Dean McLachlan purrs into the MyCargo Bar and Restaurant parking space in Siem Reap astride his beloved bike, an eye-catching Honda VT 1300cc Stateliner.
He strides to the meeting table, confirming that he’s the “official” spokesman for the Dirty Cuts Motorcycle Club, and reiterating that he is here really to only discuss the club’s forthcoming big bash, the second annual Siem Reap Bike Meet to be held in the MyCargo precincts on August 18.
In earlier communication he declared, “To avoid disappointment, please avoid any questions about the inner workings or specific information relating to the club.”
He also called for a face-to-face meeting, “To ensure we understand one another clearly.”
Tough sounding, but in person McLachlan is personable and charming, dropping a-la-biker sternness to state that club members are clean, decent folks who shun rape and pillage and are instead intent on community service.
Although club founding member David King did say in an interview with another publication two years ago that, “The imagery incorporated in the club patch can come across as quite strong and even offensive to some folk.”
But Dean adds, “You can ask around but I’m sure that we are decent people. We’re closer to a riding club than a motorcycle club. We started in 2013, so this is our fifth year. There were four founding members at the table when the club was founded; and there are six formal members now.
“Like the transient population of Siem Reap, members have come and gone over the years. We are also very firm believers in quality over quantity.”
The ethnic makeup of members is all white and western, but the club is keen to attract Khmer members and, perhaps in keeping up with the #MeToo movement, Dean claims women too can become members – providing they pass the test.
“We are not strictly male only,” he says. “Overall, we believe in inclusion and equality and we demonstrate this through our various community activities. If women are interested to join, then they will be subject to the same process and requirements of any other person.”
Dean also points out that in the club there are respected business types such as ex-Canadian Scott McNeil, who has been Siem Reap’s branch manager for Celliers D’Aise for over a decade.
Dean himself is a business bloke, who left homeland Tasmania twelve years ago. He lobbed in Siem Reap ten years ago, worked in the travel tour industry and was a tour leader then country manager for Intrepid Travel. Now he’s started his own motorcycle adventure tour company, JustRide Asia, with co-founder David King.
But back to the business of the bike meet in August.
Dean says, “Our first meet was last year at Rosy Guesthouse. It was pretty small with about sixty people, but we perceived it went reasonably well. We were pleasantly surprised to welcome two world travellers last year, one of whom had travelled 60,000km around the world, when he heard about the Siem Reap Bike Meet and made his way to us.
“This year we already have commitments from riders in Thailand and interest from Laos. Our goal is to bring the various Cambodian motorcycle communities together and also those from neighboring countries.
“The meet is the only such event in Cambodia for motorcycle riders and enthusiasts. You could say this meet came about for selfish reasons, but we soon realised that this was an event not only motorcycle enthusiasts, but also the local community wanted on their calendar, and something that other riders and enthusiasts would travel for.
“It’s opportunity to gather the various groups of riders and bike enthusiasts of all ‘rides of life’ from Siem Reap to chat about bikes, riding, maintenance and mechanics and of course to ogle the wonderful machines that we all love.
“We favour safe, reliable, well-maintained machines above all else. There is a minimum engine capacity but otherwise, members can ride the machine of their choosing, so as a result we all ride different bikes.”
At the time of publication, Dean lists the entertainment and attractions planned for August.
“An acoustic duo is confirmed, also a newly formed four-piece rock band made up of some of Siem Reap’s best rock musos. The band’s name will be announced closer to the event.”
“A Kids’ Corner is confirmed, organised by ISSR School, and Gelato Lab will have a gelato stand with free gelato for kids. There’ll be a merchandise stall selling t-shirts and stickers, and at least six ‘show bikes’ have been confirmed.
“There will also be bike competitions such as ‘Best Custom’, ‘Best Stock’, ‘Furthest Travelled to Event’, that kind of thing, and a biker-themed paparazzi wall.”
Safety, especially in Cambodian conditions, will be big on the chat agenda at the meet.
“Cambodia and its roads demand that your motorcycle be able handle a variety of surfaces and conditions.”
“We elect a road captain who plans the route, and we have developed our own signals to help us communicate with one another on the road, to bring attention to potential hazards and varying road conditions. We tend to avoid drama and focus on the riding.”