March 03 2024 – Day Two and Three of the Old Legs Tour of New Zealand from Ahipara to Opononi and then to Dargaville.

Day 2 stats
Distance – 88 km
Time- 7.15 hrs
Climb – 1131 meters.
Average heart rate -122 bpm
Highest heart rate- 173 bpm
Day Three stats
Distance – 89 km
Time- 7.51 hrs
Climb – 1407 meters.
Average heart rate -119bpm
Highest heart rate- 164 bpm
I’ve never met a proctologist, but already I feel sorry for them. I’ve just taken a contorted selfie of my wounded bottom to carry out damage assessment but I was forced to hurriedly delete it. I do not photograph well. Alas, I am riding New Zealand with a wounded bottom and also a wounded knee. My knee is wounded because I’m sitting all cockeye on my saddle in an effort to avoid aggravating my wounded bottom which hurts like buggery.
I am a veteran of many sore arses, but have never had to contend with open wounds. With 26 days in the saddle still in front of me, I’ve had to go hard and aggressive with my treatment strategies.
For my sore knee, I’m going with maximum permitted dosages of ibuprofen. For my bottom, I’m going with a shotgun approach -pawpaw ointment as prescribed by Rob Clarke, he’s an agronomist and an ex-Plumtree boy, -with Manuka honey as prescribed by Jenny, -and with a double dose of Lycra padding with a sanitary towel topping, securely fastened with sticking plasters as prescribed by me. With hindsight, the sticking plasters were a bad mistake. I also worry about the honey attracting bees.
But I digress. This is supposed to be a blog about cycling the length of New Zealand to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners.
On a bike the 180 kilometers from Ahipara to Opononi to Dargaville was stunning, like Nyanga and the Chimanimani on steroids. We rode through large parts of the New Zealand I was expecting, pretty like a picture on box of dairy milk chocolates, complete with cows and sheep frolicking in deep, soft green pastures next to babbling brooks, blah, blah, blah.
We also rode through huge swathes of native forest, rugged and full of Jurassic tree ferns and towering Manuka trees and the massively ancient Kahuri trees including Tāne Mahuta, 2000 years old and still going strong.
Mostly we rode through empty countryside, but every now and then we’d bumped into these funny quaint charming friendly little villages straight out of a James Herriot time warp. Never in my life have I had teenagers chase me down on bicycles to say hallo and to offer me slices of free and delicious watermelon. Thank you Jonathan, Jessie and Hannah.
But mostly the ride was all about the hills. New Zealand hills are harsh and full of teeth, never- ending brutal reminders that I haven’t spent nearly enough hours in the saddle hurting, training for them. But the views from up top, mostly of more hills to come, are breathtaking and worth it. Wow is a word spoken often in New Zealand.
The descents were even far much more glorious, especially out of the Waipoua Kauri Forest. Normally I am slower down hills than I am up them, but even I clocked 57 kph dropping out of the forest. Howard topped the speed rankings at 73 kph.
Almost as fast was the headwind on Day 2. It was brutal and in our face from late morning on. New Zealand is a great place to fly kites.
And I can’t not mention the sun. New Zealand has been way hotter than expected. You’d think 23 degrees Celsius in New Zealand is the same as 23 degrees C in Zimbabwe, but it is not. My face, my lips and the back of my hands are feeling fully fritzed, like they’ve been in a microwave set on high. I think it is all to do with holes in the ozone layer above NZ.
In closing, I am sorry to report that Kiwi birds in New Zealand are more endangered by one today. I saw my first Kiwi bird on the road, squashed by a car. He was a magnificent specimen.
I also saw a murderous Magpie. He was swooping on my head at the time and almost made me crash. He was also a magnificent brute.
If you think swooping Magpies sound terrifying, we have 3500 meters of climbing and 2 more days of hard riding in front of us before we hit Auckland for our first rest day. Wish us luck. We are riding to raise money for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. A big shout out to everyone who has donated thus far to Mark Johnson’s GoFundMe page, including Doctor Gemma who we met on the road and who bumped Jonno up over the $12000 raised barrier.
Please help Mark help others by sharing and / or following his
GoFundMe link –
Until my next blog, remember to lather your bottom with Manuka honey and Pawpaw ointment. Have Fun, Do Good and Do Epic if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

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