CHANGHUA, TAIWAN (BRAIN)—When the A-Team, led by a police escort, rolled into the Merida factory late Monday a throng of employees chanted their approval, especially since Michael Tseng, their boss, was leading the pack which included the city’s mayor.
For Tseng and the other riders, it had been a long day that began under a torrential downpour and ended under dry but cloudy skies. That morning, A-Team members scrambled to put on rain jackets, arm and leg warmers and fasten a plastic shower cap to their helmets before setting out on the day’s 126-kilometer ride.
Streets were awash in flowing water and passing cars occasionally drenched them, but a remarkable tailwind—easily gusting above 20 mph—gave the cyclists a welcome shove. It was also a chance for employees from some of the companies with factories along this industrial corridor to show their support. Given the conditions, only one rider took a spill leaving him with a patch of raw skin on the knee.
For example, the A-Team’s first major stop was at Giant’s factory where King Liu, Giant’s chairman, welcomed each dripping rider with a handshake. Staff offered riders hot ginger tea, a local remedy to ward off the cold, as well as hot coffee and other beverages. That was followed by lunch at a nearby restaurant.
But it was Jagwire’s employees who surprised their boss, Jerry Huang, at an unplanned rest step. The Jagwire crew had created a map of Taiwan with photos of each rider arrayed around the island’s perimeter. Each A-Team member was asked to sign it as a souvenir for Huang. Along one section, employees from Velo, the saddle maker, lined the street urging on their boss, Stella Yu, as she rode past. Another impromptu group, waving Japanese flags, yelled their support for Mr. Kobayashi, president of Sun Tour.
As the ride neared Changhua, famous for its 300 ton Buddha at the Great Buddha Temple, employees from Merida—and the police escort—joined the ride leading the contingent to Changhua’s city hall. Brief speeches, more refreshments and more photos were taken before the riders could call it a day at the nearby Merida complex.
Be sure to read two new A-Team profiles in Web Exclusive down below on the front page.