The past weekend, 17 members of Team Anjali (also nicknamed ‘Team Zebra’ by our students due to the matching zebra shorts the team wore) took part in the 100km Angkor Wat Bike Race. It was an early start for everyone, with the students and teachers meeting at the Young Adult House at 4am to eat a meal of fried egg, pork soup and rice prepared by the Young Adult Boys. After a quick briefing on ‘stretch, drink lots of water, stick together’, everyone rode to the police station where we were met by the truck which was going to transport us to the bike race. At that point we realised we had already lost two students, so the older boys formed a search party and warmed up on their bicycles whilst looking for our students who had gone astray.
After we had finally located the students, it was time to head to Angkor Wat! It was a squashy truck ride, as 17 bikes combined with 17 people makes for little moving room. The students, despite the early hour, were excited for the ride as we saw many people also travelling to Angkor Wat. When we arrived and unloaded the truck, we split into our ‘Fast’, ‘Medium’ and ‘Slow’ groups, however due to the crowd, most of the team were split up straight away.
After a ‘Gangnam Style’ flash mob held by the organisers, the race began, with the most competitive people getting a big head start. The students also raced ahead, most of them in ones of twos, as they tried to catch up with the fastest competitors. The first lap went fairly fast and smoothly, however a couple of students ran into trouble on the second lap. One of the boys was kicked by one of the fast cyclists who was trying to get him out of the way, resulting in him falling of his bike and hitting his head. Luckily, as he told the teachers later, “I was wearing my helmet, so I was OK”. Then, another student fell off his bike and scrapped his face and arms. Once again, the trusty helmet saved him. Then a third student went over the edge off the road as the ‘professionals’ tried to push him out of the way, however he managed to jump off his bicycle before it hit the ground.
Three students finished after lap two (50km), due to one having a broken bicycle and two others being tired. After the third lap, 13 more students finished (75km), as many were tired from riding so fast, or, despite the endless amounts of water they had drunk, were dehydrated. Only one student made it to 100km – small boy. Small boy is the 13 year old cousin of one of our students who had joined us for all the training sessions. He has an incredibly amount of energy, is always polite to his team members and never gives up. We were speechless that out of all the strong students who participated in the race, the youngest, and skinniest, was the one to complete the whole 100km!
In the evening, Team Anjali went to Tonle Mekong Restaurant for a buffet dinner. The students kept piling their plates high with food, with the winner being Pheaktra, who ate no less than seven full plates of food. After the dinner, the team went to 60 road where they jumped on the trampoline (surprisingly with no food coming back up), drove the dodgem cars and rode the rollercoaster. It was a magnificent evening to celebrate the end of three months of training for the bike race. We are SO proud of our students and the physical and mental growth they have shown over the past few months. When we started this project, we knew there would be some changes in them, but we had no idea that it would be to this extent.
Thank you to Janet and Allen for supporting our bike training, Kristy and Grant for also being part of Team Anjali, and of course, our sponsors who enabled us to raise £3,360 for our ongoing running costs. We couldn’t have done it without you!