The SunPedal Ride — USA Cross-Country Edition
Highlights from the 7000+ mile, 5+ month journey on the solar+human powered ebikes in the USA
edited by Nikita Arora and Anna Arora
Who would have thought that we would embark on such a journey! As we ventured the SunPedal Ride in the United States of America, we — myself and Luis — consider ourselves lucky to be a part of this unique solar and human powered journey covering a milestone of 7000+ miles on electric bicycles. This landmark journey was made between 15th of August 2021 until 19th of January 2022.
Wondering why we went on the journey? We wanted to have a conversation started around solar power, electric mobility and environmental consciousness. Not only that, this e-bike is a medium of healthy living and sustainable mobility. We recorded our journey on Strava.
We take this opportunity to walk you through our journey. Why are we sharing our journey with everybody? One simple reason, we bring to you our experiences of meeting people, beautiful moments and challenges that we faced during our journey. Trust me, we had quite a few of all of these! You will be engrossed into it and feel as if you are taking this journey yourself!
We finally embark on the journey! 11th August 2021 -14th August 2021
Feeling jittery and nervous, I took a 9-hours long flight from Belgrade which was supposed to land at the JFK airport! As soon as I landed at the airport, with an overwhelming feeling, I was faced with a snobby immigration officer. Even though I had a B1/B2(tourist/business) USA visa stamp on my passport, he enquired the reason for entering the country. As one must have thought, he just dismissed my reasoning that I have come for a 7000-mile journey in the middle of an ongoing pandemic! Thanking my stars, that I had the documents from sponsors in my file! With a suspicious eye, he thoroughly went through my documents, and believing me now, with a smile, let me in. I grabbed my luggage and rushed to catch my connecting flight to Charlotte, North Carolina! Why was I heading there? To meet my co-rider Luis Fourzan.
Luis and I first met through a common friend, Ernesto, who was my classmate in HEC Paris! Hailing from Chihuahua, Mexico, I met Luis on a trip to Iceland. Luis was in Iceland to pursue a Master Program in Sustainable Energy from Reykjavik University. During that time in 2018, Luis joined me for a 14-day journey in Iceland as a support team member in a electric car! We forged a bond since then, and when I shared my idea of this 7000 mile journey, he was equally excited! Being an outdoor enthusiast himself, he flew from Mexico to Charlotte, North Carolina.
After meeting with Luis, we took a Lyft from Charlotte to Winston-Salem to the Sol Mobil Workshop. We are thankful to Ryan Gillespie, a former Sun Tripper for agreeing to put together my solar e-bike in the Sol Mobil Workshop. Ryan is well-known for his DIY work in solar e-bikes. On the other hand, Luis’ e-bike was lent by Dr. Gregory Maassen, founder of EbikeLovers group in Washington DC, a few days before we reached the workshop.
My custom built partially solar powered e-bike was a Yuba Boda Boda All Terrain mechanical cargo bike retrofitted with Grin All Axle Front Hub, LiGo Batteries and a couple of SunPower solar panels of 50 Watts each. While Luis had a rugged Reise & Muller Supercharger 2019 e-bike with dual batteries to match the range. We spent the next couple of days fixing the last minute accessories, and thereof, decided to perform a 40-mile “test run” on the 14th of August 2021 from the workshop, just one day before we were set out to start our journey. Rather amusing thing was that very day, the weather forecast was of flash floods, which I think was in our favor as this might be our chance to see how the e-bike will run in the worst case scenario. To our fate, the batteries and electronics survived the heavy downpour, giving us immense confidence in the bike equipment!
…And we set out — 15th August 2021
The D-day had arrived! The SunPedal Ride officially begins from Greensboro, North Carolina after meeting Professor Jack Martin, who is a senior lecturer in the Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment at Appalachian State University. We had a good discussion on the necessity of skill-based training in the Electric Vehicle (EV) sector, especially understanding his experience in the skill training of personnel in electric mobility via the LEVA (Light Electric Vehicle Association) program for which he has also visited India a couple of times.
The first few days of riding were all sweat and blood! We were getting used to the heat, humidity and long sunny days. We proceeded to Raleigh, where Oaks and Spokes hosted us for lunch. During the lunch, we had the opportunity to meet Nick Neptune, an active biking enthusiast who works with the stakeholders to encourage biking in the local communities. Mary Sell organized a demonstration of our e-bikes to the people of Raleigh.
Visiting Richmond, a role model!
In Richmond, Virginia, we met Wendy Fewster and Alexis from the City of Richmond Sustainability team who were kind enough to offer us an ice-cream in the downtown area during one of the sunniest days. It was definitely a respite from the heat! We were informed about the RVAgreen 2050! RVAgreen is the City of Richmond’s equity-centered climate action and resilience planning initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030, achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and help the community adapt to Richmond’s climate impacts of extreme heat, precipitation, and flooding.
