After the long ride of the previous day, today’s ride would be shorter with fast hard tracks to ride. The morning saw us making good speed in the very hot sun.
The trail was mainly laterite though there were small sections of mud where the top surface had worn away leaving small rutted sections which can easily catch you out if you hit them at speed. Though it did result in an interesting overtake where I hit a corner fast was committed to the line and passed another rider with my rear wheel off the ground.
By midday we had completed the track and were back on the graded road which was fortunate as one of the bikes had failed close to the end of the track. At this point, the group split part of the group taking the shorter route to town while the rest of us took a loop through a forest towards T’ Beang Meanchey. At the end of the day, I would have time to reflect on the decision to take the easy or difficult road.
As the water level in the rivers has dropped the ferries for the small rivers have been replaced by bridges controlled by the local ferryman and they expect a toll for each vehicle passing over their bridge. On one occasion we decided that the water was sufficiently shallow that we would just ride the bikes across much the obvious disappointment of the kid controlling the bridge.
After lunch, I decided I would go with the group taking the more difficult route, which included crossing a number of small bridges where the holes between the planks were sometimes bigger than the bridge itself. Approaching one such bridge at speed through a cloud of dust when braking hard the front washed out and saw me land on the ground hard foot trapped under the bike. Later I saw that the hot exhaust had melted through my trousers causing a reasonable size hole.
That was all forgotten when we got to our next big crossing of a small river where we had two options. Option 1 was cross using a small suspension bridge 6 metres above the river or ride down one bank and up the other side. I decided to take the suspension bridge which started to sway once the bike was on it. A steady ride to the middle and then a bit of gas got me safely across. Those that rode down the bank had mixed experiences some making it easily others having a few spills including one of the local guides who attempted to ride out the bike of one of our party who had crashed at the bottom of the river. The bike ended up in a vine bush pointing back down towards the river but fortunately on the right side of the river. It took some 20 minutes to retrieve the bike. The remainder of the trip to T’ Beang Meanchey was uneventful apart from a ride through a group of lorries upgrading the highway.
So to return to my moment of reflection yes the easier route is in most cases the more obvious path to take however the harder route will provide you with more experiences in life.