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Get your spandex at the ready

A GROUP of cyclists from Siem Reap have begun training for the first Angkor Wat International Triathlon set to take place March 21.

The crew of 10 – comprising mostly Khmer men, except for a lone Khmer lady and a British guy – meets every afternoon at the Caltex station on National Road 6.

Helmeted and decked out in bright cycling apparel, the cyclists practiced bunny hops and reverse wheelies before they set out on a 40km ride last week. The gang got a few funny looks from a truckload of labourers filling up at the station but admitted that wasn’t uncommon.

“Everybody thinks I’m crazy. All the Khmers think I’m a crazy guy,” said rider Aki Pich as he worked on his sliding stop.

Phalkun Seng, the informal leader of the group, is the founder and managing director of Travel Loops, a travel agency that operates bicycle tours of Southeast Asia, so he’s no stranger to long bike rides. Travel Loops also provides the bikes for the team.

Phalkun Seng claims to have an interesting motivation to ride. “I started biking because I like to drink alcohol,” he said. “When I ride a bike after drinking I feel healthier and better.”

Of course, the triathlon will put the gang through a lot more than just biking: They’ll have to swim 300m and run 10km on top of biking 40km. The group seems most concerned with training for the cycling, as only Aki Pich said he runs regularly.

The triathlon is sponsored by Suromai Restaurant, the Apsara Authority and Seitoku Co., a Japanese construction company. Contestants will swim at Angkor Palace Resort and Spa before finishing up at Angkor Wat.

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