Bhutan, also known as The Land of the Thunder Dragon is gearing up for this year’s fourth annual, and aptly named, “Tour of the Dragon” mountain bike race. On September 7, 2013 cyclists from all four corners of the world will take on approximately 166-miles of rugged terrain, changing altitudes, and breathtaking surroundings during this one-day race through the most natural and untouched geographical settings.
Many of Bhutan’s tour operators will offer race participants multiday packages both for riders and spectators looking to make their trip to the country a worthwhile spiritual journey. Visitors will experience a place deeply rooted in history, where the preservation of its rich and unique culture has been the focus of its people – religious festivals, a decadent cuisine, and a diverse population will welcome its guests.
Starting in the centrally located district of Bumthang, the event – seen as one of the world’s most extreme one-day races – 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 that is truly challenging, but also the high elevation and the extreme variations of altitude: the 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.
During their crossing of the Inner Himalayas of Bhutan, riders will witness picturesque views of pristine natural settings, including some of the last virgin forest in the world, an untouched ecosystem stretching across the horizon, and the world’s highest peaks – a once in a lifetime, unforgettable experience for all participants. As in previous years, the race has been conceived by His Royal Highness, Prince Jigyel U. Wangchuck, President of the Bhutan Olympic Committee and one of the few biking enthusiasts who have completed the race in record time.