Today, Col de la Croix de Fer

Nice step, the worries of the beginning of the day are forgotten, even if the problem is not solved. The descent of Lans-en-Vercors was very beautiful, overlooking the Chartreuse and Belledonne.


From Grenoble to Vizille, the trafic was painful. Fortunately, we drove in a group, then alone at the stops, then we found further suntripeurs. The climb to the col of the Iron Cross was long and rough, but no one can say that he was not warned: The climb was even more severe a few kilometers from the pass when the battery was empty, because of a sun hidden for too long. At that time, I was happy to have a development of MTB and to be able to “grind”. But the effort is always rewarded: arrived at the lake, the sun illuminated the valley a few minutes and I was able to film beautiful plans.


At the pass: Balance: few km, but quite a bit of difference!

Still worries….

This morning, the collective departure of Lans-en-Vercors. I was quietly filming the Caravan of solar bikes when suddenly a noise in the trailer forces me to stop. A tube has completely desolidariséed. The troubles caused by a congenital malformation continue. The suntripeur gene reacts: Scotch and Rilsan allow you to leave. For how many miles?

Monday, July 10 program

Departure of the Puy-en-Velay for the Rhône Valley: We have a very covered weather, our batteries are at the lowest! 1250 m of positive elevation is waiting for us, so our legs will be our main engine. Negative 1766m: Bicycles that have a "regeneration" function will be able to recharge their batteries. These are the ones whose unducted motor is located in the hub of a wheel. Their engine turns into a generator, much like a dynamo. A chance, that's the case of my bike!

From Brioude to Puy-en-Velay

This morning the trailer is again "on its feet". Today the stage is short but the weather announces a thunderstorm for the end of the morning. My Italian sidekick, Daniele, is proposing to trace the shortest to our destination. The few thinnings allow to scrounge a few watts but it is very little for the long climb that awaits us. Throughout the morning a stormy sky gathers and darkens in our backs. The threat forces us to redouble our efforts to cross the pass. A very small stop for a cereal bar and we are very fast on the Puy, more than 25 km! We arrive at the Matourt, our rendezvous point, just ten minutes before a torrential rain falls on the city. With other suntripeurs, we shelter in a restaurant.  In the shelter, we share our stories by tasting a delicious aligot, and we have compassionate thoughts for those who are still on the road! The progress of July 9th: "The cyclists of the Sun Trip Tour made a stopover in Le Puy-en-Velay" The Awakening of the Haute-Loire on July 10: «The Sun Trip Tour has staged the Puy» Site of the city of Puy-en-Velay: «Sun Trip Tour Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes: 40 Solar bikes have FA It stage at Le Puy-en-Velay»

Incredible, I'm saved!

I didn't believe it, but I did! I'll be able to leave tomorrow! Thanks to Guillaume who is there at the campsite, thanks to his drill, I was able to consider a repair. And thanks to the collective intelligence and mutual assistance between suntripeurs, I was able to repair during part of the night! The old suntripeurs me that the important thing is not to find the perfect solution, ideal, but a solution that allows to arrive at the next stage, where there, we seek a better solution.

It's a disaster!

Since the middle of the afternoon, I felt the trailer moving abnormally behind the bike. The last few meters when arriving at the campsite, something began to rub against the wheel. Once at the campsite, I get off the bike and discover the extent of the disaster: the solar panels literally collapsed on the wheel of the trailer! I look under the panels: it is a centerpiece, yet stainless steel which has cracked and broken in several places. Despair is totally invading me! So many days of work destroyed for a room too fragile! And tomorrow is Sunday, no DIY shop open! No car garage, either! And tomorrow night, all the suntripeurs have an appointment at Le Puy-en-Velay! My first day of Sun Trip will be my last?!?  

The day has arrived!

I arrived at the campsite in the middle of the night. After only 3 hours of sleep, I meet at breakfast all the suntripeurs and Suntripeuses arrived since Thursday. Lots of bikes, all different and original, are parked, ready for departure!

Tonight my bike is sleeping near Clermont-Ferrand!

Like some participants of the SunTrip, I would have liked to arrive by bike on the place of departure (Clermont-Ferrand). But I had to take it by car. And Surprise! On the spot there was another bike already arrived! And not just any bike, because it is the "Tribellule" of Francis Cottard that I could see on the Internet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U1OMemZbS8 This vehicle is an adaptation DeFrancis Cottard from the bike oh how mythical of Bernard Cauquil, the Fastest SunTrip 2015!