Stopping at the Gas Stations…
Gas Stations were common pit-stops during our journey! We had to fuel up our e-bikes. Pro-Tip — Most Gas Stations have charging outlets outdoors which are freely accessible to charge the ebike battery. More importantly, we had to re energize ourselves! We started with strategizing ourselves to ensure that we follow the least level of pedal assist on our e-bikes to give us the maximum range. This strategy was to ensure that we avoid our worst nightmare — zero battery in the middle of the road. Each of our bikes weighed approximately 140 pounds (closer to 70 kilograms) including our luggage and we did not want to be stranded on an isolated road. We dreaded the idea of spending the night by road side.
Going to Washington D.C.
In Washington DC, we met Dr. Gregory Maassen who was really kind enough to lend his e-bike was used by Luis in the journey. He had organized a bike tune-up at the non-profit organisation situated in the Washington D.C., named Gearin’ Up Bicycles. It was interesting to see how such non-profits impact the local communities, through regular educational programs. Greg hosted me and Luis for dinner at his home. He was kind enough to share the information with us regarding his ongoing documentary work on the promotion of e-bikes.
One of the co-sponsors of journey — Streetlight Data, recorded some snippets of our journey in the Washington DC. We met some of their team members next to the Washington Monument. We had a good discussion on the transportation analytics data and how it could influence policy decision makers to push towards sustainable transport infrastructure in the cities.
While we were there, my classmate from HEC Paris, Jessa Coleman, ran into me. Jessa is a clean energy enthusiast working with PACE. The property assessed clean energy (PACE) model is an innovative mechanism for financing energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements on private property. She was very helpful in connecting us with the right people from her networks. I am thankful to people like Jessa who have supported us in our journey and connecting us with the right kind of people.
Proceeding to Brooklyn, New York
From Washington DC, we moved towards Brooklyn, New York. There we had an opportunity to meet Chris Nolte, the Founder of the Electric Bike Shop named Propel Bikes. He helped us in getting our bikes tuned up for the journey ahead. During this time, Chris showed us his YouTube Channel about e-bikes. Trust me, it is worth checking out if you are an ebike enthusiast. Chris was excited about our journey and decided to ride with us until Manhattan through the protected bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge. During the journey, he discussed the demand and supply gap in the e-bike industry.
Riding in downtown New York was a bliss, thanks to the decent infrastructure for bike riders in New York and the constant efforts of the volunteers such as David Vassar, who is an invariable part of the transportation advocacy group, Transport Alternatives. David and his team of a few volunteers met us in the city for an informal interaction about our east coast riding experiences.
Natasha Crowe and Daniel Modell from Octopus Energy, one of the co-sponsors of the project, met with us in Manhattan near the Central Park, during the public display of the solar e-bike. We also met Aggie Dent, a Sports Management student from Columbia Business School who helped us to spread the word about the project and the cause.
Moving towards Pennsylvania
Heading east from New York and New Jersey, the hilly journey started towards the Eastern Pennsylvania region. On the day when we were supposed to reach the Pennsylvania Region, popularly referred as the Penn State Area, there was a flash flood warning, primarily due to the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Looking at the conditions and understanding the natural aftermath, we decided to take a break in the Penn State Area! The heavy downpour was too much to handle, however, thanks to the team at Country Inn and Suites by Radisson State College (Penn State Area), our stay was quite comfortable. What more, they pampered us with some of the healthy snacks, drinks and a greeting card to keep us motivated when our spirits were down!
We are extremely thankful to Samantha Fink, Alissa Kujawski and the entire team for the hospitality!
Well remembered Pittsburgh
In Pittsburgh, we got a wonderful opportunity to interact with school students from ECS Communitopia, thanks to our Title Sponsors — Oriden and Mitsubishi Power Americas — for organizing the event. This was a wonderful opportunity for us because these students will be the future inhabitants of the planet Earth and will have to live a sustainable lifestyle. Students were quite curious to know more about the working of the e-bikes. Luis and I shared our respective experiences about sustainable practices from our home countries too! It was amazing to see how conscious the students were about the importance of dealing with the issue of climate change. The students also shared their daily life choices which were more sustainable! I had never imagined students to be so conscious. Many of them even asserted that they choose to walk to school instead of taking a car.
Later in the day, Luis and I rode with some employees of Oriden in the city while sharing our journey experiences! They rode with us on their respective bikes during the sundown and it was an amazing conversation that we had!
Chris Nolte, whom we had met in New York had suggested us to meet with Adam from the Adam Solar Rides in Pittsburgh. His company promotes sustainable travel and energy conservation. He was very helpful in transporting our e-bikes from the outskirts to the city in his car. Adam gave us a tour of the city of bridges on the e-bikes before we said a goodbye to Pittsburgh.
Ebike city tours are an interesting use case for e-bikes since they are a healthy and sustainable option to explore the city while promoting tourism. On the very same day we had a luncheon in Pittsburgh with some research engineers from CMU who were curious to understand more about the solar ebike.
Toledo, Ohio to Angola, Indiana
Chaitanya is a friend who lives in Ann Arbor but came all the way to Toledo to meet us in the evening. Since in the morning, Luis’ e-bike had not been charged enough due to the charging socket issue at the hotel to start riding, Chaitanya voluntarily helped us by picking Luis and his e-bike in his car to cover a distance of 30 miles to make up for the lost charge and time. Thank you, Chaitanya!
In the evening, we met with Andrea Mitofsky, the Trine College Professor from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and her student, Abigail DeCamp who was kind enough to offer us dinner at the University canteen. They also helped us in staying at the Trine Cottage for overnight. We are really thankful to James Tew for helping us connecting with the Professor and his support.
And reaching to Chicago…
We reached Chicago after Toledo! We felt a surge of happiness after riding into the city’s Lake Front Bike Trail! It was completely independent of the vehicular traffic! Chicago was one of the busiest pitstops. We had quite a few meetings there. We were hosted by the team of Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. Courtney Cobbs from the Better Streets Chicago met us before we checked into the hotel to know more about our journey experiences and the e-bikes.
The next morning, we met with the representatives of bike sharing organization, Divvy Bikes owned by Lyft. Here a special mention to Melanie Petit for facilitating the interaction and the warehouse tour! We got the first-hand experience of the operations and maintenance part, which is one of the major cost components of any bike sharing company. The riders have one expectation — top-notch condition of the bike at the time of booking. We also discussed the supply chain challenges of electronics during the pandemic. We showed them how the solar charging mechanism of the e-bike works! We were happy and encouraged to see new product innovations and improved models of e-bikes being developed for the bike sharing system in the city, owing to the increase in demand for e-bikes.
Later in the afternoon, we met with Ms. Amy Rynell who is the Executive Director of the Active Transportation Alliance. Amy shared her thoughts about the constant advocacy efforts going on in the city to get more people on bikes. After meeting with Amy, in the evening, we had an interaction with Kevin Borgia and his colleague, Anson from the Illinois Solar Energy Association.
Cedar Falls, Iowa.
We reached Cedar Falls, Iowa on a bright sunny morning. As we were having breakfast in a restaurant, a group of people took cognizance of our bikes parked outside started taking to us. One of them, fortunately turned out to be the former Director of Tourism in the Cedar Falls. We had a good interaction with her and she was kind enough to cover for our breakfast cost. She introduced us to Eric O’Brien who is the Sustainability Director at the University of Northern Iowa.
We then went to visit Eric and his students at the University. We parked our bikes outside the campus library. Eric also shed light on the on-campus sustainability initiatives that are being implemented. A few of them included bike-sharing systems and active adoption of solar energy for the campus.
After Cedar Falls, we reached Minneapolis via Mason City. We met the team of Radisson Hotel Group Americas who was our accommodation partner of the journey. Nicolas Tiziou, the Director of Responsible Business at the Radisson Hotel Group Americas organized a 20-mile bike ride with some employees from the Radisson Blu Mall of America to their corporate Head Quarters. On a bright sunny day, Luis and I rode together with the team in the city of lakes while interacting with them. We are very grateful for all the support given by the entire team. Radisson Hotel Group is making efforts to reduce our carbon, energy, water, and waste footprint as part of their Think Planet Sustainability Initiative. The hotel Group is partnering with Clean02, a technology that captures CO2 emissions from water boilers, re-injects heat into the system and creates a by-product (potash) from which you can make soap, which will be used in the hotels. We were highly appreciable of the efforts put in by the team for their part in sustainable planet!
Moving to North Dakota
After Minneapolis, we entered North Dakota via the Lake Wobegon Trail. We were introduced to riding on the interstate. I-90 from Fargo onwards has a wide shoulder, rumble strips with less traffic. We quickly got used riding on the Interstate shoulder and realised that our average speed increased to about 17mph on flat surfaces due to the paved smooth roads with almost no elevation. It is important to keep the bikes tuned up to ensure a smooth journey. At Fargo, we went to a bike shop for tuning our bikes whose owner shared his experiences of riding in India and Mexico. The damaged rear gear shifter of my bike was replaced at the shop.
Once we reached Steele, the first thing that we did was to do a zoom call with fellow trail users with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy team! We were excited to share our experiences of riding on the trails. Rails-to-Trails is working on a very ambitious project called the Great American Rail Trail. While the trail’s completion is likely to take several decades, new miles are being added all the time with more than 150 miles currently in the pipeline.
