The route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/157782658
The chat: The long one. Today we learnt that if you’re going to ride almost 90 miles on a laden tandem in the hot season, you’d better find somewhere good to break the journey. Fortunately we did.
Having bid a fond farewell to our host family, the jungle climbs started almost immediately. Less steep and shorter than yesterday, they nonetheless reminded our legs they were due a rest day. But the road was wonderfully quiet and cool, with only the odd passing truck for company, and we made good time. Breakfast was taken at Srey Ambel, where we decided against intestine stew in favour of plain vanilla beef and noodle stew.
The heat had cranked up by the time we left, and as we approached the 100km mark it was nearing 40 degrees. Still 90km from Sihanoukville, it was time to get out of the sun and assess our situation. Should we press on after a quick lunch? Too hot. Should we try and get a ride to Sihanoukville in a bus? The kong wein (long bike) was too big to fit in a bus, and wasn’t that against the rules anyway? Should we cut our losses, stay in a non-descript guest house/brothel/bed bug breeding farm on the side of the road? Not much fun…
We’d spotted a swanky (by Khmer standards) hilltop restaurant a couple of clicks back, so we turned around, pedalled slowly up the shimmering tarmac, and staggered in. Two hours later, after 2 main courses, 2 litres of water, 5 cans of coke and two ice coffees, we were $10 worse off, but our kidneys and legs were working again.
The 40km to the Sihanoukville turn off were remarkably straight forward and pretty fast, but we still arrived nearing dusk and with another 50km to the town. When a passing taxi driver offered to take us the rest of the way in his wreck of a car for $20, we capitulated faster than the French. We justified it to ourselves and the god of bike touring that as it was an out and back road, we’d be doing it the other way in a few days. Plus we were dead beat. The driver fitted the bike to his custom tandem rack (see below) and half an hour later we pitched up at Orchidee guest house, where ageing overweight sexpats were tucking into fish and chips, beer, and much younger Cambodian girls. So proud.
We congratulated ourselves on an epic day in the saddle with margaritas and passable Mexican fare, marvelling all the while at the energy of all the young guns with their crispy red skin and fresh tats hitting up town. I guess they weren’t up at 5.30 a.m… Feeling very old, we crawled into bed just as the rest of the town was getting going.