Kirirom is a 700 metre high hill in Kampong Speu Province, 2 hours’ drive from Phnom Penh. Geoff was in town, and we wanted to show him a good time, so we headed straight for the hill.
Kirirom is synonymous with mountain bikers for its wicked forest single track. It’s also the venue for annual mountain bike race with the most technical riding found in Cambodia. Having skipped last year’s race, Dirk wanted to show Geoff what the newly designed course looked like.
It was definitely cooler in Kirirom than Phnom Penh. I wished I had brought a jumper as we leaped out of the car into the cool higher altitude air. But the sweat started pouring soon enough as we got on our bikes, negotiating the new course with its straight off single track.
The new course is definitely an improvement on the one I rode in 2010. Million dollar hill has been downgraded to a few grand, and now is totally ride-able. A convenient sandbag has been placed at the bridge for those of us who can’t bunny hop onto a height. And the ruts in the road have been smoothened out as you ride out of the river.
Not content with just taking on the course, we decided to head for the summit. But before heading onwards and upwards, Dirk decided we’d have a quick coffee and “BBQ chicken gizzard” break. I opted for some bananas and proceeded to feed them to a pet monkey the shop had tied up. And whilst I was tending to the ape, a flower seller came and sold her wares to one of the lads. Before I knew it, my mtb companions had zip-tied the flowers to my helmet, giving me a floral head garland for the rest of the day.
It took us a while to figure out how to get to the top of Kirirom. There’s a load of trails heading in all sorts of directions in and around the forest. Kirirom itself is part of a 35,000 hectare national park in Cambodia’s Elephant Mountains. Fortunately Dirk and Geoff finally started to have déjà vu. Both had already been to the summit and soon remembered the way to go.
The climb was worth it. Most hill tops in Cambodia are covered in forest that is impossible to see through. You get to the top, see lots of trees, and then make your way back down again. However Kirirom’s top was right on a cliff, allowing us to see the forested valley stretching out below. Fortunately I had my Garmin Edge with me and had traced out route coming up. Finding our way back to the carpark was made all the easier through following my GPS line back down.
Though Kirirom is a bit of a hike, with a total of 4 hours from Phnom Penh, it is a definite good day out for a bit of technical mountain biking. Alternatively, you could stay the night in Kirirom itself and go mountain biking for two days, sacking out at either Kirirom Resort at the Park bottom, or at one of the other more basic places nearer the top of the hill.