Cyclos tackle 300km Marathon

by Sam Davies, Phnom Penh Post

If the Tour de France is the most punishing ride on two wheels, then the inaugural Siem Reap to Phnom Penh Cyclo Rally promises to be the most punishing ride on three.

Twenty drivers, up to 120 kilometres a day, four days in a row, and pushing your teammate the entire 314 km in one of the hottest months of the year.

Starting on Sunday, March 21, ten teams will leave Siem Reap, raising money and awareness for the Cyclo Centre as they go. All going well, ten teams will finish the race at Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh by the afternoon of March 25.

Seldom seen in Siem Reap, the cyclos will be made available for tours of the Ankor tempels the day before the race, through Local Adventures Cambodia.

Established in 1999, the Cyclo Centre is run under the auspices of the Urban Resource Centre and offers support networks and services for the estimated 3000 cyclo drivers in Phnom Penh. Drivers can access health services and information, emergency aid, English lessons and free haircuts.

Nouv Sarany, project manager at the Cyclo Centre, said she wanted to show through the rally the environmental benefits of riding. “With a cyclo, there’s no pollution. Drivers also will be smoke-free, thanks to sponsorship from the World Health Organisation.”

In recent years, many have pondered the future of Cyclos in a country now dominated by motodops. But Kiwi photographer Rob Joiner, currently writing a book on the Cyclos and volunteering on the rally, is confident: “They are still a vital part of the transport industry. You need them to transport double beds, coconuts from the market, etc. It’s hard to transport this on a moto, and other transport is more costly. I think they’ll be around for a while yet.

For more information or to offer donations, contact Rob Joiner, 012 783 701.

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