The toughest one day mountain bike race in the most beautiful place in the world, the Majestic Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan.
268km One Day Mountain Bike Race
Saturday, September 5, 2015, 2:00 A.M., Bumthang, Bhutan
Registration deadline: 4th August 2015
The Tour of the Dragon starts in Bumthang and travels 268km over 4 mountain passes before finishing in Thimphu town square. Billed as one of the toughest one day mountain bike races in the world Distance: 268km
A BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF THE TOUR OF THE DRAGON
The Tour of the Dragon starts in Bumthang, central Bhutan (2610m, 8560 ft), and takes you to Thimphu across four mountain passes or las as they are called in Dzongkha.
The riders follow the Bumthang chhu (river in Dzongkha) for a couple of kilometers and then climb 6km through blue pine forest to Kiki La at 2870m (9420 ft). From there it is down to Nangar. Through more blue pine forest and agricultural land you follow a gentle road through Chumey and up to Gaytsha (2950m, 9680ft).
The road then climbs 7 km up through blue pine forest to Bong Bridge and then gets a little steeper for about 5 km through mixed conifer and rhododendron forests and pastures till you reach Yotongla at 3430m (11250 ft). From Yotongla it is a 29 km downhill ride to Trongsa. The pass is dominated by fir and rhododendron forest, open pastures and rock outcrops. As you go down to Dorji Gonpa, which is almost halfway, firs give way to spruce and hemlock and mixed broadleaved forest dominated by birch and oaks and rhododendrons. Below Dorji Gonpa, the road passes though broadleaved forest and agricultural fields. There are some excellent viewpoints to see Trongsa, the Dzong and the extensive forests and agricultural fields beyond. Just before reaching Trongsa (2150m, 7050ft) you pass right below the Ta Dzong (a watchtower to guard the dzong from enemies).
From Trongsa the road descents gently for 7 km to the Bjee Zam bridge at 1900m (6230 ft) and then climbs 6 km through broadleaved forest to a view point from where the Trongsa Dzong seems just a stone throw away. The road continues climbing for another 10km along cliffs and through broadleaved forests and agricultural settlements. At Tshangkha it passes the headquarters of the Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park. After reaching Tashiling, a few km further, most of the climbing is done. For the last 20km you will only climb some 150m (500 ft), but there are some ups and downs. As you near Chendebji, hemlock replaces broadleaved species on some of the ridges and in the valley. You pass Chendebji chorten and a little later will reach Chendebji village (2430m, 7970 ft).
The road climbs through mixed conifer forest past Nikachu bridge at Chazam and Rukubji to the small settlement of Longte. By this time much of the trees have been replaced by pastures and agricultural fields. Through these pastures dominated by dwarf bamboo you reach Pelela (3430m, 11250 ft). You then continue your long descent through fir, birch, rhododendron forest and many small waterfalls to Wangdue Phodrang. After passing the village of Nobding, 12 km down, there is a single restaurant a further 12 km down and then a few shops at Teki Zampa another 15 km further. Just past here a new Japanese bridge spans the Dang Chhu. At Chuzomsa, there is a side road to an abandoned slate mine. After a long almost flat stretch you reach Wangdue Phodrang.
From Wangdue Phodrang, you continue to Metshina, an altitude of 1410m (4625 ft). From Metshina, the distance to Dochula at 3150m (10,330 ft) is 38.3 km and the race is all uphill with an average slope of 5% and a few short sections of up to 10%. You will pass Thinleygang (11 km), Lumitsawa (15km), Lampiri (28km) and a memorial chorten for traffic accident victims (32km). Thinleygang is the only place recognizable as a village, having a couple of shops and a BHU (Basic Health Unit). Racing 1700 m (5575 ft) uphill is as breathtaking as the views.
After Dochula, it all downhill to Thimphu at 2330 m (7640 ft) with a small climb only at the end to the Thimphu city square.
Elevation in m (ft)
Elevation in m (ft)
Highest Point in m (ft)
Distance in kilometer
Kiki la – 2870 (9420)
Yotong la – 3434 (11260)
Near Chendebji – 2440 (8000)
Pele la – 3430 (11250)
INTERESTING SIGHTS ALONG THE WAY
Bumthang is one of the most historic dzongkhags and has a number of ancient temples and sacred sites. Bumthang directly translates as “beautiful field”. “Thang” means field or flat place, and “Bum” is said be an abbreviation of “bumpa” (a vessel for holy water, thus describing the shape and nature of the valley).
Trongsa, means “new village” in Dzongkha. Trongsa Dzong, built in 1644, used to be the seat of power of the Wangchuck dynasty before becoming rulers of Bhutan in 1907. The dzong controlled east-west trade for centuries and the only road connecting eastern and western Bhutan before the advent of modern roads, passed through the courtyard of the dzong.
Punakha Dzong also known as the “Palace of Happiness”, is a massive structure at 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal it is 600 feet long and 240 feet wide, with a sprawling six-storeyed rectangular tower. Punakha Dzong is the most beautiful and well-known fortress connected with Bhutan’s historical traditions and houses sacred artifacts.
Thimphu is the capital and largest city of Bhutan. The city became the capital of Bhutan in 1961. The city is spread out longitudinally in a north-south direction on the west bank of the valley formed by the Wang Chuu, also known as the Thimphu Chuu.
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