Wed, Apr 15, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Hundreds register for annual east coast cycling event

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cyclists from around the world will gather on the east coast next weekend for this year’s Taiwan Cycling Club National Championship.

The race, also known as the Tour of the East Coast, has been held annually since 2001. It has over time become more than a race, combining cycling and tourism.

Ho Li-chin (何麗卿), secretary-general of the Taiwan Cycling Federation, said 1,500 cyclists had registered for the two-day event, which starts on April 25.

Ho said athletes would bike approximately 300km.

The race has attracted cyclists from Japan, Spain, the Netherlands, the US, New Zealand, Canada and Hong Kong, she said.

The federation has also arranged a 380km two-day bike ride that is more challenging and is not a competition. The cyclists will ride between Hualien and Taitung County’s Chihpen Township (知本) on highways Nos. 11 and 9.

The route will take at least seven hours per day, Ho said.

Ho said American Institute in Taiwan Director Stephen Young would participate again this year, together with friends from abroad.

Meanwhile, cycling clubs from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and Gigabyte Technology are registered to take part in the 380km ride.

Ho said all the hotels in Taitung were booked because of the 300km race, so they had decided to extend the more challenging ride to 380km so that participants could stay in hotels in Chihpen.

For cyclists not up to the race or 380km challenge, scenic tours have been plotted out by the Sports Affairs Council for next weekend. Cyclists can either start from Chisingtan (七星潭) and Liyutan (鯉魚潭) in Hualien County or Chishang (池上) and Yuli (玉里) in Taitung.

Meanwhile, Council Minister Tai Hsia-ling (戴遐齡) said yesterday that the government had completed 846km of bike routes countrywide. The council plans to construct another 1,500km of bike routes in 17 networks over the next four years, Tai said.

In related news, Giant Taiwan sales president John Ho (何友仁) confirmed yesterday that the nation’s largest bike manufacturer would soon open a travel agency offering bike tours.

“We are applying for a license from the Tourism Bureau to open a travel agency, which could be launched by the end of the next month,” Ho said.

Giant currently cooperates with Lion Travel (雄獅旅遊) to offer tours.

Ho said the company would offer bike tours both within Taiwan and abroad and aim to attract overseas cyclists as well.

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