ERIC DE JONG- AND HIS TRIPLE LAYERED SECRET
A wonderful and witty blog from Eric de Jong who did the BLUE CROSS 2017, by bicycle, with his wife Jenny and granddaughter Jocelyn as backup! ENJOY!!
:) Jocelyn, in many ways, is our little mascot and hopes for the future of the SPCA BLUE CROSS ADVENTURE!
Blue Cross 2018 -log entry 1. (sic). Day one was a not so gentle 50 km warm ride from the middle of nowhere through communal land to Chilo. Marco, the proud owner of brand new cletes, spent the first 20 km practicing falling off his bike. We got into Camp, set up in the river bed at the lowest point in Zimbabwe, just as the sun was going down. This was a snag, as I had packed the car alphabetically but couldn't remember whether I'd packed torches, headlights or lanterns. Our general state of disorganization took a marked turn for the worse when we discovered that our tent was filed under T, in the store room at home. Nonplussed by this sorry state affairs and properly scared of my wife's right hook, I fashioned a one man, one women and a granddaughter bivouac out of our fly sheet, the only piece of camping equipment I had remembered. Jocelyn constructed anti elephant defense systems at both ends of bivouac, out of string, wire and a bag of oranges. We had the best Braai dinner in the river bed and carbo loaded on too many beers. I got up to check that the anti-elephant defense systems were intact and working at 12 mid night, 2.00 a.m. and 03.15 a.m. enroute to the men's bush.
Blue Cross 2018 -log entry 2. Lying here at the end of an epically long day completely knackered I have just remembered it is in fact still 2017. Am chuffed because I Feel like God has given me an extra year, which is a bonus. Woke up to be told that there were elephants in the river bed last night. Jocelyn's anti pachyderm defense system worked. We were the last riders out of camp, mostly because we are beyond anally organized. I've filed stuff alphabetically but Marco is operating on the Dewi decimal system. He has bags of dietary supplements that contain vitamins not yet known to mankind. We only arrived at the middle of nowhere to start today's 100 km ride fashionably late at 10.30. Marco refreshed his falling off his bike skills in the first river bed we got to. Thereafter the ride was a long hot slog, up 43 million hills, including the infamous Barbara, 20 kilometers of sheer mountain named after Lance Armstrong's Mother in Law, after she rat finked on Lance for failing his urine test. We got to the top of Barbara just as it got to dark, pushed through to Fiddler's Green in Chipinge for more carbo loading, good food and war stories. Tomorrow we push on another 100 odd kilometres to Chimanimani where there are apparently more bloody uphill bits and where we will again camp, again sans our tent. Wish me and my bottom luck, - mostly from Jenny's right hook.
Blue Cross 2017 - log entry 3. Just 05.00, still pitch black and kitchen staff already busy at work. Think maybe we're that far east, we blundered into another time zone. Or maybe we're that high up, water takes longer to boil. Or it's almost time to take to the hills again. Alas. The effects of Jocelyn's anti pachyderm defense lingers because again no elephants in camp last night. But it didn't work too good against hippos though.
Blue Cross 2017 - log entry 4. Today was tough. Spent 9 hours and 94 kilometers in the saddle worrying about whether CIMAS will pay for my buttock transplant. And I also worry that my new buttocks, if ever I get them will also be skinny without adequate padding. I'm not the only grumpy pants. By the time we finish, Marco will look like a Hannibal Lecter victim I.e. zero skin. He is now of the firm opinion that cleats will not catch on. And my brand new bright yellow purpose bought GPS has lost what little respect it had for me and spent all day today helpfully pointing out that based on my pathetic average speed, it was left with no option but to push back my estimated time of arrival at destination Chimanimani to next Thursday, if I was bloody lucky. All very depressing. Apart from riding with Jocelyn on her pink bike through some stunning for ever mountain views. (This is absolute must do for all Grandfathers.) And then there was the white knuckle, take your breath away twenty kilometre high speed descent down into Chimanimani. Followed by a proper feel good complete with a modicum of pride when eventually my sore bottom and I limped in to town just before sunset. More of the same tomorrow when we hump 80 kilos over the iconic Tank's Neck. Please wish my sore bottom and I continued luck.
Blue Cross 2017 - log entry 5. Marco is up and getting ready, determined to not be the last on the road today. My bottom however has threatened mutiny and won't get out of bed. Will get up just now and shave. Apparently that might make me go faster. Know for certain that we will bump into children all day long who will take perverse pleasure out of asking obviously near-to-death cyclist, how he is and what his name is. Most probably they need the name for the death certificate. Unless they just practicing their best English.
Blue Cross 2017- log entry 6. Have just invented double padding
Blue Cross 2017- log entry 7. Marco fell of his bike at exactly 9 o'clock, right in front of me. Luckily the ground broke his fall. After he got up we pushed up to the top of Tank's Neck. Double padding worked a treat. Half way up though my bottom and I turned our concerns from it to global warming. By then the temperature around my man bits, all snug within in the double padding, had soared to 167 degrees centigrade. Alas. When we got to the summit, we noticed we another summit. And then another. And then yet another. 1000 meters on we finally got to the true summit, saw the world and it was amazing and then we promptly got back on our bikes and descended 1500 meters in 30 kms and 10 minutes. Which afterwards seems a bit silly and a waste of time but at the time was epic.
Blue Cross 2017 - log entry 8. Tank's Neck was possibly best day on a bike ever, made more enjoyable by riding with Kylie Wright. Riding a mountain with Kylie is like Christmas morning with a six year old, all oohs and wows. Her enthusiasm was infectious.
