With hyperinflation back for the second time in ten years, the needs of the pensioners in Zimbabwe are greater than ever. The generations that built our country have been left with nothing and will not survive without charity. We, therefore, created a platform for Zimbabweans around the world to reach out to these old folks. Some participate in the annual Old Legs Tour in which they cycle long, demanding, distances to raise money awareness for Zimbabwean pensioners.
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Every year since 2018, a group of middle-aged to ‘bloody old’ bicycle riders from around the world unite in Harare for the Old Legs Tour, in which they ride their mountain bikes to somewhere far away, and normally over more than a few inconveniently large hills and mountains, to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s beleaguered pensioners.
2020 SA Lockdown Tour
Covid-19 lockdown restrictions prevented Zimbabweans living in South Africa from joining the Zimbabwe 2020 Lockdown Tour so, on 2 November 2020, six participants, under the umbrella of Zimbabwe’s Old Legs Tour, embarked on their own charity ride, taking on some taxing trails in aid of Zimbabwe pensioners in need.
2020 Zim Lockdown Tour
Because of the Covid-19 crisis, many of our donors in Europe and the UK who would normally help, could not. Thus, not having the luxury of simply popping our fund-raising adventures on the shelf for a year, we had to act now – sooner rather than later. So, instead of riding to Namibia in 2020, the Old Legs Tour embarked on an even tougher adventure, which was called the Lockdown Tour.
On 14 July 2020, five pairs of Old Legs cyclists, resident in Zimbabwe, cycled out of Harare and up to Mt Nyangani, Zimbabwe’s highest point. On to the Zambezi Valley, one of the world’s last remaining wild frontiers, and mindful of not being eaten or stood upon by lions, buffalos, elephants and crocodiles, we followed the Zambezi River west through the Mana Pools National Park. This is a timeless wilderness area and rated one of Africa’s best. It also features dinosaur footprints in the Chewore National Park, and fossilised forests in the Dande, as well as Zimbabwe’s largest concentration of baobabs north of Kotwa. We reached Nyamoumba Camp at the start of Kariba Gorge, and then rode up the Zambezi escarpment to Marangora and Makuti – then back down it again to Lake Kariba.
Across the lake we rode along the shoreline of the Mutusadona National Park from Changa to Bumi Hills with the Mutusadona Mountains towering high above us. From Bumi Hills, we headed south towards Gokwe into Zimbabwe’s remote hinterland, where we, once again, slogged up the Zambezi escarpment, and camped on the edge of the Mucheni Gorge in the Chizarira National Park so we could stare down upon eagles in flight, and out across the vast plains of Africa that stretched out below. Unspoilt, as far as the eye could see. Then we cycled back down the ‘bloody’ escarpment – and on to Victoria Falls.
Vic Falls was a rest day, so we had the time to take in the world’s largest waterfall in all her splendour, flowing at her highest peak in almost a hundred years. We then rode to Kazungula where four countries meet – Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. On south, through deep Kalahari sands to the remote wilds of the Kazuma Pan and through the Hwange National Park – again being mindful of not being eaten or stood upon by Africa’s Big Five and friends. South to Bulawayo and through the historical and massive granite edifices of the Matopos to the Tuli Circle and then east along Kipling’s great, grey-green, greasy Limpopo River to the wild and remote Gonarezhou National Park.
In Gonarezhou we rode beneath the towering, iconic red sandstone Chilojo Cliffs and on to Zimbabwe’s lowest point, where the Save and Runde rivers meet. This is the start of the Blue Cross, Zimbabwe’s foremost endurance event. We slogged 500 kms uphill – up the Eastern Highlands, over the Chimanimani Mountains and up through the Vumba Mists, ending back where we started at Mt Nyangani, Zimbabwe’s highest point.
On 1 June 2019, a group of 10 middle-aged to elderly mountain-bike riders rode out of Harare and headed north in the general direction of Mt Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest, free-standing mountain, and Africa’s highest peak. Where possible, they rode on the roads less travelled, through places such as Mt Darwin and Mukumbura, up towards Caborra Bassa, on to Tete and into Malawi. Heading north, they hugged the shores of Lake Malawi through places such as Nkhata Bay and Livingstonia. Once into southern Tanzania they rode through Tukuyu, over the Elton Plateau and through the Kitulo National Park, gaining an impressive 7,444 meters in merely 263 kilometres. They headed north to Iringa, Dodoma and Arusha, and eventually ended up at the bottom of the pointy mountain also known as Mt Kilimanjaro.
The crew included: Eric de Jong, Jenny de Jong, Adam Selby, Linda Selby, Al Watermeyer, Alan Rheeder, Caroljoy Church, Dave Whitehead, Hans Steenberghe, Jaap Van Staaveren, Mark Johnson, Nik Bellwald, Ryan Moss, Bill Annandale, John MacDonald and Renier Pronk.
Our inaugural tour was from Harare to Cape Town, via Botswana. The crew included Eric de Jong, Jenny de Jong, Ryan Moss, Bruce Fivaz, Dave Whitehead, Neil Leachman and Al Watermeyer.
- 3 168 kms – the distance we rode.
- 252 – the number of hours spent in the saddle.
- 242 years – the combined ages of the riding group.
- 72 years – Bruce Fivaz’s age. Bruce is a national treasure – hanging out with ‘Badger’ on his push bike has been our best thing ever.
- 1 800 – the number of Zimbabwean pensioners supported by ZANE, BHN and Pensioners’ Aid. Without this help, the pensioners would starve.
- 2 600 – the number of young lives changed through ZANE’s club foot correction programme.
- 7 8000 – the dollars we raised.
- 0 000 – The last stand out number is the bunch of zeroes that most Zimbabwean pensioners have been left with after a lifetime of hard work, and thirty-eight years of ruinous Mugabe economics.