Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tour de Cambodge

Tour de Cambodge

Ok, so not quite the Tour De France, but just as much of a challenge for a chubby tour leader who usually spends days on buses not bikes.

I have 3 pax, one is a 16 yr lad who has non bounds to his energy and his appetite.

Day 1 – Distance 78km

We started in Phnom Phen on 8 July, tackling the traffic till we got to a back lane that took us to the Killing Fields. The road was muddy and potholed after recent rain. This was the beginning of our very local interaction as anyone who wasn’t waving at us was laughing!

Then it was onto Takeo a very quite town to the SE of Phnom Phen. Along the way I got a sore throat from yelling hello about a million times to every kid and most adults we passed. We were certainly a novelty with people on motorbikes riding next to us slowly just so they could stare.

The last 10km was along a back road through a remote village. The kids there were not quite sure what to make of these 5 people coming along on fancy bikes. They would wave, stare or simply run away. We stopped for some photo ops and the kids love seeing themselves in the screen of the digital cameras.

In true Intrepid Leader fashion, I led from the front…I showed them how to fall off without getting too injured. This was the second fall in a week, as I fell off last week in the mud in Kampong Cham. Lucky it was the other side, so now I have matching grazes on my elbows! In my defence I was trying to avoid Pauline who had stopped at a cow hazard that I hadn’t seen as I was too busy waving and saying hello to everyone and wasn’t looking.

We had to stop while Dan went off into a muddy field to play soccer with the kids. They didn’t really know how to take him, but let him play for a while.

Day 2 – Distance 84km (I managed 48km)

Today was some more back roads, but tarred to Kampot. The roads here are flat for the most part so we can keep up a good speed. As I am the least fit of the bunch, they stuck me in the middle and pulled and pushed me to Kampot. Well actually, I rested for a bit, but wasn’t the only one! Lunch & dinner has been at very dodgy local restaurants which might explain my tummy upset at the moment!

I cheated a bit today, I was lagging behind, so I enlisted the help of 2 guys on a motorbike, one held my had while the other drove fast to catch me up to the group. They think it is hilarious and it helps me out.

The massage at the end was more painful than the riding.

Day 3 – Distance 108km (I did about 80km)

Starting to get the hang of this now. We had quite a long time on an excellent road with barely any traffic and we were powering along. I think that the news of the real TDF has inspired them to go faster, that and our guide is going to Vietnam for a race in a couple of days and I think he needs more training than we offer.

More yelling and waving at everyone we pass. Some teenage boys on old rattley bicycles decided to show us what they have. For their machines they got quite fast. Needless to say our guide and Dan, the 16 yo, would not be outdone by some young bucks and a race ensued! The kids still won, but then we stopped for a break. All this was happening into a headwind and we still were managing 22km/hr!

The kids come from everywhere, the birth rate here is certainly in the positive. They stare at us when we stop and are really shy making it hard to talk to them. Some have never seen such impressive bikes, and they are only medium range mountain bikes.

The road into Sihanoukville is quite dangerous as we had to contend with the trucks heading to and from the port. Luckily our support bus driver was very good at protecting us from the rampaging vehicles.

Day 4 – rest day at the beach, but the weather is rubbish.


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