Fitness: Alongside the ever growing imports of vehicles, is another trend that is emerging.

The age old fashion of riding bicycles is being revived by the youth and the middle-aged.

Although the new hobby is mostly limited to the elite for now, the trend is on the rise especially in Thimphu.

Cycling is popular with the youth and some of the office goers. People who can afford to purchase a mountain bike, ride for all kinds of reasons, health and recreation being the chief purposes.

A corporate employee, Tshering Dorji rides his bike to office regularly. The 26-year-old recently bought a mountain bike after spending a fortune on it. “It’s been exactly three months since I bought this bike from one of the stores in Thimphu. It’s comfortable and the design is not so bad also,” Tshering said. “I lost five kilograms in three months. I feel healthier than ever.”

Like Tshering Dorji, Tour of the Dragon racer and multiple winner, Sonam Tshering, is a regular biker. Sonam has initiated an evening biking activity with a group of biking enthusiasts in Thimphu.

Initiated with the aim of getting youth to indulge in a healthy activity rather than antisocial activities, Sonam said that he has received only positive responses so far.

“During my training in Colorado, we used to have a night riding session, similar to this. I thought implementing the idea in Thimphu would be a good experience because of the growing biking trend and it also adds rapid riding skills and experience simultaneously,” Sonam said.

The night ride session that began in early May this year started with a few riders. Since then, the session that is conducted every Friday and has been receiving a good number of riders every week including students and office goers.

“The maximum number of riders we had till date is seven, which is a good number for the ride,” said Sonam. “Most of them have their own bikes and for those who are interested but don’t have a ride, we manage for them but not always,” added Sonam.

Sangay Penjor a student of Yangchenphu Higher Secondary School who participated in few of the rides said that it has been a “wonderful” experience to ride with some of the experienced bikers. “The ride through the Buddha Point trail was thrilling. The cold breeze blowing through the narrow edge of the trail was scary but at the same time fulfilling,” he said.

However, this hobby of cycling comes at a very high price. There are about seven stores in Thimphu that deals with the selling of mountain bikes. The price of the bikes range from Nu 35,000 to Nu 39,000.

The owner of Champay enterprise, one of the stores that deals with mountain bikes in Thimphu said that besides the high price of the bikes, individuals still buy it. “Usually it’s the office goers and a few students who buy from us,” the owner said. “It’s a good business and its picking up rapidly.”

Besides the high monetary aspect to the hobby, cycling is confronted with challenges like roadside accidents and safety is one of the biggest concerns associated with the growing trend.

Although there are designated cycling tracks along the highways in Thimphu, people hardly use them. Most of the bikers are seen using either the main road or the footpath that are meant for people to walk.

Many biking trails in Thimphu have also come up following this growing trend. Most of the trails are located in the mountains, away from busy traffic in the town. There are eight biking trails in Thimphu only.

 Younten Tshedup