March 6 2024 – Day Four and Five of the Old Legs Tour of New Zealand from Dargaville to Mangawhai pronounced with an F, and then on to Auckland also pronounced with an F.

Day 4 stats
Distance – 113 km
Time- 7.15 hrs
Climb – 1131 meters.
Average heart rate -122 bpm
Highest heart rate- 173 bpm
Day 5 stats
Distance – 116 Km
Climb – 1713 meters.
Average heart rate -128 bpm
Highest heart rate- 192 bpm
Top speed – 62 kph
Head wind speed – 462 kph.
First up, thank you for all the concern showered upon my bottom and for all the suggestions on how to fix it. Thanks to Pawpaw ointment and Manuka honey balm, my bottom is much improved, to the point where it was left unmoved by an encounter with a bed of stinging nettles on yesterday’s ride, although exhaustion might also have played a part in the numbness.
Day Five into Auckland was our toughest day yet, with 1700 meters of climb and gale force headwinds and rain. I was able to smash my personal best for highest heart rate for the second time on Tour.
I was dreading riding in the rain but it was actually a relief from the heat. My raincoat is useless and I was wetter on the inside, than the outside. My fingers were wrinkled like I’d been in the bath for a hour. I actually felt quite proud of them. Wrinkly fingers on a bike are a rite of passage in NZ.
I enjoyed my Eureka day yesterday, despite the rain and the wounded bottom. Eureka days are when you realize there is nowhere else in the world you’d rather be than on your bike, and nobody you’d rather be riding your best adventure with. Normally my Eureka days happen later in the Tour, once my niggles have disappeared, but it happened early in New Zealand, testimony to the stress Jenny and I have been under. NB My Eureka day got blown away in the afternoon session by the gale force winds. Head winds suck.
Sore bottoms are clearly contagious. Following the ride in the rain, a dose of severe saddle rash has whistled through the peloton fast like prunes through children, causing much whimpering in the saddle. This would be a good time to buy shares in the company that makes Manuka honey bum balm.
After 5 days, our peloton is starting to take shape.
Howard is the boss and normally out front on the open road, unless he has to herd cats, which is most of the time. Then he has to hang around on corners waiting for slowcoaches clueless as to where to turn. But for herding cats, Howard would finish early every day.
Jonno and Rob can also be found out front. Rob’s legs have no idea he is the heaviest rider in the group. Rob also has an incredible poker face so doesn’t partake in the whimpering. Both Rob and Jonno are especially strong on hills, which is bloody annoying. Neither Rob or Jonno have the route on their headsets so both are prone to blasting off lost in the great unknown when the testosterone sloshes, or when The Bay City Rollers are playing loud in Jonno’s earphones. Thankfully we are riding on an island, so they can’t get too lost. I don’t if the same can be said of our support vehicle. They have taken getting lost to new levels. But I digress, back to the peloton.
Macca is normally the next rider in line. He is a very organized rider and always has the route up on his headset. Macca has also got a good poker face and suffers the hills in silence. He is slow and steady up them like a Lister engine, and down them like runaway train. Macca looks to be getting stronger on the climbs and will no doubt scamper up the Southern Alps come the South Island, which will also be bloody annoying.
I am the designated sweeper in the peloton and ride at the very back, sweeping for strugglers and stragglers, myself included.
Impossibly New Zealand continues prettier and prettier. We’ve pedaled through idyllic countryside straight out of a James Herriot book for the last 2 days, on quiet backroads with green rolling hills as far as the eye can see. The air feels fresh, as was the smell of cowshit .
From what I’ve seen, there are as many cows in New Zealand as there are sheep.
New Zealand are Top Ten in the world in terms of milk production. Economic herds start at 1000 head and are grown on grass and silage only, with no stock feeds. And unlike Jacinda Arden, I love the smell of cow shit. Farms are supposed to smell like cowshit.
The very best thing on Old Legs Tours are Eureka days. Eureka days are when you realize that there is nothing you would rather be doing than riding adventures in your bike, and no-one you would rather be enjoying the adventures with.
Generally my Eureka days happen l in the third week after I’m over my niggles. That it has come about early in New Zealand is testimony to the stress Jenny and I have been under. Riding bikes in beautiful places, belly laughing with best friends is the best medicine.
We are riding to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. The plight of the pensioners back home is hugely heightened when you are riding through a country like New Zealand, where every thing works and where every thing is clean, and where pensioners get paid pensions. Alas. Please help us help them by following the donate prompts on
In closing, please join me in wishing Jenny a very Happy Birthday.
Until my next blog, Have Fun, Do Good and Do Epic if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

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