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May 29, 2017

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US 'Grandriders' embark on weeklong ride across island

TAICHUNG-- A group of 10 American motorcyclists embarked on a weeklong "dream ride" around Taiwan on Tuesday, aiming to spread the spirit that people are never too old to realize their dreams.

Headed by well-known documentary filmmaker Peter Starr, the group set off on a 500-kilometer-plus ride from Taichung early Tuesday morning.

"I came over here a year ago based on seeing a video," Starr said before the ride. "I was so impressed with everything that happened, not only with the riders and the ride, but the people of Taiwan generally."

Starr, who came to Taiwan and took a 1,100-kilometer ride around the island then, said he hopes to increase the level of communication between Taiwanese and American riders.

"I think we're gonna have a great time," he said with a smile.

Of the 10 American riders, five are over 65 years old and the average age of the whole group is 72. The eldest of the 10 American riders is Gerald Larson, 79, who said the trip will be a great way to commemorate his 80th birthday on Oct. 19.

"The (Taiwanese) Grandriders epitomize the dreams and the energy of seniors," said Larson. "It's a great pleasure and honor to be with them."

The American riders will take a shorter route, heading south to Chiayi County and the Alishan mountain resort before turning east to Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County and then to Hualien and Yilan counties in Eastern Taiwan. Their route will then wind from Yilan County back to Taipei on Oct. 22.

Starr said the trip was organized to pay tribute to Taiwan's "Grandriders," the group of elderly motorbike enthusiasts who inspired him and other American motorcyclists to pursue of their dreams.

An editor at Motorcyclist Magazine and a producer at Discovery Channel, Starr visited Taiwan last year to interview the Taiwanese "Grandriders," who became well known after a video of their trip around Taiwan was posted on YouTube.

Five years ago, the 17 people, average age 81, embarked on a 1,178-kilometer journey around Taiwan by motorcycle to fulfill their dream of seeing every part of the country.

This year, their adventure was made into a 90-minute film "Go Grandriders," which has taken in NT$4 million (US$136,910) at the box office so far, according to the film company.

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