Our Airbnb host, Kara Kramin, in Valley City, helped us get some local outreach via the radio and print news
In Bismarck, we also met a fellow solar e-biker, Mark Havran, who was on his long distance trip completely off-grid, using only solar energy to charge his e-bike. It was amazing to share each others experiences of the journey.
We also got an opportunity to visit and share our journey experiences with students from the National Energy Centre of Excellence Bismarck State College. Our sincere gratefulness to Bruce Emmil and Todd Seibel! In Jamestown, we woke up early to visit the university and interact with some media and students about our journey, thanks to Logan James.
Warmshowers.org is an active community of people who host cross country cyclists. We also had our first Warmshowers experience in Richardton, North Dakota.
I had messaged Joel, who was our host from Warmshowers from North Dakota, before reaching Richardton to see if he was available and willing to host us for a night. He quickly accepted and was excited to see the e-bikes when we arrived to his home. Joel, his wife and 2 kids was very welcoming. We enjoyed some home cooked dinner, conversations and board games with them before we retired in the basement for the night. The next day, we got an opportunity to connect remotely during a renewable energy conference in Mexico, to share about the project and the cause, thanks to my co-rider, Luis.
Fun fact — Jamestown, North Dakota has the world’s largest statue of a Buffalo. It was a good photo-op for us!
Quaint little town of Medora
Our next stop was the quaint little touristic town of Medora, which is the home to the scenic and famous Theodore Roosevelt National Park. During our stay in Medora, we met Kaelle Wallace, the Marketing Manager of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. She was really excited to hear about our journey and hosted us at the Rough Riders Hotel. We met with the other hotel guests and had interesting conversations around our journey. They were really excited to hear about our experiences.
Heading towards Montana…
We were in for a weather change as we headed towards Montana on the I-94. We faced heavy downpour, due to which the temperature dropped drastically as we entered Glendive from North Dakota. We equipped ourselves with the Gore-tex winter gear to protect us from harsh weather conditions, as most often we started our ride at 0 degree Celsius.
We would also like to give a special shout-out to Bob Thaden and Marilyn, who were our Airbnb hosts in Miles City! They were kind enough to connect us with the congregational churches along our route who helped us with accommodation in smaller towns like Custer, Columbus and Whitehall. Bob and Marilyn also helped to fix flat tire and treated us to a sumptuous home cooked meal at their winery.
We were riding along the Yellowstone river towards its source while crossing some mountain peaks and high wind speed regions. The fall colors of Red to Orange to Yellow were shimmering through our pathway! What a sight to behold! Big Timber and Livingston had very strong cross and head winds, which is when I could feel the challenge of handling the bike. In Bozeman, we met with Paul Edlund, the Sustainability Director at Montana State University. We also visited a solar powered brewery in Bozeman and got an opportunity to get a tour of their operations, thanks to Mark!
We also got the opportunity to meet with the Mayor of White Hall and we were warmly hosted by Warmshowers.org host, John in Butte, Montana.
Missoula — An adventure ride
After reaching Missoula, we met with the team from Adventure Cycling Association, the advocacy organization for cycling in the USA. We were happy to learn about the increase e-bike cross-country travel every year.
Geoff from the team told us about the increase in the cycling trends as more people preferred outdoors and remote work after the pandemic hit. As a part of the usual tradition there, we weighed Luis’s bike and had our photo posted on the wall and they offered us some ice-cream and merchandise. We headed off to meet our Warmshowers hosts in Missoula, Anna and Carl. Anna had been to India and Mexico. We had a lot of interesting conversations.
Our experience at Idaho and Washington…
We were hosted by Donna at the Ryan Hotel in Wallace, Idaho. There is an interesting manhole cover sign in the town which marks ‘Center of the Universe’ — with a rather amusing history!
There are amazing bike trails called the trail of Couer d’Alene and the Centennial trail till we reached Spokane. We were hosted by Warmshowers hosts, David and Jenny in Couer d’Alene, who really made us feel at home.
In Spokane, we were hosted by Gonzaga University in the guest accommodation. Thanks to Jim Simon, the Sustainability Director at Gonzaga University, we got an opportunity to interact with some students with our bikes kept outside the student union center. Also, we got our bikes tuned up in the campus cycle repair shop.
After thoughtful interactions at Spokane, we proceeded to Ellensburg, where Kathleen Klaniecki, the Sustainability Director at Central Washington University hosted us on campus and facilitated an informal interaction with the campus residents in the student center. We are verythankful to her for organizing such a wonderful interaction.
From Ellensburg to North Bend, we took the breathtakingly scenic 120 mile Palouse-to-Cascades trail via Cle Elum and Snoqualmie Pass. The gravel trail was completely immersed in dense forests and detached from the car traffic. We passed through multiple restored railway tunnels and bridges.
