July 6 2022 – Day 5 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour –
From Chizarira to Milibizi
Distance – 139 km
Time – 9 hrs 17 min
Ascent – 902 m
Av Heart Rate – 121 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 175 bpm
Max Temp 34 deg C
I’m not sure what God was thinking when he made the Zambezi Valley. He had the perfect opportunity to go with a user-friendly flat floor, but instead, He went with extremely lumpy with more uptulations than undulations. Uptulations as defined the Al Watermeyer dictionary are like undulations, just more steep and more horrible, especially in 35 degree heat.
We rode through the Sijarira Forest. We saw our first Beware of Elephants sign, and shortly thereafter, our first fresh elephant dung. The elephant in the sign was scrawny, but the dung on the ground was huge, and still steaming. I flung the dung at Ryan when he stopped to take a photo, because I’ve also wanted to do that, and because he’s paparazzi.
We rode through massive swathes of bush for hours and saw not a single person or a single car. It is was beautiful. I think we passed 4 cars all day.
Further west we started to see villages. The farmers in Binga district are more poor than those in Gokwe, if such a thing is possible. From what I can see mostly they farm rocks and goats and zero crops. Which is criminal considering the area has one of the world’s largest fresh water lakes on it’s doorstep, plus unlimited sun. If I was a villager from Binga I would seriously consider catching a dinghy to England and a plane to Rwanda.
But there are some signs of development. We rode past a large sign in the middle of the dry, arid bush, kindly erected by the Civic Protection Zimbabwe, telling the people to beware of crocodiles, hippopotamus and drowning.
We also saw a large area of fenced off bush in the middle of the bush, bought and paid at considerable cost by US AID and the American people. From what we could see there was nothing happening inside the fence but I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, and worth the money spent. Thank you Joe Biden.
The Zim government have also started working on the new highway as promised by Mugabe in 1980. Better late than never I guess. The drivers of the 4 cars we passed will be thrilled. I just hope they don’t use Made In China graders.
We luxuriated on tar before and after lunch, but wilted badly in the heat and on the hills in the last 50 kilometers to our night stop at Milibizi. With over 2000 kilometers of hot bush and desert in front of us, riders will have to take electrolytes more seriously going forward.
I was very happy to ride into Milibizi
at the end of a very long day. It seems crazy that we were here just 7 weeks ago for the start of the Crocodile Tour. I found energy enough to dice 2 picanins on a Buffalo bike and won, but only because their chain came off.
After 550 km of hills, hard riding and bush camps, we are styling at the Milibizi Resort. Last night we feasted on grilled bream, luxuriated in proper beds and hot showers and on flush toilets. Tomorrow we will ride 93 kilometers through the Kavira Forest Area and part of the Kavango Zambezi Transfronteir Conservation Area to the Zambezi River.
Until my next blog, have fun, do good, do epic – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong