KAOHSIUNG, TAIWAN (BRAIN)—Andrew Lee is a barrel of a man. But that’s what happens when you lug camera equipment through 55 countries shooting film and photos for National Geographic.
Lee, who was recently in Beijing, is one of a crew of four—photographers and filmmakers—recording the A-Team’s progress around Taiwan. When the trip ends, they will compile a two-hour documentary in hopes of spurring more interest in cycling.
The crew, led by Frank Lai, 34, is up early and they finish late, filming everything from stowing bags in the bus to recording round after round of toasts as the riders end their day with a late evening meal.
Lai, a freelancer who hopes to work in Hollywood, said watching these businessmen—many of whom appear out of shape—ride through miles and miles of city streets and industrial zones, dodging scooters, cars and trucks is inspiring.
“I hope we can capture that spirit and show how this ride went. I can tell you, it’s not easy for some of them,” he said. With Wednesday’s temperatures soaring to 90+ degrees, and with humidity leaving riders bathed in sweat, Lai isn’t kidding.
Kaohsiung, home to more than 1.5 million people, is Taiwan’s second largest city and it’s main port. This is the heart of Taiwan’s industrial sector and the Love River, which empties into the harbor, slices the city in two. A long row of modern skyscrapers, apartments, restaurants and small businesses flank the river, giving the city—despite its industrial grit—a cosmopolitan flair.
Kenji Sugata, 39, has been a freelance photographer for years and spent one day as a temp helping film Charlie’s Angels in Long Beach, California. Sugata agreed with Lai’s assessment, nodding towards Daisuke Kobayashi, president and CEO of SR Suntour.
“He told me he was really hesitant about doing this ride, but he decided to do it anyway. You can see the confidence he’s gaining,” Sugata said. Kobayashi is 65 and said he hasn’t ridden a bicycle any distance since he was a child.
Part of the crew’s job is to help protect riders from the incessant swarm of scooters that dodge in and out of this rolling, ragged peloton like angry mosquitoes. The crew will drive their van in front of an intersection and temporarily block traffic—and they do that when the light is green.
Sugata, who once raced motorcycles until an accident shattered his thigh, grew up in Kawasaki, Japan, a city near Tokyo and home to Kawasaki motorcycles. He and Lee will occasionally position themselves in the middle of a street to grab a few photos. Trust me when I say that that’s a dicey way to get a photo. The van is rigged with webbing and the photographers clip themselves in with ‘biners so they can hang outside the van to shoot.
After Wednesday’s 85-kilometer ride, the A-Team’s next stop is Fong Harbor a resort city on the South China Sea.
Be sure to read two new A-Team profiles in Web Exclusive down below on the front page.