HRH Prince Jigyel Wangchuck conceived the first Tour of the Dragon in 2009 as “a friendly group ride” with 23 of his cycling comrades – which included Tshering Tobgay, Bhutan’s current Prime Minister. Hailed by the New York Times as the “world’s toughest single-day bike race” the Tour of the Dragon is unlike any course on earth - with 166 miles of all-terrain, under-construction roads - more than 18,000 vertical feet of ascent, and then descent- with an average riding elevation over 5,000 feet, its easy to understand why locals call it ‘The Death Race.’ Throw in the risks of falling boulders, wild roaming animals, and riding through complete darkness – and it’s easy to see why so few choose to do it.
With a starting time of 2am, riders must complete in darkness for nearly 3 hours, using their own headlamps for illumination. Before crossing the finish line they will need to summit three mountain passes, over 10,000 feet each, which includes the final climb, know by locals as the “Neck of The Dragon” – a relentless 24- mile hill that climbs 6,000 vertical feet non-stop.
In short: The Tour of The Dragon is the most difficult one-day bike ride in the world – with less than 50 (TBC) riders having ever been able to conquer it.
In 2015, adventure travel filmmaker Ian Sullivan was granted exclusive access to interview HRH Prince Jigyel Wangchuck, to learn the original and untold story of how the started this competition.
Partnering with eco-documentary filmmaker Tim Gorski (Rattle The Cage Productions), OSullivan not only interviewed the royal prince, but he also finished the entire course on a borrowed bike while filming his journey using an iPhone 6.
Alternative Escapes and Rattle the Cage are currently searching for a production partner and sponsors to create a full-length documentary film on the upcoming Tour of the Dragon this September 5, 2016 in the Kingdom of Bhutan.