Ian K
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Matt Bailey's 520km Cambodian Cycle Challenge

Ian K
Posted by
09 Aug 2013

Unstoppable supporter Matthew Bailey, a leukaemia survivor, has been wanting to give something back and say thank you to those who helped cure him for some time. Unfortunately as he is 15 he has been unable to participate in any of the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research organised events. He also lives on the wrong continent in Singapore! So he decided to create and take on his very own unique challenge - and he didn't set himself a simple one... 

With the support of his family, Matt cycled 520km through Cambodia, from Phnom Penh via Pursat to the Siem Reap area, creating awareness for the hardships that are experienced in the most deprived areas of this beautiful country, as well as fundraising for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

Having done some training back home, going cycling with his Dad every weekend, he soon realised the conditions in Singapore are nothing like those in Cambodia. Matt said:

"It is going great and the cycle is great fun! Mountain biking is a very different experience to the road biking that I am used to. Cambodia is a very beautiful country. The tracks are very dusty and some never seem to end! One that we encountered was washed away by the heavy rain the day before and turned from a dusty track to an inaccessible mud pit! It is a challenge and I wanted to push myself to do it!"

Matt aimed to travel around 90km a day (or more) with a short break every 20km to get out of the sweltering heat (temperatures are around 34 C +). The weather was very erratic, with sudden changes that forced the Bailey family to change their route, as some roads became inaccessible due to the monsoon season. Matt said:

"The heat was extremely tough and on three days, (due to bad weather that stopped us from cycling our planned distance) we cycled 105km which was exhausting!"

Matt reached 44km/h on flat sections, and cold showers soon became a welcome relief after the hot days. In the evenings all they could do was collapse on their beds.

Matt wrote a diary (sadly in a notebook) and took thousands of pictures and constant video to capture as much of the experience as possible. He also conducted 3 interviews at the Landmine museum, Angkor hospital for children, and with the recently retired deputy manager of the HIV/ AIDs program in Siem Reap. He said:

"It was a great experience and I have seen huge diversity in living standards and quality of healthcare that has given me more of an insight to how people live in the very rural areas of Cambodia."

On route, Matt visited Angkor Wat, the 7th wonder of the world, and other temples and is now recovering from his epic adventure.

Although he's already finished his challenge, it's not too late to sponsor Matt who has set himself a fundraising target of £15,000 (£1000 for each year of his life). Below is a short video to give you a flavour of his extraordinary achievement: