Back to list

Father of Japanese cyclist killed in accident attends race this year

2018/06/24 19:52:54

Ryoichi (front)/photo courtesy of Tzu Chi Foundation

Taipei, June 24 (CNA) The father of a Japanese cyclist, who was fatally struck by falling rocks during a mountain biking race in Taiwan last year, followed the competitors in this year's race on Sunday, cheering them on.

Holding a photo of his late son, the 68-year-old man named Ryoichi joined a motorcade that was accompanying the cyclists along a grueling 90 km route to an elevation of 3,275 meters in the eastern county of Hualien.

Ryoichi said he arrived in Taiwan on Friday and went to the site of the accident on Saturday to lay a wreath for his son Hiroyuki Shirai, who was killed by falling rocks on Sept. 9 last year during a practice ride in preparation for the Maxxis Taroko Climb Challenge.

Shirai's father attended the opening of the race this year at a school campus on the Hualien coast and carried his son's photo and competition number 221 on a bus along the route behind the competitors, passing through Taroko Gorge, Swallow Grotto Trail and the Tunnel of Nine Turns.

"Hiroyuki loved this beautiful island and will be rooting for everyone up there in heaven," Royichi said.

He said it was regretful that the international mountain biking race was canceled last year due to the death of his son and he encouraged the competitors this year to strive to reach the peak of Wuling, the highest point in the country accessible by road.

Using his son's camera, Royichi also took pictures of the cyclists in the race.

"I'm moved to tears" by the deep love shown by the father for his son, one of the competitors Liu Rui-chi (劉瑞祺) said.

The Maxxis Taroko Climb Challenge is the most challenging cycling race in Taiwan and one of the top 10 challenges on in the world. This year, it attracted 380 cyclists, including 35 foreign nationals, 20 of whom were from Japan.

(By Tyson Lu and Evelyn Kao)