Born in November 1977, Sonam is the youngest of five siblings and comes from Kyichu village in Paro. The son of a village farmer, he spent his early childhood in Paro and went to school there. In 1999, he joined the Royal Body Guards and served for 3 years. The years from 2003 to 2005 were spent with his parents in Kyichu, where he helped his family by driving a family owned taxi.
He joined his present job as driver at Aman Resorts in 2005.
Sonam first learnt to ride a cycle as a schoolboy on a friend’s basic bicycle that did not have any gears but a chain that kept slipping. Later in 2010, Sonam was inspired when another friend and colleague participated and completed the inaugural 268km Tour of the Dragon race. With encouragement from this friend, Sonam ended up buying his first bicycle in December the same year – a second hand Gary Fischer Trek mountain bike.
Sonam’s first race – the 2011 Kabisa Cross Country in Thimphu(58 km) where he trained for 10 days and finished 8th out of 50 riders was the ideal motivation he needed. He prepared harder for his second competitive event – the first Dantak Race (Thimphu – Paro – Thimphu 100km), and won. With the first two results behind him and confidence gained, Sonam registered for the Tour of the Dragon in the same year (2011) and surprised himself by finishing second ahead of several international riders who labeled this race “the toughest mountain bike race in the world”.
In 2012, Sonam shattered the Haa Festival race’s record by 30 minutes, completing its 83km course in just 3h 5mins. Motivated more than ever, Sonam took part in the 2012 Tour of the Dragon, and won in 11 hours despite a horrific crash in rainy conditions on a treacherous section midway through the race.
In 2013, he successfully defended his Tour of the Dragon title though it took him 13 minutes more than his previous time. Poor visibility, weather and bad road conditions saw him lose 33 minutes from his previous time in the first half of the race. He eventually regained 19 minutes in the final sectors of the race.
With his second consecutive win of the Tour of the Dragon, Sonam is endearingly called “Son of the Dragon”. His many victories have earned him many individual international sponsors, and he has come to the notice of some international teams who are still in touch with him. He was sponsored to compete in an individual event at Colorado earlier this year but unfortunately missed the event because of the prolonged visa process at New Delhi.
On 06 September this year, Sonam will be attempting his third consecutive Tour of the Dragon title and Bhutan Travel Bureau are proud to support Sonam in his title defense and hat trick attempt.