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Elderly scooter riders complete 1,250 km trip around Taiwan

2017/11/11 21:29:35

Taipei, Nov. 11 (CNA) A group of elderly scooter riders pulled up in front of Taichung City Hall on Saturday, ending a 1,250-kilometer ride around Taiwan after 11 days.

The 26 riders, ranging in age from 70 to 87, started the trip in Taichung on Nov. 1, riding counter-clockwise around the country through rain, strong winds and hilly country, according to the Hondao Senior Citizen's Welfare Foundation, which organized the event.

The eldest member of the group, 87-year-old Chou Pang (周邦), said that despite the challenges, the 1,250-kilometer ride created a lot of happy memories for him.

"I am aging every day, but I am happy every day," he said.

The most arduous part of the route was a 118-km stretch along the Suhua Highway between Yilan and Hualien, which hugs the cliffs of Taiwan's east coast, the foundation said.

When the riders passed through Taipei on the 11-day tour, they stopped at the Presidential Office to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who cheered them on, according to the foundation.

The riders also found comfort in the camaraderie among themselves, according to Tsai Jung-kun (蔡榮堃), 83, who said he used to drive around Taiwan with his wife every year until her death in May.

When his wife died, Tsai said, he fell into depression but managed to climb out of it during the scooter trip as he was chatting with other riders.

"I really missed the beautiful memories of driving around the country with my wife," said Tsai, whose son signed him up for the scooter ride.

When the riders stopped at Fulong Beach in New Taipei City, Tsai said, he drew a picture in the sand of himself and his wife.

The first scooter trip for elderly riders in Taiwan was organized in 2007 by the Hondao Senior Citizen's Welfare Foundation. The second such trip took place in 2011 and has been held each year since then.

The popular 2012 documentary film "Go Grandriders!" tells the story of 17 ailing octogenarians under the care of the foundation who undertake a scooter trip around Taiwan.

The documentary follows the group's 13-day journey and the hurdles they face along the way, such as adverse weather and poor health.

(By Christie Chen)