SAN JOSE -- Nine men from Taiwan men ranging in age from 76 to 89 who once drove 730 miles in 13 days caught motorcycle rides today with American drivers in San Jose to start a three-day highway trip to Los Angeles.
The men, who starred in the award-winning documentary "Go Grandriders," hitched rides with members of the BMW Club of Northern California after a ceremonial send off attended by about 100 people outside the County Government Center in San Jose.
Hung-Tao Chang, 76, of Taiwan, who appeared in the movie, got on one of the BMW cycles outside the building on West Hedding Street in place of his wife, Ying-Mei, 78, the female of the Grandriders group who was unable to make the trip.
"I am very excited, it's a wonderful occasion," said Chang, adding that thanks to the box office success of "Go Grandriders" in Taiwan, "I'm famous now. I have a lot fans."
The Grandriders are the rage in Taiwan and Hong Kong, where the film, released this year, became the most popular documentary ever produced in Taiwan, said Deborah Yang, Santa Clara-based spokeswoman for CNEX Foundation Limited, of Taiwan, that is promoting the movie.
The men were among the 17 original Grandriders -- now mostly well into their 80s and the eldest 95 and confined to a wheelchair -- shown in the film, Yang said.
The movie chronicles their 730-mile ride in motor scooters around Taiwan over 13 days in 2007, Yang said.
They did it despite their ages to show it is "never too late to pursue one's dreams," Yang said.
The road trip will take three days, with stops and hotel stays in Monterey, San Luis Obispo and ending at the University of California, Los Angeles, according to Ed Perry, a former Santa Clara County assistant sheriff who is helping spearhead the journey.
Perry, 57, whose wife is from Taiwan, watched the movie earlier this year and heard that the Grandriders' sponsor, the Hondao Senior Citizens Foundation, wanted to send the seniors on a group ride in California.
He convinced the BMW organization and its president Z. Ortiz, to provide the motorcycles and drivers for them, he said.
The riders will spend most of the drive headed south on state Highway 1 down the coast of California and then switch back to 101 on the way to Los Angeles, Perry said.
The Taiwanese men could not qualify for driver's licenses in California and so each was assigned a member of the BMW club to drive them during the trip, Yang said.
At noon, with the Grandriders in place behind the American drivers astride the BMW cycles, they and several volunteers riding solo rumbled down Hedding to First Street on the way to U.S. Highway 101.
On Aug. 3, "Go Grandriders" won the best documentary award at the 36th Asian American International Film Festival in New York, according to focustaiwan.tw.
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