We had some amazing views on our Palouse to Cascades trail. We even stayed overnight stay in a Caboose in Cle Elum which was an exhilarating experience!
Going to Seattle…
We reached Seattle on a very rainy day from North Bend. The city has an interconnected bike trails especially the Preston-Issaquah trail running parallel to I-90 which made our trail in the city a comfortable one. The tiring day was closed after having a sumptuous Indian meal with a friend from college, on the occasion of the Indian festival, Diwali.
Next morning, we met Sarah Bruce Courtney and the Research & Development team of Rad Power Bikes. The team hosted us for the lunch and helped us with the bike tuning. We were happy to learn about the exponential scale-up of Rad Power Bikes which makes a range of affordable and good quality e-bikes. We also caught up with Paul Tolme from the Cascade Bicycle Club in Seattle.
What was interesting to see was the infrastructure that the city of Seattle had! They could measure the number of bikers passing through a particular bike path. The sensor on the ground recorded the data and thus, displayed it on a live counter. This data could be used by the city planners, engineers and local communities for analysis and decision making. We also met Richard Mayer, Assistant Director of Sustainable Facilities Operations at Seattle University and Maika Bui from the clean energy company, Omnidian, to share some of our journey experiences.
In Olympia at the Capitol Building, we met Jordan Kronen, the legislative assistant to the Senator, Ms. Liz Lovelett. We are thankful to Jessa for making this happen! Meeting with the legislative assistant was fruitful as the Senator is a great propagator of solar power. She did passed the C-PACER bill (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy and Resiliency) HB 2405 (SB 6222) in 2020 that creates a public private partnership allowing for commercial property owners to access private capital to make energy efficiency upgrades in their buildings, a majority of which comes in the form of solar panels.
Embarking onto Oregon
Rains are characteristic to Oregon! Paul Tolme from Seattle had connected us with Jeremy Rider from the company named Showers Pass, which is an outdoor apparel company. The Chief Executive Officers of Shower Pass — Kyle Ranson and Stephanie Leikas were kind enough to provide us with the rain gear. They also launched e-bikes under the Vvolt brand, owing to the rise in demand for e-bikes. Portland was one of the most bike friendly cities in our experience. Protected and marked bike lanes were a common sight throughout the city and the motorists were very aware of the presence of bikers on the road.
We also had a chance to briefly meet with Jenny McNamara, LEED AP, the Sustainability Director at the Portland State University share our journey experiences and learn about the initiatives undertaken to raise awareness on campus. Leaving Portland, we faced quite a lot of rainfall till Corvallis. The constant rains caused the first challenge with the electrical system of the ebike. The pedal assist sensor of my ebike stopped working due to the dampness.
We had amazing hosts through Warmshowers.org in Corvallis, Kim and Mark. It was inspiring to hear their biking stories from Japan and a tandem bike ride in the United States! Kim biked with us the next morning till the outskirts of the town till the bike trail.
‘The crash before the Ash’
Our experiences would have been incomplete if we did not have at least one crash in our entire 7000-mile journey! About 5 miles before Ashland, Luis lost control and crashed his bike into a guard rail on a trail during a sharp U-turn. The rugged R&M e-bike was unfazed, and fortunately for us so was Luis. The guard rail broke with the impact of the collision though. This would be the one and only crash and fall from the entire journey, but definitely a memorable one. Brakes had to be readjusted on the R&M ebike. I was in contact with Ravi Kempaiah, who holds the current Guinness World Record for the longest journey on an e-bike. He connected me with his co-founder, Paul, in Ashland whom we met for a quick bike tune-up. We are thankful to Ravi for his support!
In Eugene, I got my pedal assist sensor replaced which was damaged in the constant rainfall in Washington and Oregon. Ryan from Sol Mobil had shipped the spare part to the Eugene Electric Bicycles bike shop which agreed to replace the damaged component without any cost. We are thankful for their support! The bike shop was buzzing with customers with whom we got an opportunity to share our journey experiences.
And we reached California…
The path through Yreka, Mt. Shashta and Burney Falls was one of the beautiful hilly stretches as we entered Northern California from Oregon. Dense forests surrounding the winding hilly roads were a pleasant change from the constant rainfall that we were facing. The majestic Mt. Shashta and the mesmerizing Burney Falls was a sight to behold!
‘The One-Pedal Ride’
Our journey was full of experiences, but this one experience was a weirdly funny experience. While riding before Mt Shashta, one of my bike pedals flew off suddenly while pedaling in the middle of nowhere before Mt. Shashta. Luis tried various techniques of gluing the pedal to the crank arm as much as possible till the next bike shop in Redding but nothing worked to keep the pedal in place. I had to cover almost 100 miles with only one pedal till the next bike shop in Redding which was quite a challenge, especially because of the feeling of being handicapped. Fortunately, most of the path from Burney Falls to Redding was a gradual downhill. This is when the e-bike throttle came to the rescue since the pedal assist seized to work. Turned out that the left crank arm was installed to the right and vice versa, which was causing the pedals to unscrew with each revolution. What an experience!
