Love brings cycling from Taiwan to mainland across mountains and seas
A 20-strong cycling team named "Bike Angel," consisting of riders from Taiwan and volunteers from the Chinese mainland, recently toured east China's Fujian Province.
Initiated by Yang Min-chung from Taiwan in 2012, the cross-Strait cycling charity event marks its 10th anniversary this year.
Back in 2011, Yang was a social worker who engaged a lot in social welfare activities. He visited an orphanage in Taiwan where he learned that many of them loved cycling.
He also found out that many of the orphaned children he met felt lost and uncertain about their future. He decided to give them an opportunity to see the outside world through a cycling tour on the Chinese mainland.
In the summer of 2012, Yang and 35 teenagers cycled around the island, after which they cycled on the mainland from Beijing to Xiamen, covering 3,200 kilometers in 40 days. The first cycling team comprised 75 members.
These teenagers from Taiwan finally realized their dreams, standing at the foot of the towering Great Wall and having a close look at Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium.
Yang also realized his dream.
"I took these children across the mountains and seas to see the wider world, and they have forged deep friendships with mainland volunteers," Yang said. "Everything I have done has been very meaningful."
"I experienced many important life moments with my friends in Taiwan. Even though we couldn't meet each other due to the pandemic, we still felt close to each other," said Wang Wanbin, a volunteer from the Chinese mainland who participated in the last three events.
Over the past decade, more than 900 children and teenagers from Taiwan have taken part in cycling tours in 55 cities across the Taiwan Strait, covering a total of 12,000 kilometers.
In 2019, Yang launched the Bike Angel Association and became the president. "The association aims to provide better public sports services and help more teenagers," Yang said.
Many teenagers have changed a lot after participating in a cycling tour.
"I hope, one day I can go out of the mountains and see the world," said a student who participated in one of the tours.
The association has also launched online education projects, including Chinese food, English, cycling, and writing courses, providing a widely-acclaimed platform for youths from Taiwan and volunteers to communicate with each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yang is planning on offering a series of upcoming cycling tours to primary schools in southwest China's Sichuan Province this year to bring new experiences to children in mountain areas on the Chinese mainland.
He also expressed his wishes that in the future, cross-Strait students from mountain areas can gather in Fujian to enjoy the happiness that cycling can bring.
"The ultimate goal of the cycling tours is not to go sightseeing, but to help teenagers broaden their horizons and challenge themselves," said Yang.