We are very lucky to live in Cambodia. The people here are so friendly and easy to get on with and the food and vibrant culture make every day interesting. Also, the weather is great all year round. It is also a dirt bikers paradise, with the country offering a wide array of conditions from flat fast single track through the forests to technical mountain trails on the border regions. These all completely change come the monsoon. Living in Siem Reap though, we can be on great trails within 10 minutes. Our regular afternoon/weekend riding spots are, depending on the time of year: The Tonle Sap Lake floodplains, around Phnom Krom Mountain, The West Barey and the canals leading away to Phnom Bok and beyond.
The Tonle Sap Lake offers you awesome single track with deep sandy ruts. As you make your way deeper into the floodplains you can see the tidemarks in the trees where the lake reaches when it triples in size in the wet season. Depending how dry it is you can get all the way around the lake to Kompong Phluuk and the floating villages and further, with the equivalent to wide open beach riding in parts. A lot of it is tall grassland which can get a bit precarious trying to guess where the ruts are. Great fun!
Phnom Krom is great if you’ve only got a couple of hours to spare. More sand and in the dry season a continuous loop of exciting single track. There is also quite a lot of sand quarrying going on out there, and we love tearing up the tracks the heavy lorries make. Great for honing those power sliding skills.
Last weekend, myself and my friends Alex, and Richard [who I have mentioned in recent blogs ]decided to head out to the Barey. The West Barey is a massive man-made reservoir stretching 8km in length, built during Angkorian times and is a remarkable feat of engineering considering the resources people had back then. In recent years it has completely dried out, and we often go there for barbeques and to have drag races up and down the beach. We have also made a little practice track with some Endurocross style obstacles, making use of the natural jumps and berms.
It hadn’t dried up enough so we decided to follow the canals that lead off from this and snake off into the surrounding countryside. Richard had just exchanged his Honda CRF250L for a Yamaha WR250F, and was eager to put his new weapon to the test. Alex was on the CRF250X, and myself an older model WR250F. The canals are great fun with mainly single track and the embankments on either side, due to run off in the wet season, have fallen into various states of disrepair creating some nice technical obstacles, ruts, small ravines, and little climbs.To begin with it was fairly easy going, and then, when we met our first washout we had to drop down into the [dried out] canal and up to the other side to continue. Richard is still honing his off-road skills at off-road so he took it easy, while me and Alex led the way.
Next obstacle was another washout this time ride able and we eased our way through this no problems, aside from me catching one of my new SIDI bootstraps on a root snapping it right off. Not so good!
It was starting to warm up as it was reaching midday as we met our next challenge; a decline in the bank with a rut at the bottom. I popped my front wheel over and got through ok, but Alex opted for a different route, only to get bogged down in the deep sand embankment to get up the other side. Because of the angle the only way to get back up is to pop the clutch and use a Graham Jarvis style Pivot turn to get the bike back on track. Alex had several goes and almost got it. Lending a helping hand I managed to get the bike up for him with the help of Richard pulling the front end. Now it was Rich’s turn and he spotted another line straight down through the rut, across the canal and up the other side. Why didn’t we spot that? ;)
After this me and Alex continued up the hill in the embankment and met Richard on the road crossing the canal. Rich was pretty tired and decided to head back. Alex and I kept going for another couple of hours. We got completely stuck twice,[see pic above] and found some new trails, so all in all it was a productive and enjoyable afternoon riding.
Looking forward to next week!