05 June 2023 – Day Ten of the Old Legs Zanzibar Tour – From Lichinga Mozambique to Metangula also in Mozambique.

05 June 2023 – Day Ten of the Old Legs Zanzibar Tour – From Lichinga Mozambique to Metangula also in Mozambique.

Distance – 128 kilometers
Total ascent – 1176 meters.
Total descent – 2021 meters.
Time – 9 hours 17 minutes
Av heart rate – 119 bpm
Max heart rate – 179 bpm
Max temp – 32 degrees.

This blog is coming to you from the Sunset Beach Resort, Metangula, Mozambique. I am sitting under a coconut palm next to a mukwa tree a.k.a. Pterocarpus Angolensis completely knackered. I got ripped off today. It was supposed to be a big down hill day but somehow I still climbed 1200 meters.

Should the name Sunset Beach Resort evoke images of a romantic beach resort complete with girls in leopard skin bikinis, please delete. In the real world, somewhere between now and 50 years ago when the Portuguese left, the resort got bashed down and buggered up and it now looks like a Ukrainian war zone. But in my current condition, an extra rest day in the ruins of the Sunset Beach Resort sure beats a day spent in the saddle.

And in fairness to the Sunset Beach Resort proprietors, they’ve been flat out busy renovating and rebuilding for possibly 50 years, and have so far rebuilt 4 rooms out of 11 rooms, sort of. The plumbing in our room remains work in progress with the discharge pipe on our basin discharging on your feet. The toilet is likewise dodgy and is best sat upon gingerly and hot water is a myth. But for the rest, it is all good. The lake is beautiful with crystal clear waters, and we’ve just enjoyed delicious barbel and chips for lunch. Because the lake has a sandy bottom, barbel in these parts is clean eating with no muddy taste. My bottom especially loves Sunset Beach.

Somehow and against all odds, we managed to overshoot our daily targets for the last 3 days, and we’ve ended up in Metangula a full day ahead of schedule. Which could explain why I am so knackered. Although the 1200 meters of climb on a big downhill day could be another reason. But it is nothing that an extra rest day on the shores of Lake Niassa can’t fix.

The vastness that is the Niassa Province continues. Finally we are riding on roads properly less travelled. This country is huge by car, beyond massive by bike, especially my bike.

There is some traffic on the roads. We had to take evasive action just outside Lichinga to avoid being run over by motorcade full of very important government officials rushing off to govern somewhere, their cavalcade of 200 series Landcruisers only slightly at odds with the poverty they were rushing through.

The countryside today was exactly Nyanga, just on a bigger scale. There is commercial forrestry, mostly pine with some eucalyptus, and we encountered our first significant indigenous forests. Up to now, the only indigenous trees we’ve seen are those growing in the cemeteries where they are safe from the ravages of the bloody charcoal producers.

The downhill descent to reach Metangula was hectic. Rafe and Clem enjoyed like kids on a BMX track and clocked 62 and 64 kph respectively. I can only watch Clem’s GoPro video footage of his descent through my fingers.

Rafe Wetzlar is easily the strongest rider we’ve had on Tour, bar possibly Carl Wilson, who had an unfair advantage because he ate vegetables only.

For every 100 kilometers I’ve pedalled, Rafe has pedalled 160. A sheepdog in a previous life, Rafe patrols the peloton endlessly, front and back, looking for strugglers to help. Rafe likes helping people. I think I am going to ask him to put my bike in his backpack.

Rafe weighed in at 105 kilograms at the start and is a big unit, but I’m watching his body shape change every day and he is almost lean and mean.

He might be a strong rider but Rafe has no idea how to pronounce Ralph, which is what his first name actually is.

10 days into the Tour and we are slowly slipping into some sort of a routine, with the emphasis on slow. Over and above riding bikes all day, cyclists are required to perform certain camp duties, like digging toilets, washing pots and peeling vegetables.

Pete and I are Team Three and tackle each and every task with great gusto and enthusiasm, unlike certain other teams who shall remain nameless, like Teams One, Two and Four.
But with Al Watermeyer in the ranks, the toilet digging task becomes extra daunting and we are thinking about lobbying our rider’s union about being allowed to force feed Al Imodium with his evening meal.

Gary has enjoyed malaria for the last 3 days, but thanks to Coartem has been able to remain behind the cameras. Please appreciate and enjoy his beautiful photography that much more.

Tomorrow we take epic to the next level when we push onto to Cobue, which is halfway up the lake and 100 km from Metangula for our second official rest day. But that 100 km is set to seem like 200 km because of thick sand on the road. To avoid the sand, the riders will route along a track on the lakeshore unsupported, until we run out of track, whence upon we will climb the escarpment, most probably on foot because the gradients look to be stupidly steep.

The vehicles will follow the main road to Cobue. Apparently, the road has been trashed by Cyclone Freddy and the 100 km could take the vehicles the best part of 5 hours. Those riders nursing wounds or recovering from the Clem virus, will suffer FOMO in the support vehicles. We are expecting no cellphone signal so will communicate using our Garmin InReaches. It is all jolly exciting. Wish us luck.

Please also wish Zimbabwe luck as we continue our inexorable slide back into hyperinflation, back to being millionaires and billionaires. When we left Zim 10 days ago, the official exchange rate was 2000 to 1 and the black rate was nearly double that. of Just 10 days later, the official rate has ballooned out to 4000. Cry the beloved country, especially the poor pensioners who live there.

We are riding to Zanzibar to raise money and awareness for those pensioners. Please help us help them by following the donate prompts on www.oldlegstour.com.

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

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