Bhutan’s Tour of the Dragon through the lens of director Justin Bastien
Dive into the journey of the world’s toughest mountain bike race
HANAH is proud to share Bhutan's annual mountain bike race Tour of the Dragon through the lens of photographer and director Justin Bastien and his film team. They joined HANAH founder Joel Einhorn to film and photograph what has been dubbed "the hardest one day mountain bike race" that also happens to take place in one of the most exclusive and well-protected travel destinations in the world. Located in the eastern Himalayas, the country of Bhutan is a destination for adventure, nature, cultural exploration and spiritual growth.
The race was full of magical moments, not limited to the efforts of His Royal Highness, the Bhutan Olympic Committee, Tour of the Dragon, and over 1,200 volunteers that made the journey special.
The race covers 268 kilometers (166 miles) of stunning Himalayan landscapes as it takes cyclists from central to western Bhutan. It starts in Bumthang town square and travels over four Himalayan mountain passes before finishing in Thimphu town square. Bikers traverse indomitable mountains, travel through pristine virgin forests, over babbling streams and raging rivers. The race covers elevations ranging from 1,200 - 3,340 meters (3,900 - 11,000 feet), with over 15,000 vertical feet of climbing.
Bhutan may be best known for creating “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) as the official index to measure the country’s prosperity and quality of life, instead of gross domestic product (GDP). Bhutan’s GNH is based on four pillars: good governance, sustainable socioeconomic development, environmental conservation, and the promotion and preservation of culture. Part of Bhutan’s philosophy champions a healthy, active lifestyle for its citizens, so in 2009, His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, president of the Bhutan Olympic committee, started the Tour of the Dragon to encourage its own citizens to get outside and ride bikes, and share some of Bhutan’s stunning countryside with visitors.Dive into the journey with the video from the 2018 Tour of the Dragon… and consider signing up for the 11th edition in 2020!
Behind the scenes: Justin Bastien in Bhutan for theTour of the Dragon
We couldn’t have said it better than director of photography Justin Bastien about his experience filming Bhutan’s Tour of the Dragon mountain bike race, so here you go:
“Some fun behind the scene action from filming and photographing The Tour of the Dragon Race 🐲🚲 in Bhutan this year. What a wild ride that trip was. Riding through the Himalayan mountain passes, road slides, steep cliffs, dodging cows, large dump trucks, mud, cold rain, steaming hot rivers valleys, beautiful Buddhist temples that remind us that suffering is part of life, especially on race day. The Dragon dishes out good stuff along the way. Thanks to the entire team that helped make all of this come together and the amazing music.”
Learn more about Justin
Justin Bastien is not your average director and photographer – he isn’t even your typical human being. His tales of travel and adventure will leave you in awe, and maybe even a little bit jealous.
Catching him in a moment of stillness is a rarity. When he is not working a job you can find him deep water soloing in New Zealand, catching waves off the coast of Chile, or camping out of his van while rock climbing in Joshua Tree.
Justin’s wanderlust has led him to photography where he captures his incredible adventures so that he can share them with others. To him, photography has been a platform for seeing the world, meeting new people, and of course having fun. Like all his other pursuits, photography became a new terrain in which to expand his knowledge. Justin never does anything half-heartedly. He absorbs everything he can to create something new.
The self-proclaimed vagabond does it all. He is a photographer, director and has even been known to step in front of the lens himself. Moving or still, Justin’s work draws you along on his remarkable adventures and makes you feel as if you are right there with him. Impossible does not deter him from a job, if anything it attracts him even more.
If you meet Justin, you will find a talented and humble man. His positivity and passion for life are contagious. With one photo he can inspire you to pack a bag and to travel to exotic destinations. In any case, make sure you have some time to listen to his stories. You will not regret it. Give him a follow on IG.
Make sure you check out these other Tour of the Dragon related blogs to learn more:
- Traditional Bhutanese Yak Butter tea
- Prepping for Bhutan's Tour of the Dragon mountain bike race (Part 1 of 3)
- HANAH ventures deep into Bhutan for the Tour of the Dragon mountain bike race (Part 2 of 3)
- The Tour of the Dragon begins (Part 3 of 3)
- Tour of the Dragon—the toughest mountain biking race you’ve never heard of
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