Thinley Namgay   

After debuting in the 268km Tour of the Dragon (ToD) in 2019, Chimi Dema easily cruised to the finish line of the 100km Black Mountain Cycling Challenge on October 2. She touched the finish line in 4hrs, 17mins and 32secs.   

A regular participant at the major marathon events in the country, Chimi, 25, was the first female local cyclist to compete in the ToD.

Chimi works at the Digital Kidu office in Thimphu and has been cycling for the past eight years.

“If we are physically fit, we can be mentally competent. Cycling is good to keep our body healthy,” she said.

She said that there were only a few women cyclists in the country and having such a competition would encourage more. “If I can do it, why can’t other girls? They should try as there is equal opportunity.”

“I was fascinated by the management of the race. First aid team and other necessary arrangements are all in place,” said Chimi Dema.

Tshering Dendup

Finishing the race in 4hrs, 55mins and 22secs, Tshering Dema, also 25, came second.  She is from Paro and currently works as a referee with Bhutan Football Federation.   

In third place, Tsheten Denkar completed in 5hrs, 4 mins and 59secs.  Tsheten is from Chukha and works in a private firm.

A total of 78 cyclists including 10 women participated. 

In the men’s category, cyclists from the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) dominated the first edition of the 100km race. They took the first four places. 

Wangdue RBA’s Tshering Dendup, 36, stood first after completing the race in 3hrs, 4 mins and 23secs. He is from Radhi, Trashigang.  

Tshering Dendup stood ninth in the 2019 ToD between Bumthang and Thimphu. He said, “We are attaching importance to cycling today.  Due to the pandemic, I couldn’t train well for the last two years.”

“I am delighted this time. I didn’t expect this result. My goal was to be in the top five,” he said. 

He began his cycling in his early 30s and is one of the top cyclists in the country today.

He said that he didn’t face any challenges owing to his stamina and confidence.

“For such a competition, we need a good cycle which costs more than Nu 200,000. It is expensive for many but we should not stop cycling thinking that it is costly,” Tshering Dendup said.

Tshering Dendup was closely followed by Sherab Gyeltshen, 29, from Trashigang who completed the contest in 3 hrs, 6mins and 13secs. Norbu finished third with 3hrs, 9mins and 37secs.     

In both categories, the winners were awarded a cycle worth Nu 76,000 and cash prizes of Nu 30,000 each.

The runners-up were given a cycle worth Nu 46,000 and cash prizes of Nu 15,000 each. The third position took home Nu 40,000 each.

The youngest participant was Chimi Norbu, 14. He said that he was satisfied since he was able to compete with adults.

“It’s a big thing for me. It was tiring but I was optimistic to finish the race,” he said.  

The class VIII student of Wangdicholing LSS in Bumthang said that he would practice more and return stronger next year.

Meanwhile, there were no international participants in the race besides the two foreigners who worked in the country.

The race was mainly to boost the local economy and entertain locals and visitors besides promoting a healthy lifestyle.