June 12, 2023 – Day 17 of the Old Legs Zanzibar Tour – from a bush camp in Tanzania to Songea, also in Tanzania.

Distance – 105 kilometers
Time – 8 hours 27 minutes
Total ascent – 1218 m
Av heart rate – 130 bpm
Max heart rate – 183 bpm.

You know when you’ve arrived in Tanzania from Mozambique because straight away God gives you a whole extra hour for free, or he takes it away, I can’t remember which. And all because Tanzania runs on East Africa Time while Mozambique, also on the east coast of Africa, runs on Central African Time.

It is all very confusing, not just for me but also for the sun itself. In Tanzania the sun is very slow to get out of bed in the morning and only rises at 06.30. Which means we get to start riding when it is still almost dark. Which is what we used to do in Mozambique anyway, so I don’t get the point.

Tanzania is also more in your face affluent than Mozambique. They don’t do scraggly huts with see-through thatching, and aspire to complex and incredibly steeply pitched corrugated iron roofs instead. And all the houses are strictly numbered, I think for tax purposes. People in Tanzania use their roofs as status symbols, and the steeper and more complex the better.

I think the steep roofs are a hand-me-down from the German colonial days and are specially designed to minimize snow build up. We saw zero snow so they clearly do the job.

The motorbikes in Tanzania are also more pimped up. And l hardly anyone transports cargo by bicycle. And Tanzania is peaceful with Muslims and Christians living alongside each other no problem, even though the Muslim mullah guy wakes everyone up twice before it gets light. I think if I was a poor Mozambican, I would sneak into Tanzania on a dinghy.

We were met at the Tanzanian border by Ryan Wienand. Ryan and his wife Lise have adopted the Old Legs Tour as a cause, and will help us all the way through to Zanzibar.

Without Ryan’s help, we would most probably still be stuck at the border waiting on Pete Brodie to clear. NB If there is going to be a hold up at an African border post, you can bet an Australian will be at the bottom of it. I think it is because they look so smug after winning the World Cup for test cricket. NB That is the first bit of world news I have heard since leaving Harare.

Ryan camped with us on our first night and scooped the Tall Green Hero’s Hat for his efforts and despite Vicky Bowen nominating him for Dick of the Day. Vicky ended up in pink instead for her efforts.

Ryan also organized lots of hills for us on our first day of riding in Tanzania, some of which he said would be fun. Halfway up the very steepest one, I thought Vicky might have had a point about Ryan being D.O.D.

We climbed non-stop all day. Apart from a few 15% gradient shockers towards lunchtime, Ryan’s fun climbs, it was just a slow and steady up hill grind, unless you were riding a green bike. I can confirm that green bikes are far much faster than blue bikes and silver bikes. I fairly flew up the hills on my borrowed Scott spare bike, mostly because my bottom was in such a hurry to get off the skinny-arsed racing saddle.

We rode into the crazy busy town of Songea. It is a riot of colour and a cacophony of street noise with blaring street music and tuk-tuks honking hooters as they take non-existent gaps in wall-to- wall traffic. It was very cool to get caught up in all of that.

We have decided to swap out our rest day in 4 days time for an extra day in Songea to get re-organized, which is not to say we were ever organized in the first place. We all came out of the Niassa Province rather stinky and badly in need of some laundry, ditto the support vehicles, especially the Isuzu that Vicky turned into a guacamole storage unit.

Which means we have 8 days of riding in front of us before our next rest day, by which time we will all be stinky again. We will ride east towards the coast and then cut inland towards the Selous Game Reserve where tsetse flies and other animals live.

We are riding to Zanzibar to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. The generation that built our country have been left with nothing after 30 years of ongoing economic stupid. I received an appeal yesterday from an elderly lady who was rushed to hospital with a severe chest infection and needed assisted breathing following.

Because government hospitals in Zimbabwe don’t work, her ambulance driver rushed her to a swanky private hospital. NB I wouldn’t be surprised if the swanky hospital doesn’t give the ambulance drivers a kick back. Alas. Her entire life savings totaling £5000 have been wiped out as in obliterated by a 5 day stay in the hospital’s ICU, leaving her penniless and still sick.

Please help us help her and countless others by following the donate prompts below.

In closing a big shout out to Kai, Harper and Harry from Pops. He misses you guys big time. And much love and hugs from Eric and Nana to Jocelyn, Cailyn, Colton and Teagan.

Until my next blog from out next bush camp +/- 130 km and some hills east of Songea, have fun, do good and do epic – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

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