July 30- Day 29 of the Old Legs Skeleton Coast Tour
-from the Brandberg Massif to the other side of the mountain, on our way to the Messum Crater.
Apologies for this blog coming to you a day late but we had no signal in the desert.
Kilometers – 66 km
Time – 7 hrs 09 min
Av Heart Rate – 113 bpm
Max Heart Rate – 163 bpm
We rode around the base of the Brandberg mountain today, from the east side to the west side. That took us the best part of all day.
Namibia is big in a plane, huge in a car, but on a bicycle, it goes on forever, especially if there is deep, soft sand involved. And for the record, the west side of the mountain looks same same like the east side. And also for the record, Namibia remains empty. We saw 2 cars and 1 person the whole day.
My Garmin watch clocked my average speed today at just 12 k.p.h. We rode slow because of the sand, but also because there was zero pressure on us for the first time on Tour. Our night stop was a bush camp somewhere in the middle of nowhere, literally, and we had all day to get there. The ride had the last day of school feel to it.
The desert floor on the southern side of the mountain is carpeted with golden grass that stretches away as far as the eye can see, blah, blah, blah. Often it was easier to ride through the grass than on the track, because the desert sand under wheel was firmer and more compact. Riding through the grass was like riding through the lyrics of a Sting song, apart from the aardvark holes.
Previously I knew not a lot about aardvarks, other than where to find them in the phone book. I now know that aardvark holes can comfortably accommodate the front wheel of a bicycle. Going over the front of my handlebars was less comfortable, but luckily the ground broke my fall. And thankfully the aardvark I dropped in on unexpectedly wasn’t home at the time. I don’t want any aardvarks playing dead ants with my head. Judging by their holes, they are big and could do some damage when provoked.
I think I also saw a colony of meerkat holes where we camped. I noticed them when I went off into the bush looking for aardvark holes in which to perform my ablutions. I am not a revengeful person, but my tumble over the handlebars hurt like hell.
The bunny huggers out there can relax because no aardvarks we’re traumatized in the writing of this blog, because I never found a hole in time and had to resort to the shovel.
Our campsite for the night was 10 kilometers short of the Messum Crater, literally in the middle of nowhere, with 3 low slung thorn bushes and nothing much else. As soon as the sun started dropping, it threatened to get bitterly cold. I was very excited to finally deploy my thermal Long John’s.
Mark Johnson was less excited to deploy his, mostly because he couldn’t find them in amongst the kitchen sink, etcetera, etcetera. Jono’s kitbag is huge and full of stuff he’ll never find. Because I am a kind and caring person and also because I am precariously perched on 3 Dick of the Day nominations, I rented him my thermal Long John’s in return for his loyalty come Dick of the Day voting through to Swakopmund. He should’ve also thought about renting my raincoat.
Because it never rains in the desert, Jonno decided not to deploy his tent, opting for a stretcher under the stars instead. Predictably, it rained.
Jono woke up at 02.00 feeling cold, wet and far from home. He sat feeling very sorry for himself and ate a comfort bar of chocolate before falling back to sleep asleep again. Jono is missing his family badly. He recently missed out on grandson Oliver’s first steps.
Jono left his home in Australia 4 months ago to paddle the Crocodile Tour and then to ride the Skeleton Coast Tour to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners.
I’d like to pay special tribute to Jono and our other Anzac team mates, Howard Thompson, Al Crundall and Pete Brodie. They have travelled across the world at huge personal expense to push their bodies beyond the limit, day in, day out, to help the people who built the country they once called home, when now have nothing because of two decades of economic idiocy. Alas.