July 26 – Day 25 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour

 -from the one horse town of Warmquelle to the other one horse town of Palmwag

Day 25
Kilometers – 92
Time – 7 hrs 34 min
Av Heart Rate – 123 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 160 bpm


The worst days of my childhood were porridge days. I was a boarder at Vumba Junior School briefly. The matron was a Mrs Churchill. There was no Mr Churchill. I think she murdered him. She was that scary, if Hitler had come up against her in World War Two, he would have sued for peace.


But easily the worst thing about Mrs Churchill was her porridge. It was brown like mud, but stank worse. One mouthful of the stodgy sludge was too much, but you couldn’t leave the dining room until you’d finished a 5 kg bowl of the foul stuff. I would clunk my teeth and gag on every mouthful.


All porridge days were bad, but some were worse than others. My worst bowl of porridge I started eating when I was 8 and only finished when I was 9. Yesterday’s ride reminded me of one of those worst porridge days.


We left our Ongongo Waterfall Campsite in high spirits and wonderfully rested after a rest day spent doing not a lot. One of the dogs we’d adopted didn’t want us to leave and bit our front tyres and chased after us for the first 5 kilometers.


Apparently we rode through the one horse town of Warmquelle but I didn’t notice either the town, or the horse. The scenery I did notice. It was huge, vast, empty, big vistas that stretched all the way to the horizon, blah, blah, blah, as mentioned in previous blogs.


We saw wild springbok and ostriches in the distance, but no elephants, only elephant shit. It is very cool that wildlife happens outside the game reserves in Namibia.


We rode due south, which was a snag, because the wind was headed due north. We’ve been blessed with the most favorable of tail winds almost all the way from Harare, so we’d forgotten that wind is a 4-letter word when it hits you in the face.


Unbeknownst to me, because I don’t pay attention during briefings, we were also climbing an invisible 2 percent gradient nonstop for the first 50 kilometers. My legs were feeling like they were pedalling through Mrs Churchill’s porridge. I noticed neither the wind nor the gradient, and blamed the hard going on binding brakes and failing wheel bearings instead. I also blamed the road. It was hard gravel, loose in places, soft sand in others.


My porridge legs were such that I stopped at every opportunity. I stopped to shop at an empty roadside shop but bought nothing.
I stopped to talk with a Herero lady all dressed up in her Sunday best even though it was Tuesday.


The Herero ladies wear long dresses that are more like formal gowns, made from the heaviest material. The fashion dates all the way back to when the Germans were boss. It looks quaint but seems crazy that the Herero continue to cling to a harsh and unpleasant time in their history instead of their own now forgotten tribal traditions. Lewis Hamilton would frown upon them, but I think they are cool, even in their heavy dresses.


We saw no people all day, apart from my Herero ladies, and some tourists who looked at us as though we were mad as they passed us in their air conditioned 4 x4 vehicles.


Jaime and I briefly debated which businesses had the best chances of failing if we launched them on that road from Warmquelle to Palmwag. Our top four not in order are I) a window washing company II) a household appliance repair shop III) a piano tuning and repair shop IV) and a surf shop.


Pickings for woodpeckers got progressively slimmer and the countryside progressively harsher the further south we rode. As we neared Palmwag, the vegetation gave out and rocks took over, apart from some very ugly kind of Euphorbia and some Uber cool trees that wouldn’t look out of place on a U2 album cover. We are now in proper desert.


And then there were the hills, almost 1000 meters worth of them. Because I thought I’d heard Adam describe them as mere bumps in his briefing, they were entirely unexpected. And they came one after the other, unrelenting. My porridge legs hated each and every one of them. Based on yesterday’s performance, I have no idea how I climbed Chizarira.


And apparently we have more of the same tomorrow, just worse, with 120 kilometers and 1400 meters of climb on more crap roads, including a monster 26 percent gradient. Already, as I type, I am hating it. But I’m also loving it.


I am enjoying the best adventure of my life. The scenery is out of this world, literally. Namibia is every bit as good as I expected, and then some. I hope to see a desert elephant tomorrow. Although how anything can live in this nothing is beyond me.


We are riding 3125 kilometers through Africa’s harshest landscapes to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. Most of us are well on the wrong side of 60, one of is 73 years young. Please help us help those less fortunate.


Until my next blog from somewhere in the middle of nowhere town called Twyfelfontein ,have fun, do good and do epic if you can –
Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

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