The Old Legs Tour of New Zealand – from Murchison to Greymouth.

Day 20 stats
Distance – 136 km
Time – 9 hrs 25 min
Climb – 1344 meters.
Average heart rate -130 bpm
Highest heart rate- 184 bpm
Day 21 stats
Distance – 131 km
Time – 9 hrs 16 min
Climb – 1300 meters.
Average heart rate -135 bpm
Highest heart rate- 182 bpm
Day 22 stats
Distance – 80 km
Time – 4 hrs 33 min
Climb – 484 meters.
Average heart rate -143 bpm
Highest heart rate- 180 bpm
This blog is coming to you from the small seaside town of Greymouth. Somehow after climbing 6295 m in the last 4 days, we’ve arrived back at bloody sea level. Seagulls are really starting to annoy.
Yesterday was supposed to be a rest day in the holiday town of Reefton. My bottom and legs were overjoyed , but only briefly. Because Day 26 has loomed large like a dental appointment for a filling, 2 extractions plus root canal since Day 1, we decided to turn our rest day into a half rest day and rode the 80 kilometers into Greymouth.
NB Day 26 was supposed to be 165 kilometers long with 1772 meters of climb, but we figured that would kill some of us namely me stone dead, like a possum. Hence the half rest day.
My sulking bottom and legs aside, the 80 kilometers into Greymouth on the bike was like a holiday. Not so much for Macca. He rode all day with a badly swollen leg. I wished my legs could be a bit more swollen. Macca is a tough guy and rode with his poker face. I’m also envious of that.
In my mind’s eye, I had pictured New Zealand’s South Island to be bleak, like Heathcliff’s Wuthering Heights, but it is take-your-breath-away beautiful. We caught our first glimpse of the Southern Alps cloaked in snow and bathed in warm sunlight.
But best for me were the massive beech forests we rode through for hours on end, sort of like the mopane forests in the Zambezi Valley back home, but taller and with blackened trunks. So far, no flowering Jacarandas or Flamboyants.
The forests are noisy with birdsong. We were lucky to see a South Island Robin, considered an endangered species, when it hopped on to Rob’s handlebars at a bum break and tea stop. Rob’s bum is also sulking. We were less lucky to see South Island sand flies in their droves – tiny, blood sucking insects that sting like a bugger and itch exponentially. They are horrible and can fly faster than my bicycle, but aren’t as horrible as tsetse flies.
Easily the most foreign thing seen on Tour so far for me are the roadside honesty boxes, selling anything and everything – from free range eggs and pony pooh to every fruit and berry in creation. In Zimbabwe the boxes themselves would be stolen and chopped up for firewood, let alone the cash box and stock.
The South Island is empty of people, most probably because of all the uphill bits. It is 4 times larger than the Netherlands but with just 7% of the population, as in 1 million versus 17 million.
The weather has also surprised. It has been beautiful so far. There were girls in bikinis enjoying on the beach at 20 degrees in Greymouth today. But it is set to get colder as we ride south, which isn’t a bad thing. New Zealand mountains would really hurt in African heat, and plus I can’t wait to wear my arctic kit.
The support we continue to receive from Zimbabweans in New Zealand also continues to heart warm. Brothers Johnny and Pete Baldwin, ex-Kadoma, drove 4 hours from Christchurch to have a drink with us in Greymouth. Ditto Falcon old boy Josh Allerdice, who will also ride tomorrow’s leg with us.
We are riding New Zealand to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. Please help us help our pensioners back home by following the donate prompts below-
In New Zealand – .
In Australia –
In South Africa please direct donations to Mdala Trust Standard bank 374230927 Fishhoek 036009 SBZAZAJJ
And every else in the big wide world –
In closing, a big shout to Madison and Emma Clarke from their Pepe. He is missing you guys big lots.
Until my next blog from somewhere further south ,Have Fun, Do Good and Do Epic if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

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