With thanksgiving around the corner, we thought of taking a few rest days in Vallejo, after which Luis and I headed to the UC Berkeley area for a series of brief interactions. We met Collin Director, Social Impact team at DoorDash who supported the journey via gift cards and hosted us for breakfast in Berkeley and Matt Campbell, Chief Executive Officer, Terabase Energy, who hosted us for a South-Indian lunch. What a delight it was! Terabase Energy is on a mission to build the platform which will enable $0.01/kWh solar!
Later that day, we met Kashyap Deorah, Chief Executive Officer, Hypertrack and Martin Morzynski, Chief Managing Officer of StreetLight Data with his team. After spending some time on campus interacting with people and showing off the e-bikes, we started our journey towards San Jose. The Bay Trail was an ideal route to bike from Berkeley to San Jose to avoid the vehicular traffic.
While gazing at the golden sunsets and taking the benefit of beautiful sights across, we rode along the coastal 101 Highway for some part in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara and Ventura. Trail Easland, a former professional bike racer, was our Warmshowers host in Santa Barbara. Trail had a collection of folding, touring and mountain bikes herself. She was very helpful to agree to host us last moment and she shared some biking tips for endurance. California is known for its biking culture. We definitely saw an increase in the bikes on the road which to be honest was a great encouragement for us!
We also met with Mukund, Anil and some members from AAHOA in San Jose. We were also grateful to our Warmshowers host, Karen in San Luis Obispo.
…And we set out for Arizona — the desert lands
From Anaheim, we started to ride eastwards towards Arizona. The landscape started to change from a mountainous area to a desert land. We took the frontage road and the I-10 interstate for most part as we headed towards Phoenix. We also had the longest riding day from Blythe, CA to Buckeye, AZ of 120 miles with almost 11 hours on the saddle! In Tucson, we met Pete Prebus the e-bike veteran and the former founder of ElectricBikeReport.com. He did a comprehensive interview with Luis and I while riding on the Loop Trail in Tucson. Thank you, Pete!
Venturing to New Mexico…
After Arizona, we entered New Mexico into Lordsburg. And we were again in the extreme temperatures! High heats and temperatures during the day and a drastic drop at night! Long riding days with no major towns in between was a common sight in New Mexico, which also meant lesser places to charge our e-bikes incase the battery drains out during the day. What did we do? Conservation of the batteries! We tried to conserve our batteries on long riding days (more than 100 miles) by putting more physical effort. The tailwind and good sunlight helped to conserve the battery on longer riding days.
With Christmas around the corner, we entered West Texas reaching El Paso in late December. Therein, we decided to take a 10-day break! Luis visited his family in Mexico while I took a break in El Paso catching up on some rest and recovery. We started riding again and spent the New Year’s eve in Van Horn where we were hosted by the Hotel El Camino.
The New Year’s Eve…
Time had flown like crazy. We started our journey in August and here we were in the new beginning of the year, with so many experiences with us!
We started riding again, we had very crazy tailwinds ranging up to almost 25mph. We faced another challenge. The rear wheel of my bike started to wobble due to these high winds! Really soon, we realized that my rear wheel hub had gotten loose due to the pothole vibrations. Luckily, Luis had picked up an abandoned wrench on the shoulder of the I-10 some days earlier which came handy that day!
We visited the Chambers of Commerce in Sonora, Giddings and Brenham to share our journey experiences. We also wanted to learn and understand the involvement of local communities regarding the use of solar power and electric mobility. It was encouraging to see that there were constant efforts to outreach and awareness in smaller towns about the use of renewable energy for businesses such as local restaurants, hotels and industries. The chambers helped us with food and accommodation in these towns too.
In Austin, we were hosted by Yotta Energy for lunch, thanks to the Chief Executive Officer, Omeed Badkoobeh. We interacted with their team over some tacos, which were really delicious by the way! It was good to learn more about their unique solar and storage solution, which is helping in decarbonisation. Robin Stallings, the Executive Director of the advocacy group, BikeTexas.org, hosted us in his office in Austin. We pre-recorded a couple of videos about our e-bike touring experiences, regarding some of the challenges we faced during biking, for the Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference 2022 to be attended by city planners and engineers.
Robin connected us with Fernando Martinez, Director of Bicycle Programs at the Houston Harris County Precinct One. Fernando further connected us with the Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who welcomed us into his office and rode with us in the downtown area. Together, we rode on the Bayou trails, part of the rails-to-trails network. It was great to see the enthusiasm of the Commissioner, who himself is a strong advocate of biking and active lifestyle. The County organizes a lot of biking tours and educational programs as a part of its efforts to raise awareness regarding biking in the city. One of the interesting initiatives by the county was to provide Pedego e-bikes to the local law enforcement sheriffs for patrolling in the city.
