This time of year I like to go on as many tour reccy’s as possible. There is nothing better than finding awesome new trails and getting lost in the process, maybe with a bit of camping in the jungle.
For one, the wet season is now over and it’s a good opportunity to see whether the impassable, waterlogged roads are clear, which makes planning the tours easier. Many trail conditions change from being pounded by five months of monsoon rain and constant abuse by oxcart. You also have to be aware of the trails near the borders, as there are an estimated 1 million landmines still believed to be left in the country, and they tend to shift in the wet, so it is important to find out about present conditions in these areas.
Not only that, but with the rate of development of a lot of the off-road routes we take end up being graded and sealed in a lot of areas, so we need to find new routes all the time. It’s not like when I first arrived fifteen years ago, when the main highways were just kilometers of and monsoon battered and war torn bomb craters. Route 5 from Battambang was particular bad [good for dirt bikes though!] to the extent where the bomb craters were so big you could see a pickup truck coming towards you in the distance and it would just disappear and then reappear. The main provincial highways were just sandy single track and even Monivong high street in Phnom Penh was technical in parts! The whole country was one big motocross track; a dirt biker’s paradise, no wonder I’ve stayed here so long! Nowadays you often have to put up with a bit of tarmac and red graded roads, to get to the good trails which can get a bit boring, so we try and find the most exciting trails to keep all you guys happy when you come on a dirt bike tour with us.
The riverfront in Phnom Penh circa 1999
Me and my partner, La went on a little reccy last week, mainly to see if the route from Kvow to Koh Ker is doable now, and check out a new trail we had heard of. One month ago there was so much water that it was a bit of a mission. This time there were a few places still under water, but was mainly great sandy single track, and some nice muddy bogs in places; nice fast riding. We found the turn off to the trails we had heard of, but had to save it for a later day as we were running out of time, and I wanted to try and find another trail I hadn’t done for about ten years. It was still there, and was just as fun as I remembered, serving up deep ruts and awesome windy single trail through the jungle heading back towards Angkor.
Another brilliant day out on the bikes. Sometimes though, you just want to keep riding. It’s a shame there isn’t more time to ride … but hold on I get paid for that. It’s a hard life aye?
If you want to see what Kickstart has to offer on the trails check out our YouTube channel
Until next time…