Taiwan’s Grand Riders

“I Didn’t Stop Riding Because I Got Old, I Got Old Because I Stopped Riding.”

By Peter Starr, Photography by Richard Greer

Following a departure ceremony, the 11 Grand Riders mounted their machines, and along with the 60 big-bike riders—30 of whom were carrying elderly passengers—set out with a police escort through the streets of Taitung into the tropical countryside along the east coast. There were no towns along the road that first day, but rather many small settlements and villages. The undulating pavement was very good for motorcyclists, offering a bounty of sweeping turns and great ocean views. The procession of scooters and Harleys wound their way north to the delight of the local inhabitants stationed along the way, waving their approval. Due to the reports in the newspapers and on television, everyone was aware of what was happening.

We ticked off about 100 miles a day, and spent the evenings in deep conversation about motorcycles, life and aging. After what was a beautiful, fulfilling-but-uneventful ride, everyone peeled-off into a parking lot at the AnTong Hot Spring Hotel in Yuli Township for a final meal and farewell ceremony. Unbeknownst to me, the Hondao Foundation had prepared a birthday cake and gifts for me, four days ahead of my actual birthday. All of the Grand Riders received a certificate of participation, which I was honored to present. Then the Harley passengers hugged their chauffeurs and everyone went their separate ways.

As I should have expected, this was more than a simple ride. It was a celebration of life, and of what life can be as we enter the autumn of our existence. The Hondao Foundation sets a wonderful example of taking the original impetus from the 17 Grand Riders and growing it with worthy affection so that the dream never gets old. I know firsthand the value of understanding that life is finite. And while we may not be able to relive our youth, there’s no reason we can’t continue to live youthfully.

Later this year, I intend to return to Taiwan to join the Grand Riders on their annual ride. I hope the 11 men I met in 2011 will again be there, and I am looking to take 10 Americans of appropriate age with me. What I experienced in Taiwan deserves to be shared, and the inspiration of the Grand Riders spread far and wide!

By Peter Starr
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