Friday, June 15th saw the official start of SunTrip 2018, the third annual solar bike rally — this year between Lyon, France and Guangzhou, China.
Commemorating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of a ‘sister’ relationship between the two cities, the 12,000 km point-to-point overland adventure will cross 10 countries, and imposes some challenging rules on the 40 rally participants:
- Participants must ride on a solar electric bicycle and charge their batteries using only solar energy
- After the start proper (in Chamonix tomorrow, June 19th), there is no specific, imposed route
- Sun Trip adventurers are not to be followed by support vehicles — this is a completely unassisted rally
— The Sun Trip (@TheSunTrip) June 16, 2018
And there’s a local connection to SunTrip 2018.
Justin Lemire-Elmore of Vancouver’s GRIN Technologies and Anne-Sophie Rodet — a writer and graphic designer who lives in Vancouver but grew up not far from the race start — are riding a back-to-back tandem recumbent electric solar bicycle, using many parts and features invented by Justin himself.
A bit of a celebrity in the electric bike sector, Justin is quoted on the SunTrip website as saying that the trip fits the definition of thinking outside the box about transportation concepts that could change the world: “It’s crazy, audacious, and wild, full of DIY builds that push the boundaries of what an ebike can do.”
And while it may seem to be the kind of thing that would also push the boundaries of what a human can do, perhaps not as much as one might think.
The back to back geometry allows us to have our heads nearer together for conversation during the trip and provides a total 360 degree view of everything going on. And for the person rowing, it’s totally normal to be facing backwards to the motion, so we’re used to that.
The propulsion will use dual hub motors on each of the front drive wheels, and we will use a tilting roof structure for the solar panels, with an equally important role of providing us shade through these hot countries.
— David George (@davidzof) June 16, 2018