July 7 2022 – Day 6 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour
From Milibizi to Sidinda Fishing Camp, Deka.
Distance – 99 km
Time – 8 hrs 10 min
Ascent – 963 m
Av Heart Rate – 118 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 169 bpm
Max Temp 35 deg C
Impossibly the Skeleton Coast Tour gets better and better, with each day more stand-out than the best-ever-day before. Impossibly the days also get tougher. But all of us are riding into the levels of fitness that we should have started with, to the point where we look forward to next hill so we can enjoy the view.
We had Day 7 down as a doddle but that came and bit us on our bottoms, some harder than others.
The decent tar road out of Milibizi was marred by a series of horribly pointless hills. Pointless hills are hills that hurt you all the way to the top, and then when you get there, there isn’t even a view to enjoy or a sense of achievement, just another bloody hill in front of you. It is best described as a grind.
But nothing as compared to the daily grind suffered by the water collectors that we saw working a dry river 5 kilometers out of Milibizi.
Jaime, Ryan and I stopped to commiserate with 2 women and a young man already sweating in the river bed, and it wasn’t even 8 in the morning.
The villagers had dug a large meter deep hole in the sandy river bed. As the water seeped slowly into the hole, they filled their 25 liter buckets, all 17 of them, cup by cup. And when the buckets were full, they had to hump the half ton of water 30 meters out of the steep riverbed to their waiting oxcart for the last 5 kilometer schlep home.
They told us it was a daily chore for them. Worst of all, the water tasted crap, horribly brackish, the opposite of fresh.
That this is happening in the 21st Century not 10 kilometers from one of the world’s largest fresh water lakes in the world is stupid and lazy governance taken to a whole other level. Alas. The villagers are also stupid for allowing their leaders to get away with it.
We are eating like gannets. In fact we make gannets look bulimic. According to his Garmin, Nick Selby burnt 5900 calories on yesterday’s ride. That is equivalent to 20 cheeseburgers. The best food on Tour, apart from all the food prepared by Linda and Jenny, are Ryan’s mom’s biscuits. Helen baked us 18 kilos. I don’t think they will last to Vic Falls. I have no idea why Ryan left home.
Thankfully we turned off the tar 20 kilometers out of Milibizi back on to a dirt road less travelled. Even with corrugations, it was so good to ride through empty bush, with no cars and no people. I rode slowly at the back on my own, soaking the moment up like a sponge.
On your own can get boring so I took time out to defeat Russell and Keegan on the walkie-talkies in the Grand Final of Skeleton Coast General Knowledge Quiz. Up for grabs, the losing teams jelly babies to Swakopmund. It was like clubbing seals. They didn’t even know Superman’s adopted mom’s first name.
The sun wasn’t high in the sky and already it was brutally hot. There were zero Mad Dogs and Englishmen to be seen,just stupid Old Legs on their bicycles. It must have been 35 degrees today. I have no idea what happened to winter in this part of the world
Thankfully I was riding with Al Watermeyer when we crossed the Gwaai river. There is something in the Watermeyer genes that does not permit them to cross a river on a hot day without frolicking in it. Al, Pete, Russell and I enjoyed the best skinny dip ever.
Somehow we managed to climb 1000 meters today in 35 degree heat. The worst of the hills happened in the last 20 kilometers. They were stupidly steep with gradients of 15 and 16 percent, one after the other, after the other, after the other. I rode the exact same route in 2020. Because I have an uncanny ability to filter out bad memories and severe trauma, they were entirely unexpected.
Unfortunately I was also able to filter out 15 of the last 18 kilometers allowing me to reliably inform Al that we only had 3 kilometers to camp, and no more hills. Al celebrated the good news with a cold beer. Which turned out to be rather like Edmund Hillary popping the cork on the foothills of Everest before even Base Camp. Thankfully Al was too knackered to punch me when eventually we struggled into camp 2 hours later.
Also unfortunately, because we are athletes and in the public eye, I had to bust Al for Dick of the Day for denigrating the Tour into a booze cruise.
In closing, a shout out to Alexandra Bellwald, your dad hasn’t crashed yet, and we’re thinking we might have to reassign his nickname Crash elsewhere. He is enjoying his best adventure ever hugely, but his bottom not so much, on his hard tail bike on the corrugated roads. Ditto Howard Thompson.
We are all having our best adventure ever. I have resisted the urge to look at my phone and don’t even know who won the last Grand Prix. I did pick up on a rumor though that Boris has been booted. Which will be a pity. I did like Boris. He once described Jeremy Corbin as a benign herbivore. The hyena pack that is the British media will soon have another poor bugger to feed upon.
We rode into signal briefly somewhere between Chizarira and Milibizi. The first message to hit my phone was from a widow in her sixties needing for a new valve for her heart. She lost her husband, her pension and everything she owns in the hyperinflation. She has been quoted $30,000 for the operation. Currently, she struggles to even pay her rent. Her appeal has given more power to my legs.
We are riding to raise money for Zimbabwe’s pensioners, exactly like her. Please help us help her by following the donate prompts on www.oldlegstour.com.
Please also be invited to join Brad Johnson of Z Sculptures at the famous Nambor Garden Show in Queensland for great deals on your recycled Garden art sculptures made in Zimbabwe. Z Sculptures is owned by Olds Legs veteran Mark Johnson. This advert has cost Mark all his jelly babies to Swakopmund.
Until my next blog from Victoria Falls, please have fun, do good and do epic if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong