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50 + NESC rider visits Siem Reap and Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia. February 2008

While all of you guys are busy travelling south to Florida to get ready for the upcoming season, I went a bit further east (8,300+ miles) to get some riding in. Over the years I have been very fortunate to have been able to travel to many exotic countries around the world. So, why not combine that travel “Jones” with my favorite past time?

In 2007 we rode 800 kilometers (mostly pavement) in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam. For 2008 we decided to visit Cambodia to see the ancient Religious Temples in the Angkor Region of Siem Reap and Preah Vihear Province. Hidden Cambodia Adventure Dirt Bike Tours supplied an XR 250 Honda, a TTR 250 Yamaha, a support crew and truck. The Trail boss spoke English quite well and kept us from getting in trouble with land mines.

The country was devastated by war from 1972 to 1999. From 1975 to 1979 the communist Khmer Rouge killed between 2 and 3 million people (you may have seen the “Killing Fields” movie which depicted this heinous time). The country has been heavily mined and there are still many pieces of unexploded ordinance and land mines in certain areas. The trails and dirt roads have “Danger Mines” signs on both sides, so we kept on the “main line” pretty well. The soils are Latterite clay that is like grease in the rainy season and like concrete in the dry season. Dried cross ruts from last season, “wait a minute vines”, loose silt, water crossings, Water buffalo, ox carts and the Asian version of cows were typical trail obstacles. The extreme weather includes 6 months of torrential rain and 6 months of desert dryness. We were there in the dry season so the dust was absolutely nuts to ride in (but hey, no snow).

When the dirt roads were easy I had to ratchet up the speed to properly induce the adrenalin factor required. The bikes were geared to the moon, so 120 km/h was easily attained. Each day I was able to find some gnarly trails to jam on. Our overall route was a loop starting at Siem Reap through Preah Vihear Province to the border with Thailand, then returning to Siem Reap. We stayed in open wooden houses in the villages and were celebrities with most of the children who we gave bubble gum. Taking showers from 55 gallon drums of cold water with a cook pot was the hot set up after a long day of eating dust. Rice with pig, chicken or cow and mostly warm beer was eagerly consumed.

It was a great experience and visiting these places puts things back home in a better perspective. I can’t wait to line up at Southwick with the other two stooges, Flanagan and Pomeroy in just a few weeks. Butch, make sure they don’t put out any UXO for the first open practice.

Chris Knuth #64

   
   
   
 
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