July 10 2022 – Day 8 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour

From Vic Falls to Kazangula

Distance – 91 km
Time – 7 hrs 56 min
Ascent – 455 m
Av Heart Rate – 114 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 182 bpm.
NB I maxed my heart rate trying to dice a guy on a motorbike but I came second.


This blog is coming to you from Kazangula, the Zambian version, not the Zimbabwean one. I have long wanted to travel to where 4 countries meet -Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia and am very excited to be here.


The Zambian border officials allowed us to ride across the new bridge today, but only as far as the third upright pillar. We jumped off our bikes and stood and took time to marvel at the bridge itself with it’s clean futuristic, sweeping lines; at the power and expanse of the mighty Zambezi River as it surged below us headed for Vic Falls and beyond. But mostly we marveled at how badly Zimbabwe cocked up by not participating in the Bridge project, and the cost of the opportunity lost.


I’m thinking that on those days when he is feeling especially grumpy, President Ed stands on the Zimbabwean corner and throws rocks at all the ZALAWI trucks that used to transit through Zimbabwe, but not anymore.


I can see why the transporters much prefer routing via Botswana and Zambia instead where they can enjoy good roads, no toll gate after toll gate after toll gate, but best of all, no endless queues and corruption at Beitbridge and Chirundu. The new one- stop border post between Zambia and Botswana is shiny and efficient and looks like a European airport on the inside. Alas.


We rode just 91 kilometers today because Adam allowed for 4 hour delays at the border. We rode west on excellent tar, just like a Zimbabwean highway, but without the potholes and the kamikaze Honda Fit drivers.


We exited Zimbabwe over the Victoria Falls Bridge. It was epic. Apparently Cecil John Rhodes sited the bridge such that people crossing would be able to feel the spray from the Victoria Falls on their faces. Rhodes died the year construction on the bridge finished in 1902.


Our bike trailer almost didn’t exit Zimbabwe, because Adam is very careful to keep important documentation in a safe place, unfortunately at home. Big thanks to Paul Connolly who hustled and bustled for us on a Sunday, certifying true copies of the registration documents and letters of permission to cross borders. Adam is now resplendent in the Dick of the Day tutu and wig while Ryan enjoys the Hero’s tall hat for remaining unflappable in the crisis.


I first visited Livingstone in the early 80’s and remember feeling sorry for the Zambians at the chaos Kaunda had wreaked upon their economy, resulting in empty supermarket shelves and silly prices with many, many naughts. Well they certainly have moved on from those not-so-heady days.


We enjoyed Livingstone the town, especially the Shoprite supermarket like kids in the proverbial sweetie shop. Linda and Jenny were able to shop up a storm for supplies. In solidarity with Ukraine, Al Watermeyer and I bought delicious Hungarian sausages instead of traditional Russian sausages. Damn you, Putin.


We rode through Zambia’s Mosi- Ao-Tunya National Park. Sweeping at the back of the peloton, Al and I saw zebra and a magnificent white-backed vulture.


Jaime rode with us at the back on doctors orders after suffering a strain of the diaphragm after over exerting on one of the first week’s stupidly steep climbs.


The Old Legs Riders vs Support Olympics continue. Following Russell and Keegan’s dismally pathetic performance in the General Knowledge Quiz and in the ‘ I Spy With My Little Eye’ classifications. On a 3125 kilometer , 11 strong bicycle tour, Russell and Keegan were unable to guess C for cyclist.


I was starting to regard them as low-hanging fruit there for the plucking. But Russell recovered strongly yesterday and put in a winning performance in the final of the Riders vs Support Belly Flop competition. We were very hot and sweaty after our ride and our quirky and very bling little guest lodge has a beautiful swimming pool. Alas. Even though I have been eating like a horse, I stood no chance and Russell’s impressive tummy splash far eclipsed mine.


Tomorrow we continue west as far as the Zambia town of Mwandi, which looks to be in a swamp on the Zambezi River. Adam has told me I can expect to see shoebills but I am sure he is fibbing. I fully expect to see many mosquitoes and will deploy the mozzie net in our tent, provided I can negotiate a decent lease back from Howard.


We are riding 3125 kilometers to the Skeleton Coast to raise money for Zimbabwe’s pensioners.


We have received an appeal from Mary Jones, not her real name, a widow in Zimbabwe staring down a shortfall equivalent to 1000 Aussie dollars on an urgent operation that she simply cannot afford. In response we have received a 100 Club challenge out of Australia from Julie McKenzie in Budrrim. She is looking for 9 others to join her 100 Club by matching her $100 start- up contribution, or 90 others at $10 each, to help Mary reach her $1000 target. We’re hoping others will be challenged to get their own 100 Clubs up and running, and so on and so on. Please keep this thread going and help us help others.


In closing, big hugs from afar to Jocelyn, Cailyn, Colton and Tegan – we love and miss you guys lots.
Until my next blog from the swamps of Mwandi, enjoy and have fun, do good and do epic – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong


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