Fri, Aug 09, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Grandriders preparing for big US adventure

By Su Meng-chuan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Ten of the elderly bikers commemorated in the film Go, Grandriders (不老騎士-歐兜賣環台日記) are schedule to leave for the US on Thursday to participate in a motorcycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. It will be quite a trip for men whose biggest dream six years ago was to travel around Taiwan.

In 2007, 17 men — average age about 81 — made a 13-day, 1,178km round-island trip, despite the poor health of some and adverse weather. The story of their ride inspired many people, especially after it became the basis for a three-minute commercial created by Ogilvy Taiwan for TC Bank. The ad became a viral hit on YouTube, attracting more than 4.4 million hits — and the attention of US filmmaker and Discovery channel producer Peter Starr, as well as Taiwanese director Hua Tien-hao (華天灝).

Starr traveled to Taiwan in 2011 just to ride with some of the Grandriders, a 1,125km trip he recounted in Motorcyclist magazine in April last year. He had hoped to do a documentary about the men, but he shelved the plan after learning that Hua was already working on such a project.

Hua’s 90-minute documentary was released last year.

The Hondao Senior Citizens’ Welfare Foundation, which has coordinated the Grandriders’ trips in Taiwan, invited 10 of them to take part in a 700km California ride.

The group — accompanied by some US motorcycle enthusiasts averaging 55 years old — will visit elderly-care organizations along the ride, while Go Grandriders will be screened in San Francisco and Los Angeles, the foundation said.

Of the 10, only 77 year-old Chang Hung-tao (張弘道) — and his wife, Chang Chen Ying-mei (張陳映美) — have been to the US before. So the foundation recently held a meeting for the elderly riders so they could practice some basic English phrases, and have the chance to sample some typical American fast food: hamburgers, hotdogs and sodas.

“We hope this trip will show the international community the vitality of elderly Taiwanese,” the foundation said.

Ninety-four-year-old Chu Miao-kuei (朱妙貴), the leader of the group, said he has high expectations for the US trip. He said he started training by taking hour-long walks twice a day, in the morning and afternoons.

“As long as you dare to dream, age is not an issue,” Chu said.

Ninety-year-old Lai Hsiu-sheng (賴秀昇) said he is going despite a recent hip injury.

“Life is all about forging ahead toward goals in spite of hardship,” Lai said, adding that he is working closely with his doctor on rehabilitation to ensure he will be able to make the trip.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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