This past weekend, more than 600 cyclists turned out at dawn for the annual Angkor Wat Bike Race and Ride at the temple complex outside Siem Reap, Cambodia. As the sun rose behind the main temple, cyclists shot off to tackle a 100 kilometer course, a 30 kilometer course, and a breezier 17 kilometer course.
I’m hard pressed to think of a more magical way to experience the temples of Angkor Wat than on a bicycle at sunrise. Throw in a group of passionate cycling companions and a great cause, and you’ve got the makings of a life-changing experience.<
Now in its sixth year, the Angkor Wat Bike Race is organized and hosted by Village Focus International, a non-profit organization that empowers local leaders to serve vulnerable communities in Cambodia and Laos. This year, the event raised more than $50,000 to support four Cambodian slum schools and a shelter for survivors of sex trafficking.
Participants included a mix of Cambodian cycling clubs, local ex-pats, and a small group of international regulars who return to Siem Reap each year just to participate in the race. From the photos in our gallery, it’s not difficult to see why they keep coming back.