Sun, Jul 04, 2004 - Page 18 News List

Cycling around Taiwan takes a lot of heart

An international group of four cyclists will attempt to circumnavigate Taiwan later this month in a muscle-cramping and sweat-inducing attempt to raise NT$3 million for the Red Heart Association

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Three members of the international "Cycle with Your Heart" team pose with Warren Huang, director of the Red Heart Association, shown at left. Standing next to Huang, from left to right, are Toby Wilsdon, Nakajima Kensaku and Henry Badenhorst, Along with Huang Jin-bao, the team hopes to circumnavigate Taiwan in 10 days and raise NT$3 million for the association.

PHOTO: GAVIN PHIPPS, TAIPEI TIMES

On July 15, British national Toby Wilsdon, South African native Henry Badenhorst, Japan's Nakajima Kensaku and Taiwan's Huang Jin-bao (黃進寶) will set out on a 10-day, 950km cycle ride journey around Taiwan that will see them passing through nearly all of the nation's major metropolises, over 100 towns and traversing the highways and byways of all but three counties.

Dubbed "Cycle with Your Heart" the aim of the marathon cycle expedition is to raise NT$3 million for the Red Heart Association (中華民國紅心字會).

Established in 1988, the Red Heart Association is a government-subsidized body that deals with a wide range of social problems that effect disadvantaged groups and individuals. It gives financial, legal and educational support to single parent families, the elderly, the handicapped and the families of prisoners.

The non-profit organization receives roughly NT$21million from the government annually, but lacks an estimated NT$8million per annum to deal with its ever-increasing caseload. While the association holds regular fund-raising events, the up-coming venture is the largest event the association has been involved with.

"We hold activities to raise extra money every year, but compared to the cycle trip, these are very small-scale and private events," said association director, Warren Huang (黃萬福). "We've never been involved with anything on this scale before and have certainly never attempted to raise such a substantial amount of money at one time."

All the participating cyclists have extensive experience with long-distance touring. Between them they've cycled well over 40,000km and taken in the scenery of four continents.

Two years ago Wilsdon completed a trip that took him from the UK to Singapore, Kensaku has circumnavigated Hokkaido twice and Badenhorst has undertaken cycling tours of South Africa's Mpumalanga Province.

The most traveled of the group, however, is Huang, who along with his wife and two teenage sons, began a 23,600km global trek in July 2002 and arrived home 13 months later. The adventure put them in the record books as the first, and only Taiwanese family to have cycled around the world.

"We've all had different experiences and toured in different places, but I'm sure we'll come together as a team and I'm confident these experiences will enable us to complete the trip," said Wilsdon. "It's obviously great to have [Huang] onboard both for his knowledge in planning the route and to make it a truly international team."

Huang, who only joined the team at the last minute, and his extensive cycling experience both in Taiwan and abroad have already proven to be invaluable. The round-the-world cyclist has been instrumental in planning the team's route and setting the pace.

"I looked at a few maps, but finding one with enough detail was very difficult. None of the maps I found had enough information for us to plan an exact route," said Wilsdon. "Huang joined the team, though, and he had plenty of detailed maps and was more than happy to devise the route and set the time frame."

Wilsdon's original estimate for completion was 15 days, based on information taken from his less-than-exact maps. This was quickly revised by Huang, who, along with resetting the timeframe to 10 or 11 days, also produced a detailed daily schedule that plotted everything from distances to exact "in saddle" times.

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