Tue, Oct 23, 2012 - Page 4 News List

US bikers follow Grandriders’ trip

AGE IS BUT A NUMBER:The US motorcyclists were so inspired by a nationwide trip the now-famous group of elderly Taiwanese made, that they had to replicate it

Staff writer, with CNA

A group of 10 US motorcyclists yesterday concluded a week-long “dream ride” to scenic spots around the nation, saying that they are already looking forward to planning another trip next year.

Led by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Peter Starr, the group set off from Greater Taichung on Tuesday last week, heading south to Chiayi County and the Alishan (阿里山) Resort before turning east to Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) in Nantou County and then to Hualien and Yilan counties.

The 10 riders, of which five are more than 65 years old, arrived in Taipei yesterday morning, concluding their more than 500km journey.

“We have seen so much of the beauty of Taiwan and even more importantly, we have met so many wonderful Taiwanese that have helped us every step of the way,” said Gerald Larson, who celebrated his 80th birthday during the trip.

The riders said that when they get home, they would like to spread the spirit of compassion and teach people to be more considerate to the elderly, like the Hondao Senior Citizen’s Welfare Foundation, the tour’s organizer, does in Taiwan.

In order to help spread the message, Starr said he is considering setting up an English version of a fan page on Facebook, to make more people aware of the issue and encourage more elderly people to realize their dreams.

The trip was Starr’s third visit to Taiwan. The 70-year-old said he learns a little more about Taiwanese culture with each trip and is deeply impressed by Taiwanese.

Asked if he and the other riders ever felt tired during the trip, Starr said the energy around them carried them through the tough parts.

“It’s like we absorbed it by osmosis. We were very energized,” he added.

“We came here to honor the original ‘Grandriders.’ We came to spread our love, honor and respect, but what happened is that we received it instead,” Starr said, referring to the warm reception from both the public and the press.

An editor at Motorcyclist Magazine, Starr visited Taiwan last year to interview the Taiwanese “Grandriders,” a group of 17 elderly motorbike enthusiasts, who inspired people both at home and abroad to pursue their dreams after a video of their trip around the country was posted on YouTube.

Five years ago, the riders, who had an average age of 81, embarked on a 1,178km journey around Taiwan by motorcycle to fulfill their dream of seeing every part of the country.

Their adventure was made into a 90-minute documentary film called Go Grandriders (不老騎士) that has raked in NT$11.6 million (US$396,600) since its release on Oct. 12, according to the production company behind it.

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