THREE retired Oxon police officers have made the most of their retirement, flying to South East Asia and embarking on a three-month adventure on their bikes through four countries.

Now one of them, Matt Jenkins, has written a book about the ride he shared with Matt Coburn and Chris Griffin.

In Three Blokes on Spokes, he describes the 2,000-mile trip to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam and gives tips to others who might be tempted to follow their enterprise.

Witney Gazette: Chris Griffin hands butterfly stickers to schoolchildren in LaosChris Griffin hands butterfly stickers to schoolchildren in Laos

The idea for the trip emerged as the three, all retired police officers and in their late fifties, sat in a restaurant at the end of a week-long ride in France.

Mr Jenkins, who lives in Kidlington, recalls: "A place mat on the table showed a rough map of Vietnam. I picked up a napkin, asked a waiter for a pen and drew a rough map of Indochina.

"I have never been much good at art, but my attempt seemed to grab their attention."

Within seconds, Mr Coburn, of Long Hanborough, said: "Let's do it." Mr Griffin, of Witney, added: "I'm in."

After 18 months’ planning, the trio set off from Heathrow on a Thai Airways' flight to Bangkok, where they spent two nights in the Twin Towers hotel before setting off by sleeper train for Chiang Mai.

Witney Gazette: The beauty of LaosThe beauty of Laos

After enjoying New Year celebrations and a good night's sleep in a hotel, they were waved off by hotel staff and their journey by bike was finally under way.

Mr Jenkins writes: "Ahead of us lay some of the most breathtaking scenery on this planet, not to mention adventures and experiences we would never forget."

Across the border into Laos, the trio spent a day travelling on the Mekong river in a narrow boat to Pakbeng.

READ MORE: Why cyclists don't always use the cycle lane

During a week-long ride from there to Luang Prabang, they were treated like celebrities.

Mr Jenkins recalls: "It seemed the children had been told we were coming. They shouted and held out their hands for 'low fives' as we passed. Even adults waved.

"The hospitality of the Laos people was overwhelming. They didn't just share their food, they gave their meal to you on occasions."

'Crazy men on bikes'

On another occasion, when they stopped for refreshment, 10 boys aged 14-18 were so impressed with 'three crazy men on bikes', they joined them at their table and handed over their meals.

Of course, it was not all plain sailing. Road surfaces were good and bad, and temperatures reached 37 degrees. The cyclists had to push their bikes through sand in an area where tigers and elephants roamed. They were rescued by a passing driver, who took them and their bikes in his 4x4 to a guesthouse.

Summing up, Mr Jenkins, who retired from Thames Valley police after 31 years’ service in 2010, writes: “Chris had concerns whether we would find accommodation every night. We did. Matt wondered if he could climb the highest mountains. We all coped. The pieces fitted together easily in those three months.

“We learned that money is not necessarily the source of true happiness. Some of the happiest and friendliest people we met were very poor. Their smiles, as broad as the Mekong river, were not because they had materialistic possessions. The less they have, the more they want to give. I admired their lifestyle.”

He urges fellow cyclists: “Take a chance, buy a decent bike, plan a trip, grab life by the handlebars and enjoy the ride, wherever that may lead.”

For a copy of Three Blokes on Spokes, go to or to Summertown Cycles in Banbury Road, Oxford.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or 01865 425 445.