When Sangay and I were shouldered the prestigious responsibility to lead the group of young bikers for Bhutan Ride for Climate, we shared mixed feelings. I’ve biked all the motorable roads in this mountainous country and the Bhutanese roads are no child’s play.
Can the riders make it? How will the weather be, in the middle of monsoon season? Are our American riders acclimatized enough for the high Bhutanese mountain passes? Will our drivers give way to us? These questions clouded my mind. The expedition was taking place right in the middle of the monsoon and I was expecting some heavy downpour.
Every thing eased out as we started pedaling, like shifting the gears of a well lubed chain of a mountain bike. The day 1 ride in Paro was more like the first date of a newly met lover. It was an introduction of the riders to their bikes. Every rider was getting to know their bikes and trying hard to adjust to it.
Having Karl in the team was a blessing. As the only certified mechanic, he reassured the team, including me, on the mechanical maintenance of our bikes.
Nicky and Mara are great bikers. Just looking at them pedal made me feel so light and refreshed.
Amy from Nat Geo was a Bhutanese in American skin. Her compassion, patience, gentleness, and the concern for the young boys and girls in the team are something that even we Bhutanese can learn from.
Our Bhutanese boys and girls proved to be true ambassadors of the Dragon Kingdom. The songs we sang, the dances we danced, jokes we shared, up hills we sweated and the scars we bored are some of the memories that I’ll always cherish for the rest of my life.
Bhutan Ride for Climate was such an eye opener for me. As a tour organizer and a guide I’ve led many expeditions, travelled every corner of the country and I always thought I knew everything about my country; but this ride taught me that what I knew was only the surface.
I joined the expedition with the goal to contribute something to the team, but instead I’ve gained a lot from the members; I learned about climate change, team spirit, taking care of each other and knowing that no matter what skin color we have, deep inside we are all same and we share one concern.
The colors of our blood is red and climate change will put a threat to all our lives, whether we live in “city lights”, remote villages, hot deserts, cold mountains, or golden beaches.
“We could have saved the earth but we were too damned cheap” – Kurt Vonnegut.
Wangda Tobgyal (Bike leader) Bhutan Lakhor Tours &Treks.