Bhutan owns a place in the modern, Western psyche as a paradise, a hill-top nexus of happiness and nirvana.
It’s also big on bicycling, for a simple reason: It’s (former) king loves to pedal.
The New York Times caught up with the story over the weekend. It’s a nice pause in the day:
Somewhere along the way, the king took up bike riding. Bhutan may have been the last place on earth that the bicycle reached. (The country’s first paved road wasn’t built until 1962.) Today, though, bicycling culture is taking root in this unlikeliest of settings: a place of forbidding 10-percent grade climbs and rugged mud-and-rock-mottled roadways that challenge the sturdiest tires and suspension systems. Bhutan’s discovery of the bicycle is, on the one hand, on-trend: We are in the midst of a new bicycle boom, which is putting millions of new cyclists on the road and bringing cycling-promotion initiatives to the agendas of governments across the globe. But the bicycling movement in Bhutan is unique: a craze for the ultimate populist transportation machine that has been handed down from the palace to the grass roots. “There is a reason we in Bhutan like to cycle,” said Tshering Tobgay, the prime minister. “His Majesty the fourth king has been a cyclist, and after his abdication, he cycles a lot more. People love to see him cycle. And because he cycles, everybody in Bhutan wants to cycle, too.”
It also points out that all isn’t perfect there. There are a few very nice photos, too.
And this isn’t quite worth a full post, but ’tis new:
Posted by Steve