TAINAN, TAIWAN (BRAIN)—They say an army moves on its stomach. And so does the A-Team. No better example of what keeps a group of Taiwanese businessmen moving is turkey-rice. After some 70 kilometers of riding, the A-Team pulled into the Fountain Restaurant in Jia-yie, a town along the way. It was a bit past noon.
Turkey-rice, as they call it, is a bowl of rice topped with strips of turkey—fat and all. The rice is drenched in juice. And it’s delicious. Another way of describing the A-Team’s Tour de Taiwan is a Tour de Gastronomy—an opportunity to dine on some of the finest traditional Taiwanese food on the island. If you’re a finicky eater, this is a ride you would want to skip.
Bob Margevicius, a vice president at Specialized, described Tuesday’s lunch stop as an unlikely dining experience for most Americans—even seasoned travelers. It’s family style with a variety of dishes that one can only guess at the contents. Chunks of radish, for instance, look like chunks of potato only slightly off color. And there seems to be dozens of ways to prepare eel, mussels and other delicacies.
The Fountain Restaurant, at least when looking at it from the street, could be any local eatery that’s one step up from a fast food dive. Inside, cheap wooden stools surround round tables, the floor is linoleum, and off to one side is a soft-drink dispenser typically found at a McDonald’s. But the Fountain serves turkey-rice and it’s famous for it in this industrial city—one of many—that line the western side of Taiwan.
No one’s quite sure how turkeys got to Taiwan, but they are here in abundance as bowl after bowl of turkey-rice gets passed around. Many Taiwanese companies are helping to host the tour by providing lunch or dinner for the cyclists.
Tuesday night, Charlie Yu, who owns KMC, an OE supplier of bicycle chains, hosted a dinner at Mr. Chiu’s Restaurant in downtown Tainan where it is well known for its fried shrimp rolls and eel noodle soup. Dinner includes wine, beer as well as bourbon.
But the tour is also a chance for many bicycle company employees to see their bosses decked out in cycling apparel riding a bike. Fireworks, songs and chants greeted riders as they made a quick stop at the Kenda factory and again at Alex rims where employees there served up bowls of iced mango, a local favorite.
It’s fair to say that most members of the A-Team are businessmen first and few have ridden a bike any distance—much less 140 kilometers in a day. To say that they are proud of their achievement would be an understatement.
While most trained at some level for the ride, few use clipless pedals and some are learning what knee pain means. Seat heights are off and saddles aren’t quite right. But as Margevicius said: “They are really showing some courage on this ride.”
Be sure to read two new A-Team profiles in Web Exclusive down below on the front page.