Siem Reap revs up for Bike Annual again

Peter Olszewski / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Scott McNeil with row of bikes. Supplied

Don’t miss out on photoshoots of 100 motorbikes in a formation ride to Angkor Wat and then Pub Street

IT’S all action at Siem Reap’s hangout for motorbike enthusiasts as preparations for the 3rd Annual Siem Reap Bike Meet on Nov 23 at the new Boxville entertainment complex are underway.

The biker headquarters, on a dirt road just off National Road 6, are comprised of three businesses: a motorcycle repair and maintenance garage, formerly called ‘The Shed’, now known as ‘Out of the Box’, plus the headquarters of ‘JustRide Motorbike Adventure Tours’, and the new ‘JustRide MotoCafe & Bar’.

Dean McLachlan. Supplied

The main man in most of this is Dean McLachlan. He’s the official spokesman of the Dirty Cuts Motorcycle Club, the co-founder of the Siem Reap Bike Meet, the co-founder of JustRide Motorbike Adventures, and the co-founder of the ‘RefillNotLandfill’ movement in Cambodia.

He loves bikes and people who ride bikes, and he’s particularly pleased that more Khmers are riding bikes.

“We have seen the Khmer bike community grow quite drastically particularly in the past 3-4 years,” he says. “We have also seen a maturing of that community, with more riders wearing sensible gear, helmets and also creating groups or clubs to support one another. It’s really exciting to see this, and also to be at the centre of it.

Bekka Shadoan. Supplied

“But we have also seen many Khmers around town, here and in Phnom Penh riding large CCs, powerful sports and other bikes which is great. What isn’t so great is that safety doesn’t appear to be a priority or concern at all, as much of the time they don’t event wear the bare minimum safety gear.”

At the ‘office,’ McLachlan is hunkered down with fellow Dirty Cuts club member and wine expert Scott O’Neill, the branch manager of ‘Cellier’s d’Asie Siem Reap’, and Bekka Shadoan, the Bike Meet’s communications supremo, who is busily crafting press releases.

Asked the reason for the Annual, Dean McLachlan says, “Do we need a reason to gather a group of motorcycle enthusiasts and friends to get together to share our passion for motorcycles, motorcycle culture, live music, great food.

Bikers arriving in Siem Reap for the weekend of fun and camaraderie. Supplied

“And at the same time to raise money to provide road safety education and awareness education and to donate helmets to children living near dangerous and busy roads?”

Bekka Shadoan adds, “Siem Reap Bike Meet is for our community’s families and motorcycle lovers to come together, enjoy some amazing music and beautiful bikes, while showing support for road safety education and responsible riding in Siem Reap and all of Cambodia.”

She cranks out further information in her press releases, posing the question, “What exactly is a ‘bike meet’ anyhow?” and providing the following answer, “More commonly known as a ‘bike week’ because they’ve grown to span the course of several days, these famous events have Southeast Asian homes in Thailand, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

“This meet-greet-ogle subculture had not yet taken a firm hold in Cambodia until August 2017, when Siem Reap Bike Meet first began as a simple and humble gathering of friends at a guesthouse.”

The weekend’s meet also features pre and post-meet activities, and downtown Siem Reap will be lit up. Supplied

Organisers had predicted 80 attendees for the first meet, but instead 120 turned up, and last year’s turnout also soundly exceeded crowd predictions. “We absolutely filled the venue,” says Dean McLachlan, “People and bikes were overflowing into the street.”

So this year it’s been time for change and to expand the entertainment side in the direction of a music festival. First, the date was moved from August to avoid the “r word” – rain. Plus a much bigger venue was found.

This year’s meet, running from 11am to 11pm, will be in the container market Boxville, on National Road 6. This venue comes complete with a just-constructed Ferris wheel so huge that it provides a view of Angkor Wat and is accordingly called ‘Angkor Eye’.

The meet will feature live music from five local bands, a live skateboarding show, a charity shave-a-thon, and a motorcycle competition with prizes. Plus there’ll be a market place featuring motorbike gear vendors, a kid’s mega-playground, and food and drinks will be available from 11am to 9pm.

There will also be raffle draws for charity, with funds going towards providing kids at risk with bike helmets.

 

Last year’s raffle raised $1,300 for the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, a Cambodian NGO promoting road safety and providing helmets for school kids. The raffle money paid for 70 helmets, and the NGO chipped in another 26 helmets. This year, raffle funds and donations will go to a charity called ‘Lids For Kids’.

The weekend’s meet also features pre and post-meet activities, and downtown Siem Reap will be lit up and alive on the eve of Friday (Nov 22) with the Light’Em Up curtain-raiser  billed as a “Massive inaugural, annual historical motorcycle ride.”

This is organized by Douglas Beattie of the Wild Cambodia Press who wants 100 motorbikes to partake in a formation ride to Angkor Wat and to form a huge display in Pub Street. This will includes a police escort for the city section of the ride, and a group photo shoot at Angkor Wat and Pub Street.

There will also be social recovery rides after the meet, on Sunday (Nov 24), with groups riding together to a location within 100km of the bike meet. There will be rides for three different classes of motorbikes – small bikes and scooters, big motorcycles, and dirt bikes.

After that, all participants will have a year to recover until the next meet in 2020.

 

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