Bhutan to Host “Tour of the Dragon” Mountain Bike Race
Bhutan’s third annual “Tour of the Dragon” mountain bike race, taking place on Sept. 1, provides participants with an opportunity to test their mettle in a destination unlike any other in the world. With rugged terrain, quickly changing altitudes and spectacular surroundings, this one-day road race offers riders a chance to test their skills and prove their endurance in a stunning natural setting that remains largely untouched.
Starting in Bumthang in central Bhutan, the event -- often dubbed the “Death Race” by participants -- crosses four high mountain passes before concluding in the capital city of Thimphu in western Bhutan. It is not just the length of the race, however, that is truly challenging, but also the high elevation and extreme variation of altitude. The 166-mile race spans elevations ranging from 3,937 to 10,958 feet, and riders gain 12,434 feet and lose 12,959 feet in total during the race.
As grueling as this one-day race may be, it is breathtaking, with pristine natural surroundings encountered along the way. From some of the last virgin forests in the world to stunning views of some of the world’s highest peaks, the untouched ecosystems that riders will experience during the Tour of the Dragon make the effort worthwhile.
Participants at this year’s event will also find themselves riding alongside royalty. Prince Jigyel U. Wangchuck, who is a biking enthusiast and president of the Bhutan Olympic Committee, conceived the race and is one of the few people who have completed it in record time. Many of Bhutan’s top hotels are offering race participants 10-night packages.