Madman Trails Of Bhutan

A VISUAL NARRATIVE

By Scott Secco

As the plane glides over the Eastern Himalayan ranges and starts its descent through the clouds, entering Paro airport, the team on board sense that the adventure has already begun. The plane then makes an exhilarating entry onto the runway flanked by lush paddy fields.

At the invitation of His Royal Highness, Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, founder of Bhutan Philanthropy Ventures Private Limited (BPV), a commercially operating social enterprise founded to sustain the philanthropic activities of the Tarayana Foundation, organized a visit for Wyn Masters, Cody Kelley, Florent Poilane and film maker Scott Secco. The four travelled from 3 different continents to test some of the hitherto uncharted routes that the BPV intends to offer as part of a phenomenal mountain biking tour package under the Prince’s direction.

Madman Trails of Bhutan
Madman Trails of Bhutan

As they ride their way from the capital city of Thimphu towards the Madman Trails in Punakha, a panoramic view of some of the tallest mountains in the country opens up at the Dochula mountain pass (3100m ASL).

Madman Trails of Bhutan

The crew then drop down the misty rhododendron forest following local pinner, Tandin “Junior” Wang, to reach the subtropical valley of Punakha.

Madman Trails of Bhutan

This is one for the memory book. Without any warning or warm-up, “Junior” two-wheel drifts his way around the very first berm of the 10km descent.

Madman Trails of Bhutan
Madman Trails of Bhutan

After shuttling to Limbukha, the Madman Trail of Punakha is up next. At an elevation drop of over 1000m, this is a network of both natural and hand-carved trails running through a mix of pine and oak forests. It is here that Bhutan will host its first Asian Enduro Series from 5th to 6th of December 2020.

Madman Trails of Bhutan

From Limbukha, the filming team along with what looks like the whole Bhutanese enduro scene drop into a series of high-speed berms and jumps on grounds carpeted with oak leaves, along a progressively changing terrain.

Madman Trails of Bhutan
Madman Trails of Bhutan

Ride over the longest suspended bridge in Bhutan, chill by the river next to the stunning Punakha Dzong enjoying local delicacies like the Ema Datshi or Phaksha Paa and it’s time to hop back in the truck for another lap!

Madman Trails of Bhutan

After couple of days of pure riding, the team decides that the glacial valley of Phobjikha is the next stopover, winter home to the endangered Black-necked cranes. In fact, with more than 70 percent of Bhutan’s land area forested, the nation is among the top ten biodiversity hotspots in the world.

Madman Trails of Bhutan
Madman Trails of Bhutan
Madman Trails of Bhutan

Back in Paro, where the trip started, the local crew had kept cards up their sleeves. Wyn, Cody and Florent are not quite done yet… Time to descend 1200m into and out of alpine forests on both sides of the valley, riding consecutively through the Jela and Kila Goenpa trails—two world-class and completely natural single-track trails.

Madman Trails of Bhutan

The riders’ giggles and shouts of joy and excitement still resound through the valley. Everyone is left with a feel that 7 days is barely enough to scratch the surface of the mountain-biking potential in Bhutan.

Madman Trails of Bhutan
Madman Trails of Bhutan

The perfect moment and perfect place for them to meditate and reflect on the adventure they had just lived – an experience which can only be realized through the seamless travel arrangement and meticulous coordination between the Bhutan Philanthropy Ventures and the Bhutan Olympic Committee which spearheads the foundation for sustainable network of Enduro (MTB) development in Bhutan.

For the visiting team of riders, the sacred land of Bhutan is one of the world’s last frontiers. With myths, legends and spirituality all at once ever-present and still integral to the psyche of local communities, it seems to illustrate the delicate balance between old-world tradition with 21st century modernity and its associated hyper-consumerism. Certainly, with its philosophy of GNH philosophy Bhutan is striving to find the right balance.

Madman Trails of Bhutan
Madman Trails of Bhutan
Madman Trails of Bhutan

For more information about the Madman Trails of Bhutan, the inaugural Asian Enduro series in Bhutan taking place in December 5th to 6th 2020 and MTB tour packages, please contact Mr. Karma Dorji, email: karma@bpvbhutan.com or visit our website madmantrails.com / www.bpvbhutan.com/mtb