How much does my solar vehicle weigh?

In recent weeks, various evolutions have altered the mass of my bike: the battery, refurbished to store more energy *, is now a little heavier (its capacity of 9, 6Ah at the origin is passed to now to 28Ah) and on the trailer, I chose not Keep only 4 solar panels instead of the 5 originally planned. I weighed myself, then carrying the bike, and finally, carrying the trailer. Knowing that the weight of the luggage is estimated at 8kg (tent and duvet included), it is up to you to do the calculations from the photos to know:

  • The weight of the bike,
  • The weight of the trailer,
  • The weight of all of my solar vehicle and its pilot.
The cyclist alone
The cyclist and the bike The cyclist and the trailer

The icing on the cake!

I needed to weld two pieces and, given the finesse of these steel parts, my arc welding station was not suitable, it would have melted everything. He is a young mechanic from my neighborhood-retro Performance-who brought all his know-how to make me embarrassed. Let him be thanked! What will be the use of these pieces: even if the departure is in 10 days, I keep hoping to add to my prototype the icing on the cake imagined from the beginning of the project: the possibility of orienting the solar panels in the direction of the sun. This orientation would be carried out on a single axis of course, the axis of the trajectory of the bike, and only the days without wind.

SunTrip 2017

What if the sun is hiding for several days in a row?

I hike quite often in the mountains and fortunately so far I have never had a disastrous weather on a full or two weeks. On the other hand, I've already had gray or rainy days on a few nights. What will happen with our solar bikes if you have 3 days in a row where we cannot recharge the battery? In the middle of the Alps, with passes to cross? Well I guess we'll need good thighs and good calves… In order to avoid this eventuality, I chose to swap my crankset for a MTB pedal, with smaller trays, so. But when I tried to mount a SLX crankset, oddly enough I could not make the settings for each tray to pass correctly. So I entrusted my mount to my bicycle mechanic, gables-on-streets, and he found the solution! The problem is that the joysticks are not necessarily adapted to the draw of the MTB pedals. The solution was to use a very old Shimano RSX 100 type controller. The knowledge and know-how of our Yokohama bicycle shops is irreplaceable!

SunTrip 2017

What budget for this solar bike?

At the time of my registration at SunTrip, I had about 6 months to build and experiment my prototype, which limited the search for partners, and therefore the budget too. I obviously watched the presentation how to turn an electric bike into a solar bike by Bernard Cauquil. I admired his selection of technological solutions. Surely he had hoisted the bar very high. But the cost price of his machine was quite a deterrent to me. Besides, I like the DIY (= do it yourself), I like to be self-sufficient. So, when it was possible, I rather opted for the cheapest solutions, although I knew beforehand that they were not the best. This allowed me to have a vehicle for a reasonable price. The diagram below reflects the cost of the solar bike (out of partnership), it does not take into account the R&D budget that I have difficulty evaluating. The total is below the €3300 bar.

The question of the weight hike…

While hiking, walking or cycling, I learned to pay attention to the weight of my equipment. I learned a lot about ultra-light walking sites (MUL) especially randonner-leger.org/. The basic principle: is this equipment indispensable to me? To find the right balance between comfort, safety and lightness. I apply the same principles to bike riding.

For the SunTrip, I knew my bike would be heavier than a normal bike and my choices were often guided by the concern around the weight. The bike I bought weighed 25kg. I managed to reduce his weight to 19.6 kg. How? For example by removing accessories such as the steel luggage rack (1kg alone!), fenders, etc.. and replacing the suspended fork with a rigid carbon fork (2 kg gain).

On the other hand, my new reconditioned battery gained weight: 3.6 kg versus 2.8 kg originally. But that extra weight doesn't upset me. What for? Because it corresponds to an increase in its storage capacity: It goes from 9.6 Ah to 28Ah because the repackaging company offered me to increase the number of cells using all the available space.

A mysterious parcel from Poland!

I received today a parcel that I did not expect anymore… I had to open it to realise that the partnership requested from the manufacturer of my trailer, the producer of the mine, became effective! These are different elements to complete my trailer: a satchel, fixing kneecaps, two neon yellow pennants for the motorists to correctly mark my trailer.