Riding is all about rhythm but rhythm is impossible if you’re lumping and bumping over boulders

We rode up Sally the mountain today – 17 km and 1200 m of straight up climb on the tattiest roads imaginable. Riding is all about rhythm but rhythm is impossible if you’re lumping and bumping over boulders. 

For those of you who haven’t met her yet, Sally replaced the infamous Barbara on the Blue Cross route 3 years ago. She’s tougher, higher, way more pretty and way more epic. And as compared to last year, for me Sally had way more teeth this year – mostly because I didn’t have access to my granny gears. The teeth on my small chain gear started getting chewed up somewhere on the way to Tanzania but finally called it quits on Sally’s foothills. I also now know that granny gears were first invented by a cyclist with big gears only on his way up a mountain. I punctured for the second time on the way up Sally. Thankfully Laurie happened along to assist. Having attended a technical school, I was able to supervise the repairs and credit to Laurie, he did a good job .

When I get home I think I’m going to invent the concept of preventative maintenance where stuff gets fixed before it gets bust. And if it works, I’ll rent the concept out to people like President Ed and his Minister of Roads.

On the positives, I’m riding on a new gel saddle. It is that comfortable, I almost nodded off a few times on the ride.
And man it was pretty today. The Brachstygia forests up top of Sally were pristine, albeit near impossible to spell.
Margie especially loved the ride on her shiny new Giant Trance and we saw only the back of her head briefly. Ditto Viv Knott and Jerry from Alaska whose surname escapes me. Jerry is a doctor from America on the last year of a four year stint in Zimbabwe and he is like a sponge trying to soak it all in. He’s absolutely loving the Blue Cross. At the back of the peloton, Patrick honed his falling off his bike skills.

Jenny and I lost both stretchers off the roof rack on top of Sally despite the fact that they’d been tied down securely by moi, using a combination of sheep shanks and reef knots. The first time we noticed they were missing was when I unpacked the roof rack on arrival at Fiddlers Green. Because the prospect of sleeping on the floor sans stretchers is at the very far and opposite end of the Happy wife Happy life spectrum, recriminations flew, mostly in my direction with Jenny heaping all the blame on my sheepshanks and reef knots. I tried valiantly to divert some of the blame on to her driving and President Ed’s road maintenance skills but I didn’t get a look in.
Thankfully Ian Ridell drove up with both stretchers having happened upon on them on the side of the road in the middle of the bush in the middle of nowhere. So all’s well that ends well. Except I’m still in the crap and in line for a Dick of the Day nomination. An irrational fear of unfair DOD nominations is exactly why the Pope never got married in the first place.

The crappy roads continue to take their toll. First Laurie’s trailer got bust and now the sub-tank on the Patrol is US. Which is a snag because our strategic fuel reserves are stored in the sub-tank. I offered to try a fix the problem with my Leatherman but Jenny worries I’ll die of blood loss in the process. We’ve arranged to buy fuel in Mutare but we wait with bated breath to see if we get there. For those of you not living in Zimbabwe you need to know that fuel stations in Zimbabwe no longer sell fuel. Alas.

We’re camping tonight at Fiddler’s Green. The photos on the wall tell a story of happier times back when polo was still played at Fiddlers. Roy Bennett is up on the wall, young, smiling and happy, before he got persecuted for standing up. Alas. There’s no shortage of derelict farming districts in Zimbabwe but I think Chipinge is stand out the most forlorn. The empty lands that we rode through looked miserable and neglected instead of busy and productive. Alas.

Myrana and Alwena served up the best ever Babotie for dinner followed by best ever melt in your mouth meringues. I managed to amuse when my cramps got cramps. In a clear violation of his Hippocratic Oath, Jerry the doctor found them especially funny. And then afterwards I got mugged at Dick of the Day awards on a bunch of trumped up and trivial charges – failing to tie down stretchers properly, for not being adept at puncture repair, for eating all the black jelly babies, trying to solicit sympathy through cramps etc, etc. I worry about the state of our democracy in Zimbabwe.

We’re riding the Blue Cross to raise money and awareness for the SPCA. If you can, please donate –
– Blue Cross (Mutare SPCA)
account number -1004599471
CABS Mutare Branch. Their Ecocash merchant number is 33423.

Tomorrow we ride to Chimanimani through the Rusito Valley. It will be our first monster climb day with over 2000 meters of up. We’ll come face to face with the destruction that Cyclone Idai wreaked a few months back. Rather than try and grind up in big gears only on my bike, Laurie is lending me a go faster carbon framed Anthem.

Until my next blog from Chimanimani, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

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