03 June 2023 – Day Eight of the Old Legs Zanzibar Tour – Mangochi to a football pitch 40 km past Mandimba, Mozambique.

Distance – 96 kilometers
Total ascent – 1467 meters.dwe we p I
Time – 8 hours 14 minutes
Av heart rate – 129 bpm
Max heart rate – 190 bpm
Max temp – 43 degrees a.k.a. as hot as Hades.

I am blogging to you from a football pitch 19 kilometers from the Mozambique town of Massangulo. We attracted a huge audience when we set up camp. At first I worried they might be football hooligans but all good. Entertainment wise, we are as good as it gets in these parts.

Today’s blog has to be all about the escarpment we climbed to get off the Rift Valley floor. I quite like hills, but after the first hour, like becomes dislike. I disliked this particular climb for hours, but already am now remembering it fondly. Sure, we’ve ridden up higher and steeper hills before, but I don’t know if we’ve ridden up longer. The climb was 25 kilometers non-stop, with an av gradient of between 5 and 6 percent.

It was one of those annoying climbs with forever views that are breathtaking on the way up, you make the easy decision to save your photos for the very top, but then when eventually you get to the very top, there are no views.

It was 43 degrees hot according to Angus’s Garmin but God laid on another refreshing head wind to cool us down. This headwind was that strong I enjoyed the summit 3 times.
I saw my first wildlife on Tour on the climb, a troop of baboons. They were magnificent specimens, albeit quite lanky with reaches like gibbons. They were quite habituated and in your face.
I was alerted to the presence of baboons by their droppings in the road, unless the droppings belonged to a bike trucker descending with 3 bags of charcoal on the back of his bike and no brakes. I saw the poor chap hurtling down the mountains at breakneck speeds, using his feet like Fred Flinstone brakes.

We crossed back into Mozambique today. The Malawian border town of Chiponde was crazy busy chaotic. The no man’s land after exiting Malawi was just plain weird, 2 or 3 kilometers on the tattiest dirt road and through a muddy river crossing with zero signage, zero anything, before literally bumping into the Mozambique border post.

After our 8 hour holdup at Nyamapanda, we were dreading Round Two with Mozambique Immigration, but it was easy peasy, 30 minutes and we were all through.
I’ve been dreading this part of Mozambique, expecting the worst but with fingers crossed I’ll be pleasantly surprised. And so far, so good. From what little we’ve seen, the road infrastructure is first class, well constructed and well maintained, far much better than anything we have in Zimbabwe, ditto the cellphone coverage. Alas. I remember not so long ago when we felt sorry for the poor Mozambicans, but now their roadside markets are full of Gucci sandals.

We are able to attract big crowds here, with entire villages lining the roads to cheer us on as we pass. The roadsides in Mozambique are like Dutch corners on the Tour de France. Shame. I feel like we are ripping them off. After 5 hours in the saddle, the Old Legs Tour is not the most riveting of spectator sports.

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

#mountainbike #mtblife #cycling #mountainbiking #downhill #cyclinglife #mtblove #nature

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