Finish line event by Octopus Energy in Houston
One of the co-sponsors of the journey, Octopus Energy, organized an event to celebrate the finish of the journey at the Grove, Houston. Michael Lee, the CEO met us with his daughter on his Rad Power e-bike. He rode the last 3 miles with us till the corporate HQ. Later, a get-together and a Q&A session over food and drinks was organized by their team, where me and Luis shared our journey experiences with the people at the event.
…the most difficult part of my journey — penning down the final thoughts
Well well well… I had always thought that taking the journey will be the most difficult task in this entire scenario, but I feel penning my final thoughts on the entire journey is! Fortunately for both Luis and me, people from all walks of life were very very kind to us. Luis and I had all the help and support available to us whenever we needed it the most. From random people ready to help us whenever we had flat tires on the road to the anonymous food donations in restaurants, I was literally moved by the kindness and generosity of people during the entire journey. To be honest, I had not expected so much generosity from people around us. It was the motivational honking by the passerby's on the Interstates and the good wishes of people which kept both us going on the saddle everyday for the span of 5+ months. I remember one of the team members from ACA telling us that cycling restores ones faith in humanity.
Most of the people, with whom we had interacted with, were appreciative and supportive of e-bikes and solar power, as one of the solutions of sustainable mobility and clean energy. This instilled a sense of confidence and consciousness in people about the technology which even though has been around for decades, but has not reached its highest potential. We were happy to have a conversation through this journey with as many people as possible and hopefully, this journey inspires people to shift towards a more sustainable lifestyle choice. Personally, I was happy to see the younger generation curious, aware and willing to make that shift.
As for cross-country biking in the United States of America, it is definitely doable! I initially had this perception that the country is a car-dominated one and therefore, cycling would be a challenge. What surprised me was a good biking infrastructure, both InterCity and IntraCity. What was even more supportive of our journey was the best routes, trails, hosts and camp grounds by active organizations like Adventure Cycling Association, Warmshowers.org and Rails-to-trails conservancy. One underrated application throughout our journey was the Google Maps bike route, which was our guide for most accurate bike paths for navigation. However, it always a good idea to talk to the locals who have a better sense of the latest road routes, traffic conditions, and any ongoing construction work.
With a smart battery and charge management, longer distances can be covered on an e-bike with minimal physical effort. The 100Watt solar panels gave an average 30% of the energy to charge the e-bike batteries on the go, which reduced the wall charging time of the battery considerably. E-bike touring can, thus, open avenues for cycling for a lot of people and with solar power, one can go off-grid partially or fully. This journey turned out to be stress testing for the components. We both are impressed with the performance of the e-bikes in all weather and road conditions under extreme endurance, which proves the worthiness of the e-bike technology. From our journey experiences, we have realized that the demand for e-bikes in the country has increased tremendously in the last couple of years and is expected to grow exponentially.
On the concluding note, one must not forget that climate change is a reality and its catastrophic effects are just going to grow rapidly. We personally had experienced unexpected weather conditions in certain parts of the journey which is a proof of the dynamic weather patterns caused by climate change. This was corroborated through our interactions with many people who have felt the pang of unusually extended drought conditions in states like North Dakota, California and other states which have adversely affected the crop yields.
As a part of the outreach cause, media coverage helped to reach out to a wider audience. Following are the media coverage links from the journey
Viaje sustentable: el mexicano que cruzó EU en bicicleta eléctrica
"Cualquiera se puede subir a una bicicleta (y mantener un estilo de vida saludable); yo nunca andaba en una y así le di…
Bikers travel 6,000 miles for clean energy advocacy
AUSTIN, Texas - Sushil Reddy and Luiz Fourzan have been riding their electric bikes since Aug. 15. They've covered more…
Chihuahuense recorre EU en bicicleta eléctrica
El abogado chihuahuense Luis Fourzán Sagarnaga, quien también es activista en movilidad sustentable, durante más de…
Šílený pokus o rekord na elektrokole! Nadšenec chce urazit přes 9000 km za 90 dní
Známý cestovatel chce urazit na svém upraveném elektrokole přes 9000 km Za sebou si vozí sadu solárních panelů, díky…
Διασχίζει τις ΗΠΑ με μοτοποδήλατο που παίρνει ενέργεια από τον ήλιο | Η ΚΑΘΗΜΕΡΙΝΗ
Το 2016, ο Sushil Reddy εγκαινίασε το πρότζεκτ SunPedal Ride· η ιδέα είχε στόχο να πυροδοτήσει συζητήσεις για την…
SASI Graduate Cycles Across the USA on a Mission
Today, Sushil Reddy, SAI Graduate and former Guinness world record holder for the longest journey on an e-bike, and…
Trine University hosted Sushil Reddy, left, and Luis Fourzan, center, Friday evening, Sept. 10, on their solar-powered…
Bikers travel across the US, stop at UNI
Starting at North Carolina. 6,900 miles east to west Amidst a 6,900 mile journey across the United States, bikers…
Octopus Energy ‘proud’ to sponsor e-bike nation trek, SunPedal Ride
A Houston-based renewable energy retailer is sponsoring a duo’s electronic bike trek across the country. Octopus Energy…
E-BICYCLISTS STOP IN BRENHAM ON 6,000-MILE JOURNEY TO PROMOTE SOLAR POWER — KWHI.com
Home / Featured /E-BICYCLISTS STOP IN BRENHAM ON 6,000-MILE JOURNEY TO PROMOTE SOLAR POWER Two bicyclists made a stop…
Cross-Country SunPedal Cyclist Rides Through Richmond! | Richmond
Virginia Judiciary Online Payment System (VJOPS)
Bikers travel 6,000 miles for clean energy advocacy
AUSTIN, Texas — Sushil Reddy and Luiz Fourzan have been riding their electric bikes since Aug. 15. They’ve covered more…
Recorren el país en bicicleta solar por una buena causa
Un recorrido por todo Estados Unidos solo en bicicleta, ese es el reto que han emprendido un hindú y un paseño.
