30 May 2023 – Day Four of the Old Legs Zanzibar Tour – Tete to Mwanza. Ouch.

30 May 2023 – Day Four of the Old Legs Zanzibar Tour – Tete to Mwanza. Ouch.

Distance – 129 kilometers
Time – 11 hours 29 minutes
Av heart rate – 135 bpm
Max heart rate – 180 bpm
Av temp – bloody hot.

Touted as the second hardest day on Tour, yesterday was brutal and deserves promotion. But first the good news, we found our tent. Alastair Watermeyer has been sleeping in it. He claims not to have seen the word De Jong written all over the tent bag and the tent itself. He is also claiming squatters rights because he likes our tent. He says it has a better than his tent. I have started legal proceedings to recover 2 days rent and hardship compensation but fear it will be a long and protracted battle.

Tasked with making sure we leave town, we were joined for the ride out of Tete by Brendan and Fraser. We could not have asked for nicer hosts.

Riding out of Tete in amongst rush hour traffic was hectic. Apparently Tete rush hour drags out for hours and hours. It is a very busy town.

The ride out of Tete was like riding through a Mad Max Armageddon movie set with palls of smoke hanging low over crazy bastard gangs of motor-bikers. They mostly ride Chinese 150 c.c. street bikes, using them to ferry passengers or goods, any number of people, or anything, taking non-existent gaps in the traffic, whilst looking cool. Cedric saw 4 live pigs trussed up on one bike.

I tried to swap my bike for a motor bike at the bottom of a hill. It looked to have a very comfortable saddle as compared to my hard-arsed skinny thing. The owner of the motor bike accepted my swap deal immediately and started pushing my bike away. I had to chase after him to cancel the deal. I think he’d worked out that motor bike riders in Tete have the life expectancy of gnats.

The first 50 kilometers to breakfast stop fairly flew along, despite the hills that Alastair said weren’t there being attritional. For the first time on this Tour, I enjoyed the ride, briefly, until I got knackered.

I was able to get some spring back into my step when I was ambushed by a dead Mozambique spitting cobra. Just when I had built up to a decent speed by my standards, Zack called me to attend a summit meeting on the side road, all part of an elaborate ruse to have me bump into
an ex-Mozambique spitting cobra which Alistair had humped on his bike for the last 20 kilometers, waiting for his moment. I didn’t disappoint and screamed like a girl. I screamed like two girls and fled when he threw me with the disgusting serpent.

We hit the bitch of a hill named Grace at 90 kilometers and started the long slow climb up and out of the Zambezi Valley.

The border runs right along side the road for a few kilometers at the top of Grace with Moz one side, and Malawi the other. Brian, Alastair and I hopped across to Malawi for a quick photo and a look see. First impressions, Malawi is very similar to Mozambique.

It was as hot as hell on the road today but thankfully a refreshing head wind blew up to cool us down. You will notice that both head and wind are 4 letter words.

After the Milk of Magnesia catastrophe, I didn’t dare fart all day, not without first deploying the toilet seat and plenty of toilet paper, for just in case. On my last emergency stop in a mealie field I was sure to have confounded some herdboys who snuck up to spy on me from afar by rushing into the mealies to set up my throne and pull my pants down in a hurry just to have a fart.

I would not have made it to Mwanza, but for Alistair and Rafe herding me like a sheep. I think Rafe must have been a sheep dog in a previous life, one of those giant Anatolian shepherds, because he spends the entire ride circling the peloton, from front to back, looking for strugglers and stragglers. On some days he must ride an extra 20%. I think I am going to pay him to tow me to Zanzibar.

Leaving Mozambique is easier than entering, and we cleared the border in minutes. The security guard was kind enough to whip a kid tout with sjambok for showing too much interest in the bikes. Once we’d cleared the border we rode through 3 kilometers of heavily populated no-man’s land, complete with thriving markets thronged with people, and even a police station. It was hectic. But nothing as compared to the Malawian border town of Mwanza.

Mwanza is about the size of Karoi but with maybe 10 times the people on the street. It boasts one decent hotel. Luckily we made bookings 8 weeks earlier. Unluckily, our bookings were cancelled the day before. Jenny and Vicky were tasked with finding alternative accommodation whilst the riders took refuge in a roadside pub waiting for the last 2 vehicles to clear.

Very long story short, Jenny and Vicky pulled rabbits out of the hat and somehow found beds enough for everyone in 2 separate guest lodges, apart from 3 unlucky buggers who had to sleep on mattresses on the floor. Both lodges were charming with loud blaring music , and even a fist fight in the street. Welcome to the warm heart of Africa.

Until my next blog from Balaka, have fun, do good and do epic if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

You might also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept

Privacy & Cookies Policy