Blue Cross 2017- log entry 9. We are all camping the night on the old bridge on the Umvumvumvu River. Apart from Kylie who never noticed 20 odd cars and 47 tents complete with campers and pushed on in the general direction of Mutare, causing panic and mayhem. Silly girl.
Blue Cross 2017 - log entry 10. Midnight was 10 minutes ago and my eyes are big like a bush baby, courtesy of a sugar rush from my last bag of go faster turbo energy stuff with caffeine and a 150% sugar content which has just kicked in fashionably eight hours late. I now worry that I might fail tomorrows urine test. I think the Port we were forced to resort to, to ward off any cold before it threatened might have contributed. Andy Ferreira who is seconding for son Andrew Luke is worried about his right foot. Essential for both accelerating and braking, it started cramping up on him earlier. But he is a soldier and said he will try push on through the pain barrier. I think Andy is trying to take after Andrew Luke who has a build almost as big as his heart but nowhere near as big as his determination to hump said build after the largest mountains. As I lie trying to fall back asleep against backdrop sounds of the hippos that have followed camp and running waters below, my bottom is strongly suggesting I bin mountain biking in favour of badminton.
Blue Cross 2017- log entry 11. We have a tent. Andy Louw Evans a survivor from the 2016 edition drove from Harare to deliver it. I am hoping this resourcefulness on my part will be taken in mitigation and reduce the size of my fine for forgetting the tent in the first place.
Blue X 2017 -log entry 12. I was touched first up this morning when I found a personalized concise message penned in Alastair's fair hand, instructing me to not shit on the toilet roll holder, a cruel reference to my near death experience on Barbara in the 2015 edition.
Blue X 2017 - log entry 13. Have taken innovation to another level with triple padding. I am now taller when I sit that when I stand and am struggling to reach my pedals. But think I might have cut off the blood supply to my lower limbs, haven't felt my toes since early this morning and now worry about the onset of gangrene. But I haven't felt my bottom either so viva triple padding
Blue X 2017 - log entry 14. In search of enhanced performance have opted to go with pink racing socks. But so far they not working so good. Spent first 6km of the ride in search of non existent lower gears. Spent the next 20 kms laughing at Team Kadoma's Marco description. They came round a corner in time to catch one of Marco's involuntary dismounts. They said he dropped like a shot giraffe. Clearly Kylie has been paying close attention to Marco's dismount techniques and has twice this morning also dropped.
Blue X 2017 - log entry 15. Today was harsh. 91 kms from Mutambara through to Mutare. It was a new route for me. Having failed geography I had only the vaguest picture in my head of a gentle undulating track with a few bubbling streams and lots of quaint stuff. It will be a nice ride I told Marco, sort of like a rest day. Well bollocks to that, 50 kilos or more of the track was through soft tyre grabbing sands that turned 10 kilos into 20 . And then there were the hills!!! Millions of them. Total climb was 1900 meters. Almost double Tank's Neck!! Apparently the scenery was spectacular but I struggled to notice, especially in 2nd half. Even the seconds struggled on the roughest of roads. Andy Ferreira excelled, especially at pool. We riders limped into a business centre in granny gear and found Andy F embroiled in a winner take all pool challenge match. It was a black ball game that went to the wire. Andy F won 9 Fanta Oranges!!! At least that is what he told me but think beers were involved because just after that Andy Louw Evans put his Land Cruiser into the deepest of culverts. We eventually got into our base camp for the night at Smallbridge Dam 19.00. Laurie and Fiona have donated their bedroom to us complete with 5 beds so we are ‘styling’. Again Ant and Kath and Laurie, Fi and Al have excelled in gastronomic front. I have ducked off to try and sweat out a flu bug that attacked me mid ride today. It is decimating our ranks but Marco has fed me a gazillion drugs and we'll see how we go tomorrow. I am too scared to look at the track but apparently it is 105 kms with the largest climbs to date. Wish us luck.
Blue Cross 2017 - final log entry. Last day was a 95 km slog from Penhalonga to the mountain. The dreaded flu bug has hitched a ride with me in my chest. David Whitehead has developed a hacking cough deep in his chest worthy of a two pack a day smoker. But that hasn't stopped him from scampering up hills like goat. It is easily his most annoying trait and I'm going to puncture his back wheel, if ever I catch up to him that is. I really struggled up the hills into Juliasdale and my legs and chest now lead the campaign to switch sporting codes from bikes to badminton. My bottom has longed been numbed into submission. Marco and Kylie were absolute Trojans to the end and if anything got stronger. Also damn annoying. Marco almost put his trademark horizontal dismount techniques on display for all to see as he struggled to uncleat at the finish. The effort the SPCA folk put into the finish is as amazing as the ride itself with cheering crowds and checkered flags, bars, hot food and bunting. It is all pretty emotional. But my legs, bottom, chest and I urge to committee to think about moving Zimbabwe's highest point a lot closer to the lowest.
SPCA MUTARE ADDENDUM:
ERIC, SADLY NO CAN DO. The Mountain cannot move to MOHenya. AND we are having too much fun reading your blogs! Why would we want to miss next year’s? Please make sure Marco comes too. His skills will be sorely missed if he is left behind. And let us know if Jenny has been working on that right hook…..best pack the tent NOW!
Jocelyn helping Granddad to the end
Kylie, who was a cheerful and charming cycling mate for the team, AND she won most funds raised.
Marco, whose cletes were devastatingly unco-operative, but he never gave up.