Enduro Cambodia

This post covers the period before and just after Christmas, since we spent both times mainly riding dirt. Thing is, aside from the major highways (and including a few), roads in Cambodia are dirt. Even big roads are what you’d call forestry roads in the uk, i.e. packed dirt and load of gravel, with huge clouds of dust off every vehicle, including the bikes. Minor roads, you’re lucky if they’re even packed dirt…

After our day of recovery from hiking, and the night of getting drunk with the hilltribes, we decided to head north to Ratanakiri province. The guidebook said it was for experienced off road enthusiasts only. The locals in Sen Monorom said there was a dirt road now halfway, but after that the tribes didnt want a road, so there are just basically hiking trails, loads of them everywhere. And if we wanted to try it, we’d need a guide. So we thought we’d have a go, on 3 Vietnamese road bikes.

The first part wasn’t so bad, packed gravel and basically a decent surface, although the dust did mean Pasquale got dressed up like an armoured Bedouin.

Even this bit wasnt so bad, at least the dirt was dry, although it hammered the suspension.

And the riverbeds were dry, since the monsoon is over. We got told about a French guy who tried this in the wet season, and he had to dismantle his bike 4 times, carry the bits over the river, and put it together again to carry on. Some of the climbs out of the riverbed were like trials bike courses, but i think we got lucky on that front.

By lunchtime, we were doing pretty well. Look at us there, a little dusty but basically happy, halfway to our goal with loads of time.

And then the road disappeared, we were onto the trails, and we got sand. Huge deep drifts of sand. The back tyres were basically ok, but our smooth front road tires just turned into snowploughs. We were all over the place.

After a few hours of this, and everyone falling off at least a couple of times, and even with the hilarity of watching Rhys bouncing around and managing to stay on, his motocross tyre throwing up huge clouds of dust, the strain was starting to show. Pasquale had had to pick up her bike about 10 times.  I looked back at one point just in time to see her swerve wildly off the track into a fence.

We rode like that for about 5 hours. Really fun, and intense, but really tough on these little bikes, and seriously draining. And when we though we’d got to the end, we hit a river crossing, and had to get a boat to take us across.

At least we got to relax for 5 minutes. Which was fortunate, since it wasn’t the end at all. We then had to do another 30kms, flat out, in the dark to get to Banlung, and a hotel.

By the end of all that, we looked like this. I have some ridiculous pictures of my face covered in dust, i look like Bigfoot, but if you want to see those you’ll have to ask me.

And Pooey looked like this.  The mudguard had been fatally wounded too, and i ended up snapping off half of it the next day as it was just flapping about. Aside from that, the little bugger was fine.

We thought we were done, as there was a highway from Banlung. But the highway, when we rode down it the next day, actually looked like this. In this middle of this photo is a “bridge”. There is a space underneath it for water to flow, but it otherwise utterly fails in its basic function of spanning the gap. There’s just a space about a foot and a half wide. We hit this at about 60kph.

Mmmm, lovely surface. Which i ate quite a lot of over the course of the day, in the form of lovely refreshing dust. Pic by Pasquale.

This one too. Love this pic, taken as we rode trails down the side of the Mekong.

Another “bridge”. This one was at least complete, although the logs weren’t fixed to the bridge in any way, and bounced alarmingly as you rode over it…

You can tell you’re lost when this is the road.

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, what you gonna do, what you gonna do when they come…. into your front garden at 2 in the afternoon, without a clue where the hell they are.

View over the Mekong on the way down from Kratie. We were hopelessly lost by this point, so you might as well take a nice pic.

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~ by zendog888 on 29/12/2010.

One Response to “Enduro Cambodia”

  1. In many of these pic rhys looks like a sexy version of Doc Brown from back to the future

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