Eight people from Taiwan -- with an average age of less than 30 -- are set to embark on a four-month expedition next Sunday from Beijing to Paris on modified bicycles to promote environmental awareness and the idea of a "Car-free Asia."
A brief ceremony was held yesterday at the main gate of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall to mark the launch of the trip.
"This event will draw attention to the most important environmental protection issue, which is climate change," Canadian musician Matthew Lien said.
"If we don't change the way we live, we are going to have a memorial hall for the lives we have taken from the world," he said.
The eight bikers will join forces with two biking enthusiasts from China and another two from Australia and New Zealand next Sunday. Together they will depart from Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
Wu Yi-ting (吳懿婷), one of the co-founders of the Beijing to Paris Carfree Asia Tour, said that the tour had historical significance.
"A hundred years ago, three Italians replied to a newspaper ad and managed to drive a car from Beijing to Paris within two months. That particular road trip changed human history, and after that cars became a major form of transportation," Wu said.
"This trip [Carfree Asia Tour] will use no motor vehicles and aims to usher in a new future for transportation," she added.
Wu and her partner Olly Powell have split the marathon journey into three routes. The first one enter Eurasia by riding across Siberia before passing through Scandinavia, then heading south through Germany and finishing in Paris.
Only one cyclist will embark upon this route.
Bikers on the second route will ride along the Silk Road through China's Xinjiang Province. From there, they will continue their way through Kazakhstan, Russia, Finland and Switzerland before eventually arriving in Paris.
The third route will lead bikers through Xinjiang Province, from where they will ride through Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan before entering Russia. From there they will ride on through Ukraine, Poland and Germany before arriving in Paris.
Wu and Powell will join the third route, whereas the remaining five bikers will join the second route.
During the tour, bikers will also keep an electronic journal to provide on-site reports on the environments they have witnessed along the journey.