It had been raining the night before, and in Cambodia’s wet season this can either mean the trails are completely washed out, (which is not necessarily a bad thing) or you get the perfect riding conditions. It was a bit of both this time. My customer for the morning was Arnaud from France. He was leaving that evening, and had decided to get a ride in before he got on the plane. He told me that he lived in Indonesia, and the riding and riding community were very similar to here, so I was looking forward to a good burn. I enjoy the half day tours as there are great trails around town within minutes, and you can have a good four hour ride and really go for it [depending of course on the client’s ability]. Either way it gives people a chance to get away from the mayhem of Temple town, and see what Cambodia is really about.
We left around 8am and headed straight out to the Tonle Sap flood plain, which is a very interesting place to ride; The Tonle Sap river is the only river in the world which can reverse its flow. Every year when the monsoon arrives, the mighty Mekong River, which runs down from China, increases it’s volume and forces the Tonle Sap river to reverse its flow, causing the Tonle Sap lake to increase nearly six times its size. As you tear up the sandy single-track through the flood plains, you can see the tide mark above three meters in some places at the top of the trees.
The wet season was just beginning, and the rain the night before gave just the right amount of grip in what would be otherwise deep loose sand [which is also fine ;) ] In some places however the trail turned to thick gloopy mud, causing us to nearly get stuck in a couple of places. As we got further into the flood plain, the trail changed from fast oxcart trails, to the embankments the divided the rice paddies. The trail got more technical as we pressed on through the tight tree cover, with drop offs and gulley’s we had to pop the clutch to get the front wheels up and over. Soon the temple hill of Phnom Krom was in sight. In the dry season you can get all the way around to the back of the hill, where there are some great hill climbs, and if you wanted there are hours of wide open riding around the lake. Unfortunately it was too wet to get any further so after a rest we made our way North East towards Puot town. The trails changed to Cambodia’s famous red graded roads, which wound through scenic rice fields, and charming rural villages. It is a beautiful time of year to visit, with the lush green seas of the rice fields surrounding you in all directions.
Stopping briefly in Puot for a coffee, we headed up to the West Barey; An Angkorian era reservoir hand built at the time of Angkor Wat. Running 8km in length it is another mind-blowing achievement from tthis amazing culture, that nowhere in the world rivaled during that period in history. Normally by July the reservoir fills from the monsoon rains, so you can only ride around the embankments at the top, but this has been a particularly dry year with the rains starting very late, so you can still get down into the lake and ride around the ‘beach’. The look on Arnauds face as we dropped down onto the sandy plain was priceless. I let him lead and we had great fun tearing around the edge of the lake, hitting jumps and tight off camber turns. When the beach ran out ,we climbed up the side of the embankment through big ruts and over boulders. We made our way on the outskirts of the Angkor Park, to the Hill temple of Phnom Bok. There are 653steps, but we opted to ride up the loose track consisting of tight hairpins and steep rocky sections. Less chance of a heart attack! Once at the top we were rewarded with amazing views, of the route we had taken that morning.
Then back into town and the end of the ride. It is very rewarding beginning a ride with a complete stranger, and by the end you feel like you’ve been mates forever. This is the great think about dirt biking, it brings like minded people together all over the world. Cheers Arnaud mate. I will definitely take you up on the offer of a ride if we’re ever in your neck of the woods.