Gelephu town is busy these days. If the place is already crowded with thousands of people attending the Nyingma Gyubum oral transmission, there are more coming for the Foothills Festival later this week.
More than 40 bikers, who registered for the 75kms cross-country cycling race in the upcoming festival, are in town. Kinley Tshering Wangchuk, 18, has reached on January 26. He is a class XII student of Thimphu.
He participated twice in a race DANTAK organised and twice in the Dragon’s Fury race. “I bagged the second position once,” he said, cleaning his bike.
Although the race is on January 30, he said most of the bikers are in Gelephu to acclimatise. “It is my first time competing in a race conducted at the foothills.”
Another biker, Wangchuk Namgay, has participated in the race last year and he is eyeing to complete the race in the top three positions. The class X student of Dashiding in Punakha came fifth last year. He claimed he won many races before, including the DANTAK race and another race organised by Druk Events in Paro. He even completed the Tour of the Dragon race in 13th position.
“His Majesty The King granted me a bike as a soelra when I won a race in an open category. That motivated me to take cycling more seriously,” he said.
A Punakha resident, Sonam, is sponsoring his race.
The owner of K Bike Shop in Thimphu, Phurpa Dorji Lama, who provides bike maintenance service, came to Gelephu on January 20. He provided the service last year and made a profit of about Nu 25,000. “I don’t think I will make any profit this year, as there are only four local participants.”
He said he doesn’t charge for the services from people coming from other dzongkhags to encourage them to travel to Sarpang to participate in the race. “I sell the bike accessories if their bikes get damaged while practising.”
Meanwhile, Sarpang dzongdag Karma Galay said the festival, scheduled for January 29 and 30 is expected to promote agriculture, horticulture and livestock products from the 12 gewogs.
Farmers from the gewogs would be competing on farm, livestock and food products.
He said although Sarpang is feasible for winter farming, not many farmers take it up. “This festival is expected to bring farmers and vendors together.”
The dzongdag said the dzongkhag has people from diverse background and this festival is to celebrate the diversity. People from all dzongkhags have resettled in the dzongkhag.
The dzongkhag earned about Nu 4 million (M) from the festival last year and they expect to earn about Nu 10M this year. “It was a success last year and we hope it would be more successful this year,” said the dzongdag
The event will be held in Sarpang High School ground and dzongkhag officials and scout members are busy preparing for the event. There would be more than 35 stalls for farmers to display their crop and livestock products.
There would be cultural shows, adventure and sports like marathons. “We have our own ‘nyagoe’ competition, which has farming activities. They will carry firewood in traditional way and water, and measure rice,” dzongdag Karma Galay said. “There would be obstacles too.”
He said the competition is not only aimed at testing the strength but also efficiency.
Tashi Dema | Gelephu