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Two-wheel torture

Australian physical fitness trainer and endurance cyclist Norm Clark has just returned Down Under after an eight-day stint in Cambodia to map the course for this year’s Great Cambodian Bike Ride, which kicks off in Siem Reap on September 1.

Each year this ride, a fundraiser for Siem Reap NGO Kampuchea House, gets bigger and better – or worse, considering the participants’ point of view.

The course is true two-wheel torture and last year’s odyssey, which covered 700 kilometres over six days, took its toll on riders, especially Kampuchea House founder Les Stott, then 60 years old.

Last year, after the ride, Les announced he’d had enough and was hanging up his spandex. At the time Les told the Post, “I’ve done four of these rides and it’s taking its toll; it knocks me about, so I’ve retired.”

But 56-year-old Norm Clark, who also rode last year, hasn’t had enough.

He wants a whole lot more, and this year he’s organising the ride and seriously ramping it up, adding 500 kilometres to the course and extending it by two days.

Norm told 7Days that this year 10 riders – two from New Zealand and eight from Australia – will take part in the 1200-kilometre stamina-testing gut buster. Two support vehicles will tag the riders, as will a long wheel pick up with a canopy and a 15-seater bus with a local driver.

Norm said, “The main reason for this ride is to raise funds for the Kampuchea House orphanage, so we can build another house to take care of six more children.

“My aim is to raise AUD$40,000 (US$35,000), and each rider’s aim is to raise $3000-plus. We also have some major sponsors donating money as well and, to date, we have raised $19,000.”

Of course, the hunt is now on to secure more sponsors for the ride. Interested parties should contact Norm by emailing normclark@bigbloue.net.au.

The itinerary and road conditions report for the ride are as follows:
Day 1 (September 1, 2010): Siem Reap orphanage to Battambang, 225km. Bitumen road. Bit rough.
Day 2: Battambang to Pursat, 104km. Bitumen road. Good.
Day 3: Pursat to Pramaoy, 110km. Gravel road. A little rough.
Day 4: Pramaoy to Koh Kong (no support car), 105km. Rough to very rough demanding route with river crossings and lots of big hills.
Day 5: Koh Kong to Kampot, 210km. Bitumen road. Lots of hills to 145km point then flat last 65km.
Day 6: Kampot to Odonok, 160 km. Gravel road first 20km then dirt/clay for 95km-45km of good bitumen road to finish.
Day 7: Odonok to Kampong Thom, 150km. Good bitumen road, a little rough. Watch traffic. Cross bridge (new) and ferry.
Day 8: Kampong Thom to Siem Reap orphanage, 107km. Road wide and OK.

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