens of thousands of poor people mostly seated, doing nothing that I could see to break the chains of poverty . It was especially sad that thousands and thousands of children who should have been busy learning at school but weren’t, lined the roadsides instead to watch, wave and cheer us on. Those poverty chains will remain firmly in place for at least another generation to come. Alas.
But that’s not to say the people we saw weren’t happy. They were all smiles, all day long. Apart from the one chap I was riding next to who shook his head sadly in sympathy when he found out I was from Zimbabwe. He used to work in Bulawayo long ago he said, before it got bad and hoped that things would get better again .
I need to pay tribute to our support staff. Jenny, Linda, Bill, John, Reinier and Ryan all looked beyond exhausted when finally arrived at Dedza Pottery after struggling for 4 hours to clear the cars at the border. Without their help, the riders would be knackered and still back somewhere between Mukumbura and Tete. And yes this is an obsequious (a word I learnt yesterday riding next to Alistair) attempt to suck up in search of Dick of the Day immunity going forward.
I did my first penalty ride on Gideon this morning and am in no rush to do another. Despite the fact he is a piece of precision sporting equipment imported all the way from China at great expense, $55.00 all in, a kilometer on Gideon is hard work.
Nik Bellwald a.k.a. Crash also rode his penalty ride on Gideon for crashing on Day 2 and for not telling his wife and daughter that he was okay, crashed again on his penalty ride on Gideon. But don’t worry Alexandra, your dad is fine. Although Gideon got scratched.
Al Watermeyer is yesterday’s Dick of the Day. After shopping for donuts at a roadside market, he was seen throwing away the blue plastic packet with scant disregard for the environment and the whales. What a Dick.
And whilst on the subject of Dicks, back home Jenny and I are now proud owners of 7 Great Danes. Molly and ex- boyfriend Alfie had 6 puppies yesterday. Apparently mother and puppies are doing good. Alfie is proving to be a real ‘Wham Bam, Thank You Mam’ cad though and so far hasn’t sent Molly no flowers, no dog biscuits, no dog food, no nothing. What a Dick.
Tomorrow we ride 135 km to Salima, mostly all downhill thank goodness and then onto Lake Malawi. The first 7 days of the Old Legs Tour are behind us and 20 to go.
Thanks to Andy Pattenden for sponsoring Adam ten cents a km. Follow his lead and help us help others.
Go to www.oldlegstour.co.zw and follow the donate prompts.
Until then, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can.
Eric Chicken Legs de Jong