Cycling through the Himalayas during Tours to Bhutan

Bumthang Chhu River in Bhutan

Bumthang Chhu River in Bhutan

A way, quickly gaining popularity, for people to enjoy their Bhutan tours is to participate in the Tour of the Dragon. It is a cycling or mountain-biking race, started by the head of the national Olympic Committee, Prince Jigyel Wangchuck. This one-day event takes cyclists through the Himalayan mountains of western and central Bhutan. Cyclists or bikers, during this 268-kilometre journey, trail through breathtaking landforms and cross high passes that makes the expedition quite exciting. On the way, bikers encounter meandering and hissing streams and thick, green forests, further elevating its scenic charm. The race is held every year on the first Saturday of the month of September as the monsoon just gets over and the warm summers give way to cool autumn.

Course

Tour of the Dragon, considered by some, as the most dangerous and exciting race in the world, begins from Bumthang district, 2610 metres above sea level. Cyclists meander along the Bumthang Chhu River and then ascend through a forest of Blue pine to reach Kiki La. The next leg of the excursion continues through the pine forest to Gyatsha through Nangar and Chumney. Moving on, participants pass through a forests of cedar, fir and spruce and then through patches of rhododendron and alpine grasslands to Trongsa, through Yotongla. As bikers climb upwards and arrive near the Jigme Wangchuck National Park, most of the ascent is over.

The last upward stretch is a climb of just about 150 metres to Chendebji village through a path where the broadleaved trees are replaced by hemlock trees. Continuing their journey, bikers pass through agricultural fields and pastures to Longte, via Chazam and Rukubji. Wangdue Phodrang is reached after a long descent through patches of fir, rhododendron and larch and after passing numerous waterfalls on the way. The way to Dochula involves ascending for around 38 km from Metshina. On the way, participants pass the settlements of Thinley Gang, Lumitsawa, Lamperi and a small stupa. People, undertaking this course during their tours to Bhutan, then bike down the mountains to Thimphu clock tower where the race ends.

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