May 24, 2023 – The Third World As Seen From The Saddle –

I am about to embark on my 7th Old Legs Tour in 6 years, and I still can’t spell minimalistic. We have started final packing for our Zanzibar Tour, now just 3 days away, and I realize we should’ve started final packing in February. I worry that our trucks aren’t big enough, I worry that we should have gone with more than one trailer, and I especially worry that I don’t own enough underwear. NB It doesn’t help that I have to sneak pack in the dead of the night. If Wallace sees me packing for a long trip away, for sure he will bite me.

Minimalistic is a tough gig when you grew up a Boy Scout with the words ‘Be Prepared’ writ large on your woggle. Make that writ large on two woggles. I had a spare woggle for just in case.

I really tried hard to ruthless like Bear Grylls when packing for Zanzibar. I’m away for 30 days but have rest days complete with laundry service every 7th day, so max underpants required 6 pairs. But because I’ll be on the bike for 10 hours per day, riding commando, or hangbal as Rob Fisher would have it, I was able to hack 6 pairs down to just 3 pairs. But then I remembered Pete Brodie is on Tour and will most probably leave his underpants on the wash line in Vic Falls, even though we don’t go anywhere near Vic Falls, so I packed 3 spare pairs for him. But then what about spare pairs for just in case we bump into elephants and leopards in the Niassa, plus another spare pair also for me in case Jenny has her way with prunes in the ride snacks, and suddenly I have to rush out to buy more underpants, but very loose-fitting ones, because my tummy still hurts from my hernia operation five weeks ago.

I might not be able to spell minimalistic, but I do know how to spell retinectomy. As part of my rigorous self-improvement program, I had a retinectomy 10 days ago in South Africa. Well mostly I had one because my clumsy bastard retina was wanting to fall off again, for the fourth time since 2020.

Previously, I enjoyed maybe 10% vision in my bad eye. When I held up fingers in front of me, I had to guess how many. Enter my very clever and hugely talented eye surgeon. Unfortunately, I can’t spell opthamologist. Before he stuck my clumsy bastard retina back on, my eye surgeon cut away the bottom bit which was all buggered and dented from the previous surgeries, panelbeated it and then spot-welded back on, but not before changing the oil. My eye surgeon could get a job in a workshop no problem.

When the bandages came off, I was excited like a kid on Christmas Day. I’m guessing I now have maybe 25% vision in my bad eye and am walking around with my good eye closed, looking at stuff with my bad eye. The difference between almost bugger all and 25% is huge.

My retina is now firmly stuck in position and not going anywhere in a hurry, especially after another two hours of laser. NB Laser is the absolute worst. An hour session of laser drags on all day, it is like binge- watching Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader Episodes Four through to Six play out inside your eyeball, but with the lightsabres amped up to max. Oh, what fun. I would rather be poked in the eye with a blunt stick.

I’m afraid I still know how to spell myopic. My post-op excitement about the 25% has been slightly muted by the one type of eyedrop which dilate my pupil to the point where the pupil is bigger than my eyeball. True story. I make owls look beady eyed by comparison. The excess light feels like I have an interrogation lamp strapped to my forehead, I am back to seeing nearly bugger all, and I have a compulsion to tell truth. Thankfully, I took the last of those drops on Monday.

I remain on 5 other eyedrops, to be taken between 2 and 4 times daily, one of which is steroid based which I am hoping will translate into an unfair advantage when eventually I get back on the bike, hopefully on or before Saturday the 27th of May, which is when we start pedalling in the general direction of Zanzibar.

Unable to pick up anything heavy because of the hernia, and still blind like bat courtesy of a dilated pupil, I have resorted to training on the couch in front of the television watching the Giro D’Italia. I think my training is paying off. I watched Stage 16 from start to finish, 203 kilometres and 6264 meters of climb, and wasn’t even tired at the end. After 2 weeks of the Giro, I now have multiple heroes and hope Geraint Thomas wins, and also Primoz Roglic, and also Ben Healy even though he doesn’t stand a chance, and also Remco Evenepoel, even though he went out in week 1 with Covid.

But even more exciting than the Giro, is an Old Legs team converging on Harare from the world over- Kim from the Caribbean, Hanny from Holland, Pete from Australia, Brian, Zack and George from South Africa, Cedric from Nairobi, Gary from Bulawayo, and Al Watermeyer from Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa, all in the last 10 days. I am exhausted just following Al on his travels.

Please be invited to join us at Isuzu Autoworld Chisipite at 06.30 for 07.00 to wave us fond farewell, or better still, to ride out of town with us. NB Bacon and egg rolls will be available at the 50 km peg. Big thank you to Oscar Bekker and the Revelo Bike Barn, which is correctly spelled with a squiggly apostrophe thing above the second e.

We are riding 3000 kilometres to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. Please follow the donate prompts below. And you’ll be able to follow us live thanks to Ezytrack on but be warned, we will ride slow like paint dries, especially me.

Until my next blog from Mutoko, Have Fun, Do Good and Do Epic if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

online please use the following link –

Thank you for your support. It will be used to save and change lives. God bless.

The Old Legs Zanzibar Team – a.k.a. Al Watermeyer, Zack Patinois, Pete Brodie, Rafe Wetzlar, Angus and Rowena Melrose, Clem Henon, Cedric Breda, Kim Parker, Eric and Jenny de Jong, Hanny Swart, Brian Goodman, Vicky Bowen, Gary de Jong and George Lockhart.

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