Tour of the Dragon

At Pelela

Twenty-five bikers took part in the inaugural Tour of the Dragon yesterday.

The Dragon, a one-day bicycle ride from Bumthang to Thimphu, crosses 4 passes, all of them over 3,000 meters, and covers 268 kilometers through five dzongkhags. The breathtaking route offers an elevation gain of 4,000 meters, a whopping half of which is on the final ascent from Wangdiphodrang bridge to Dochula.

The Tour of the Dragon must be one of the more beautiful one-day bike rides in the world. It’s probably one of the most difficult ones too.

The official records are not yet out, but more than half of the participants completed yesterday’s ride. Ugen Yozer rode in first. Rinzin Norbu second. And HRH Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, the inspiration of the Tour, third.

As everyone knows, virtually any bike race worth its salt will feature a casualty. And so it was with the inaugural Tour of the Dragon.

A biker came barreling down to Trongsa, 68 km from the start of the race. He looked left then right at the small group of spectators, ostensibly to see if any of them planned to cross the road. But what the fool didn’t see was a bump on the road. That bump threw him off. And he landed squarely on his jaw.

The medical team stitched him up and attended to his bruises. And about an hour and a half later the fool rejoined the race.

I was that crazy fool.

The Tour of the Dragon will take place on the first Saturday of every September.

Photo credit: Karma Loday, CEO, Yangphel Travel

Traditional women

Today, at Jagathang, Paro, a beautiful sight – women playing khuru, complete with dhar.

Where are the cheerleaders?