The breathtaking and almost otherworldly county of Bhutan is home to one of the world’s hardest one-day mountain bike races — and it’s open to competitors and fans from around the world. Known as the Tour of the Dragon, the race covers 268 kilometers (approximately 166 miles) in the stunning Himalayan Mountains. If extreme mountain biking and stunning destinations are your thing, this is one race you won’t want to miss.
The Tour of the Dragon starts in Bumthang and travels over four mountain passes and through lush blue pine forests and across clear streams before finishing in Thimphu town square. This race comes with its challenges, and a sweep is conducted at the end of the race to pick up those who cannot reach the finish line.
The race was created by His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel U. Wangchuck, who came up with the idea more than five years ago when he and his friends attempted a nearly impossible trek across Bhutan. Upon discovering they were successful, he decided to open a race for the public. Each year, the Prince either competes himself or helps participants on the course.
“Bhutan is the Tibet of one hundred years ago,” says Jeremy La Zelle, who directed the above film for Backpacker Films. “The country is pristine and breathtaking. The people love their natural environment and prefer to keep it intact.”
Bhutan’s policy maintains 60% of the land to be protected as National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, which will protect the country’s rugged beauty for generations to come.
Visitors must plan their trip through a tour organizer who will take care of the details of the trip. The race takes place on September 5, 2015, and it can take up to a month to secure a visa to Bhutan, so competitors and visitors should plan accordingly.
If You Go:
The tour’s official site has all visitors need, including course description, registration information and travel information: https://www.tourofthedragon.com/
There is also helpful information from Bhutan’s tourism board with contact information: https://www.visitbhutanyear.com/events/tour-of-the-dragon-bicycle-race/
The Tour of the Dragon film was produced by Backpacker Films, LLC.