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Taiwanese vision-impaired athletes embark on bike tour in U.S.

2012/07/14 16:29:10

San Diego, July 13 (CNA) Vision-impaired cyclists from Taiwan are participating for the first time in the Cycling for Sight event this weekend in California, hoping to make contacts with foreign vision-impaired cycling clubs.

One of seven Taiwanese athletes in San Diego, Chang Wen-yen said participating in the cycling event will give him and his teammates exposure to another sport as most of them usually compete in marathons.

Chang, known as Taiwan's Forrest Gump, was the first Taiwanese blind runner to complete a 42-kilometer marathon.

"I have cycled around Taiwan before and I rode 100 kilometers every day on the 11-day tour," Chang said. "In San Diego, it's the first time I'll ride 120 kilometers a day, so it's a very good opportunity for us to learn."

He also expressed the hope that the cycling clubs they meet in the United States will travel to Taiwan for the island's cycling event at the end of this year.

"I hope they can make the trip and 'appreciate' the beauty of Taiwan," Chang said.

At the annual event in San Diego, which began Friday and concludes Sunday, a coach pilots a tandem bike with a visually-impaired rider on the back seat.

Another of the participants, Lai Chih-chieh, told CNA that the roads along the California coast are straight, making the ride comfortable.

"I think it's pretty interesting to interact with the partner in the front seat," Lai said. He noted that he and his coach initially had trouble understanding each other because of the language barrier but the situation improved as they rode.

A total of 31 vision-impaired people will be riding with coaches along the Southern California coast and will make a turn in Irvine before returning to San Diego during the three-day tour, which will cover a total of 321 kilometers.

(By Oscar Wu and Nell Shen)