Thinley Namgay 

Completing the four stages of the race in 13 minutes (mins), and 14 seconds (secs), Binesh Thapa, 23, from Sarpang won the men’s elite category of the maiden day-long Enduro Mountain Bike Style Race at Sangaygang, Thimphu yesterday.

Tandin Wang Ghalley completed in 13 mins 29 secs stood  second, and Sonam Tenzin came third in 14 mins, 28 secs.

Enduro is a long-distance off-road bike race, typically over rough terrain, designed to test endurance.

Thirty-seven mountain bike enthusiasts from Thimphu, Paro and Wangduephodrang participated in the race. The race was conducted on four different trails located at Sangaygang.

Binesh Thapa said, “The race was competitive. I used to practise always and it could be a reason for the win. I am glad that my hardwork got rewarded.”

He said he would focus hereafter to compete in other countries. There are around 70 enduro enthusiasts in the country.

Binesh Thapa, winner of men’s elite category

The event organised by the Thimphu Mountain Biking Club members is to orient local riders with the Enduro Mountain Bike race format and to identify the best enduro mountain bike riders.

The programme is also to make bikers familiar with the upcoming first edition of the Asian Enduro Series in Punakha, which is expected to be conducted in December, next year.

The first edition of the Asian Enduro Series in Punakha was supposed to take place last year but had to postpone due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Participants were divided into six different categories: men elite advanced riders above 18 years; master A male riders between 30 and 39 years; master B male riders between 40 and 49 years; master C male riders above 50 years; women advanced and recreational female riders; and under 18 male riders.

In the master A category, Norbu finished in 17 mins, and 39 secs followed by Tshering Dendup in 18 mins, 48 secs and Leki Tshering in 18 mins, 51 secs.

Among master B group, Rigzin Chodra came first by completing the race in 18 mins 24 secs, while Phuntsho Gyeltshen Dorji stood second with 18 mins, 36 secs and Sangay Phuntsho came third with 19 mins, 5 secs.

Cash prizes were awarded for the elite men category and mountain biking accessories were given for other categories.

Druksel Wang Ghalley stood first in the male under 18 category. He finished the race in  16 mins,  6 secs.  Tandin Dorji stood second in 16 mins, 17 secs followed by Bishal Darjee in 17 mins, 17 secs.

In the master C category, there were only a few participants and a token of appreciation was given to one of the eldest riders.

In the women category, there was only one participant.

Bhutan Olympic Committee’s (BOC) programme officer  Jigme Thinley said, “It is different than the usual cycling race which happens on roads. This time we conducted at Sangaygang walking trails. We made the trails into various stages and we calculated the time.”

“This time we allowed all kinds of a cycle. In future, we will make some specifications,” he said.

Enduro is an adventurous sport and many say that Bhutan could be a perfect destination due to its ideal location. Bhutan has numerous nature trails in the mountain areas that don’t require a lot of maintenance for the enduro race.

Enduro started gaining momentum under the President of the BOC, His Royal Highness (HRH)  Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck. It was HRH who brought enduro to the country some seven years ago.

The best enduro spots in Thimphu are Phajoding, Sangaygang, Wangditse and Buddha Point, among others.