Mayor Ko bikes 380km from Taipei to Kaohsiung

The mayor met election candidates along the way but was not declaring support for any specific party.
PHOTO: China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je yesterday set off on a one-day biking trip from Taipei to Kaohsiung, hoping to complete the 380 km ride in 21 hours.

As of 8 p.m. last night - less than 15 hours after starting from Taipei - the 56-year-old mayor was already in Tainan, riding toward its neighbouring city and the mayor's destination, Kaohsiung.

Ko, who does not exactly look like a sporting type of person, started the ride early in the morning at Guandu, Taipei, at about 5 a.m., accompanied by almost 100 cyclists, after having a prayer session at a famous temple in the area.

Asked if he was confident he could finish the trip, Ko said, "There shouldn't be a problem."

While the official goal was 21 hours, the mayor was actually looking to finish it within 19 hours. He would have completed the trip in the early hours of today.

The entire journey was being tracked by GPS, and video clips of him were uploaded regularly to a site that provided real-time updates on his whereabouts. As of late last night, the site had almost a million hits.

He set out a few rules for the ride, including refusing to make speeches to people, pose for photos individually or sign autographs - all of which would have delayed his journey - when making rest stops along the way.

"Posing for photos with people would usually take more than 30 minutes," he said.

The ride was not an explicit campaigning stunt promoting specific candidates in the upcoming elections, but some media reports estimated he would "bump into" at least 15 hopefuls during the entire trip.

He was supposed to spend the night at a Kaohsiung hotel after arriving at the destination. He is also expected meet with some legislative candidates he supports in the afternoon today - including Chung Chia-pin, Hung Tzu-yung and Ker Chien-ming before heading back to Taipei, but not by bike though.