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Q&A: Peter Starr has a grand ride in mind

July 29, 2013

American riders on the 2012 trip.

Starr says the riding in Taiwan can't be beat.

Peter Starr, director of the motorcycle film Take It To The Limit, is a big fan of the so-called "Grand Riders" from Taiwan. It's a group of 80-something Taiwanese men who recaptured their vitality through a ride around their home island a few years ago. Their story was popularized in an extended commercial for TC Bank that went viral.

Starr is more than just a fan, though. He's a friend, and has ridden with the riders who inspired the commercial. Last year, he took a group of 10 Americans over to ride with them again. This year, he wants to expand the group to 20. Starr says the rides are a non-profit effort, set up to cover the costs of travel and accommodations.

We caught up with Starr to find out what keeps taking him back to Taiwan.

AmericanMotorcyclist.com: What's your goal with this ride?

Starr: There are several goals, but the main one is to promote and encourage seniors to continue to ride motorcycles. Ever since I started studying medicine, it became obvious that active passionate people age more gracefully and enjoy that part of their life more. Motorcycling helps maintain good hand/eye coordination and a good sense of balance. We are also showing support for these pioneers in Taiwan who in spite of failing health continue to challenge themselves.

AM.com: Why Taiwan?

Starr: I first saw a short video about the Grand Riders in 2011, and being a cancer survivor myself, immediately related to their frustrations, needs, desires and their passion for living through motorcycle riding. I went to Taiwan, rode with them and wrote about the experience in Motorcyclist Magazine. During that wonderful ride, I fell in love with the Taiwanese culture and the riding experience through the mountains and along the coast roads. Last year our Taiwanese hosts made a video of our ride, which can also be seen on YouTube.

AM.com: For you, personally, what's the most interesting thing about riding in this country?

Starr: We get to ride through very diverse scenery from sea level to 10,000 feet, through the beautiful Toroko Gorge, around lakes, along tropical coast roads and everywhere. Because of the different culture, there is so much to see that can stimulate your mind. Once out of the cities, the traffic is light, which allows for more stimulating riding. At the time of year when we go -- late September, early October -- we get the best of their riding weather.

AM.com: Will you be riding with any local riders? What's the significance there?

Starr: We will have six or seven riders from a local club that travel with us and they speak English, which helps when we get to restaurants, tourist places or simply learning about the Taiwanese culture. It also gives us Americans a chance to make new motorcyclist friends through the 10 days we ride with them. I am still in touch with some of the riders from my 2011 ride.

AM.com: What's the connection to the Harley-Davidson anniversary event?

Starr: The first time I went there on my own, I rode a 700cc scooter, which led to some spirited riding with the local riders. Last year SYM, a local scooter manufacturer, provided the 11 scooters for that ride. This year, the Taiwan Harley-Davidson importer wanted to get involved with the charity aspect of this ride, so they agreed to provide the 20 bikes we will use this year. It also gave us a chance to participate in “Bikertopia,” their celebration of Harley-Davidson's 110th anniversary on the last day of our ride.

AM.com: How can someone find out more information about the ride and sign up?

Starr: The easiest way is to drop me a note with your contact info at info@americangrandriders.com or call me at (310) 312-0012. Our ride is from Sept. 25 to Oct. 7, 2013.

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About the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation

Founded in 1990 by the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, the goal of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame is to tell the stories and preserve the history of motorcycling. Located on the campus of the American Motorcyclist Association in Pickerington, Ohio, the Hall of Fame's three major exhibition halls feature the machines and memorabilia of those who have contributed notably to the sport. The Motorcycle Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to motorcycling, including those known for their contributions to road riding, off-road riding and all categories of racing, as well as those who have excelled in business, history, design and engineering. More information can be found at MotorcycleMuseum.org.