One of the things we’ve been trying to get going in recent months is a monthly fun ride for locals and expats. Our main crew ride regularly at the weekends, and we’re a small group of, mainly Khmer riders, and the odd expat. Dirt biking has been getting more popular, with the advent of regular off-road events held in Phnom Penh, so we at Kickstart thought it would be cool to share some of the amazing experiences that we have on a day to day basis with the local biking community.
So last Saturday we all gathered at Kickstart HQ to ride the back roads to Beng Melea. It was a good turnout with eight riders in total, including our team. Fred who had just bought himself a KTM 450 EXC was eager to get out and test it in the dirt. Alex, who hadn’t ridden off-road in seven years couldn’t contain his excitement, and he took the CRF. Richard and Thomas, whose off-road experience I believe was only red graded roads, were in for a treat.
After filling up with petrol, we headed out past route 60, and were soon on great sandy single track. There weren’t many trees to contend with so you could get wide open on the throttle. The less experienced, who hadn’t ridden sand before did very well. We soon arrived at the forested areas outside Siem reap, where the trails had turned to a muddy quagmire. We battled through the mud, until we got to a particularly flooded bit of the trail, forcing us to take a detour. It was a little more technical than planned, entailing a couple of steep banks and rickety bamboo bridges to get over the flood water which would have gone up over the air boxes. Alex ended up upside down at one point after putting his foot down to save a stall at the top of the bank, only to find there was no ground. All was well, and we pulled him out and pressed on. We soon arrived at the peaceful jungle temple of Prasat Banteay M’Phul. After rest and re-hydration we continued on through the forest where the trail got muddier by the minute.
Now, there is never a dull moment riding in the wet season. More often than not, the trails will either end up completely flooded, or the farmers will turn the trail into a rice field, forcing us to find alternate routes. Generally this is a good thing as you end up finding new trails you otherwise wouldn't have thought. On this instance we had to do a u-turn after a particularly boggy bit of land. We were south of Kulen Mountain and the roads started to get a bit more technical with loose rocky climbs and slippery tree roots. I was aware that the weaker members of the group were tiring so I had to make a choice whether to press on. I was familiar with this trail, as it joined up with an old track we used to do; the only way down was a steep, technical descent with rocky drop offs and boulders, so I decided to turn the group around and back track a bit, which I don’t really like doing. It’s hard making that call sometimes, because the experienced riders were up for it, but when you have mixed ability riders you have to think of the group. As it was, the trails we’d been on were such fun, no-one cared really, and soon we were at Beng Melea for lunch.
After a several coconuts and some local fare, we were ready to go again. We headed south from Beng Melea, and traversed flooded oxcart tracks, bursting at the seams towards Phnom Brahut, where we cut back North-West to Siem Reap. The terrain was fairly hilly for Cambodia in this area, and we followed mainly red roads back to town that carved through the picturesque Cambodian countryside. In the dry the red roads are very dusty, but this time of year with a bit of rain can be quite fun. The route passed through several villages along the way, and the kids took great delight in shouting out for wheelies as we passed. It started to rain which is quite welcome after a hard day in the dirt. Before we knew it we had arrived back at Temple town, covered in mud with big grins on our faces.
All in all it was a fabulous day’s riding and everyone was pumped, and already looking forward to next month’s ride. Saturday’s ride was a mixed ability group and sometimes it is hard to judge exactly what people are capable of, but I like to push people a bit because people often surprise themselves, and there’s no better feeling of accomplishment once you’re through the quagmire or whatever is thrown at you. Hats off to Richard who hadn’t ridden anything like this in his life, you are a trooper sir, and Thomas who did the whole day on semi off-road tires without falling off!
You don’t get much more fun than riding dirt bikes,[in the mud] and it is a great way to meet people and let off steam, so if you are reading this, be sure to join us for one of our monthly rides! Thanks to everyone who came.