I am guessing most father’s on Father’s Day stay at home at enjoy a cup of tea in bed lovingly made by the wife followed by some lovely gifts and a day full of pampering and being treated by a king like the whole family right ? SO what do we do in Cambodia ? We take off and go dirt biking with the boys that’s what we do ! “It is father’s day…..I am of to the mountains for several days with my mates” actually goes down quite well here. “No worries…I will take the kids to mum’s then…” So three of us headed out – two KTM 2 strokes and my DRZ400 – for several days of riding Kiririom National Park. Jason’s brand new 2015 KTM250 absolutely howled along and I had the DRZ400 freshly serviced so it was blasting too. The stars were aligned and we wold soon be in the lush grass glades and heavily pine forested meadows of one of Cambodia’s loveliest spots.
We got as far as the airport before my rear brake seized on and burnt out the rear pads leaving us with 30 mins work and me without an emergency brake. 30 mins later and the O rings on Simon’s KTM blew up leaving him calling for his wife to bring the Tacoma and take him home and another 30 mins later and Jason’s brake lever lost a nut and we had to stop and do a little repair with the help of a roadside moto shop. Oh dear……i could feel it was going to be one of those rides. Jason and I made Kirirom by mid day and decided on taking a chance on a new resort that had only just opened at the top of the mountain. Not knowing what to expect we followed the signs and we were VERY pleasantly surprised indeed. lovely twin bungalow at $55 a night inc breakfast awaited breakfast included.
We wolfed down a quick lunch of chicken fried rice and a couple of cold Father’s Day beers and then geared up for an afternoon of blasting around the forest. We road a few trails that looped around and then found a promising one that headed into some nice looking country . We saw one abandoned XR250 that had no fuel in it ( more on that later ) and then came across a group of 20 or so Malaysian mountain bikers. Crazy bastards. We headed on and eventually started going up into some very gnarly trail sections. Very rocky and muddy and in some sections engine block deep in slush. The sun was shining and the bikes were performing so we pushed on and on and on and on. Anyone who rides Enduro knows that some mud and rock is fin but endless hours of it just becomes tiring and no fun at all and we crossed that line when we got to a river that was un-crossable and realised we had to turn back and go all the way back we came. Devastated, thirsty ( idid not take my camelbak – bad mistake ) tired and running low on fuel with bikes that were now starting to show wear from the hours of mud. Having looked for other ways across the river and only finding dodgy illegal bush camps with guys growing or doing god only knows what, we steeled ourselves and did a 180 and turned back.
About half way back my bike started pissing steam and the red temp light went on. I stopped the bike and the engine block was making a horrible noise indeed. I am definitely out of engine oil and super low on radiator water too. I start to really worry at this stage as we are still miles away from anywhere and woefully under-prepared for a night in the jungle which would have only been a precursor to a nightmare of a situation trying to get a buggered bike out the next day anyway. “we need to formulate a plan” says Jason ( who lives in Cambodia and is a fly in fly out Medic in Ethiopia, Africa ). Fuck the plan i thought…..I need this god damned bike to get me out of here ! After a 5 min break she started up again and we were soon back out in the glades where we had started and relieved the shit part was over but now facing new hurdles. We are both treacherously low on gasoline and my clutch has all but gone leaving me unable to most effectively use my gears PLUS…….we cannot remember the way out !! We start using our spider senses and follow our noses and eventually we find our tire tracks and know we are headed the right way but we are coasting in neutral down hills and know we only have a couple of kms left before we are bone dry and it is almost night time. We come to a fork and cannot figure out which way is the right way and we cannot afford a mistake. Just then Jason says “oh…there is a man in the bush over there ! “. More than a man…..it is US Special Forces out training the Cambodian equivalent !! The US soldier is very nice and chats to us and says he can organise some gasoline if we really need it ( they owned the XR we had seen earlier ) but says we are 1km from the main road. He then says “we are conducting some ambush exercises so if you wouldn’t mind moving on wed be grateful” We thought this was rather amusing. At this stage all we wanted was to be home and in the shower so PLEASE SEND US A HELICOPTER AND WE ARE OUT OF HERE !! We say cheerio and soon it the black tar and have to make one final decision to head left or right for petrol . We choose right which happens to be the direction back to the resort ( still 5km or so ) and as we coast in neutral down the hill we are praying to find some gas…….and there……at the bottom of the hill….as we run dry…..is a small hut selling gas……and cold beer. UN.BLOODY.BELIEVABLE. We are laughing as we fall off our bikes and watch the glorious petrol fill up the bikes. A cold beer tastes amazing and we are soon back at the resort filthy dirty, exhausted but out of the jungle with out bikes and in one piece.
A truly EPIC day ride and one I will not forget….ever.
We eat dinner and drink a couple of cold beers and laugh about the day. Mud, slush, rocks, fallen trees threatening to behead you, bamboo spikes threatening to spear you, no oil, illegal activity camps, special forces, no petrol……fuck me dead….you couldn’t have scripted a more complete day that almost went horribly wrong. We rang our Khmer mate Vuth who came to our rescue the next day with his 4×4 and trailer and 24 hours after we were staring at a horribly long night ion the jungle, we were drinking cold drafts in a Phnom Penh bar.