KEELUNG, Taiwan (BRAIN)—After a long day dodging heavy trucks, cars and scooters, the A-Team rolled through a half-dozen tunnels into Keelung, Taiwan’s second largest seaport, after 10 days of pedaling around the island.
The day’s 120-kilometer ride followed the heavily trafficked coastal highway into this city of more than a half-million people. Overall, the group has tallied almost 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) riding around this island nation.
Tomorrow, the riders pedal a final 30 kilometers into Taipei, officially ending the ride with a press conference and a lunch. Over the last few days, each time the cyclists clambered aboard the bus for dinner, they practiced a popular song extolling the virtues of friendship re-phrased to use wording about the A-Team. They plan to sing it at the mid-day press conference, which is expected to get heavy local coverage.
This 11-day trip—something none of these riders have ever done—ends on a high note. The group hoisted toast after toast throughout the evening, touting the success of their ride. Giant’s Tony Lo and A-Team chairman was warmly praised for his leadership and his decision to encourage the 32 A-Team members to take the challenge.
And for many it was a challenge. Pedaling through several days of torrential rain followed by days of tropical heat, unrelenting headwinds and stifling humidity is no small challenge no matter how fit you may be or you’re past cycling experience.
The A-Team will choose a new chairman in July to replace Lo, who has been a decisive and charismatic leader. Lo, who helped develop the concept of an A-Team and asked its members to adopt Toyota’s system of production, will leave on a high note. Several Toyota executives have been on the ride as well.
The export of Taiwan-made bicycles, primarily for specialty retail in North America and Europe has posted new highs since so much production moved to China in the 1990s. Several executives think that A-Team members may be producing between 15 and 20 percent of all IBD-quality bikes, components and accessories sold in the North America and Western Europe.
The question for members now is: What’s next? Michael Tseng, Merida’s president, is expected to be elected the next A-Team chairman. Almost all agree he would bring a different style to the organization than Lo’s.