Bicyclists pass through Las Cruces on 6,000-mile journey for clean energy awareness — KVIA
LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — Two bicyclists riding electric and solar powered bikes make their way to Las Cruces Friday…
E-bicyclists on 6,000-mile journey across the U.S. travel through Las Cruces
LAS CRUCES — A former Guinness world record holder for the longest distance ridden on an electric bicycle will stop in…
Solar-powered biking duo stops in CG on cross-country ride
CASA GRANDE — This week a pair of bikers stopped for the night in Casa Grande before pedaling on to Tucson the…
e-bikes across America: Engineer touts solar power on journey
DEMING — A record holder in the Guinness Book of World Records has set off on a new quest through the United States in…
Riding a Solar-Powered Electric Bike 6,900 Miles Across America
Traveling the country powered by the sun to highlight the advantages of both e-bikes and solar power for reducing…
Ruim 9.000 kilometer door de VS op een elektrische fiets met zonnepanelen
De elektrische fiets is in opmars. Het komt tot ongenoegen dan ook zeker voor dat iemand voor het einde van een ritje…
SunPedal Ride’s Solar E-Bike Tour | Electric Bike Report
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Sushil Reddy and Luis Fourzan along their ~7,000-mile solar electric bike…
Clean energy specialists ride across the U.S. to showcase the effectiveness of solar power
Electric bicycles have been making their way through Bismarck as part of a clean energy initiative.The two men riding…
Pair biking cross country on e-bike to promote sustainability stop in Waterloo
WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL)- A pair of bikers on a cross-country journey using solar energy rolled into Waterloo Sunday…
SunPedal Ride Brings Solar Bike Through Jamestown
JAMESTOWN, N.D. (NewsDakota.com) — Sushil Reddy and Luis Fourzan are biking more than 6,000 miles in the U.S. to…
Solar-powered pedals: Solar-powered bike rider swings by CWU
When Sushil Reddy goes out for a bike ride, he taps into the most abundant energy resource on the earth. Reddy, who…
Illinois Solar Energy Association — SunPedal Riders Stop in Chicago on an Epic Cross-Country Ride…
The Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA) is a non-profit organization that promotes the widespread application of…
Man on solar-powered bike stops in Bozeman on 6000-mile journey
Sushil Reddy and Luis Fourzan stopped in Bozeman this week on their nearly 7,000 mile cross-country journey through the…
The SunPedal Ride, A Solar-Powered E-Bike Project, Is Covering Thousands Of Miles Across The US…
If you haven’t been paying attention to electric bikes, you might be surprised that the size of their global market may…
This solar-powered electric bicycle is making a 6,500-mile loop around US
Sushil Reddy is no stranger to long-distance electric bicycles rides, having broken the Guinness World Record back in…
The solar-powered e-bike project SunPedal Ride makes a pit stop in Chicago
Streetsblog Chicago co-editor John Greenfield spotted a tweet from Sushil Reddy, whose handle is @SunPedal_Ride…
If you enjoyed reading through this and would like to get in touch for any further information, please feel free to reach out to us.
Finally, we would like to thank our sponsors, partners and all the people who generously supported this project to make it a success—
Title Sponsors — Mitsubishi Power Americas and Oriden
Co Sponsors — Octopus Energy and Streetlight Data
Accommodation Partner — Radisson Hotel Group Americas (Thank you for the winter gear!)
Bike build Partners — Sol Mobil LLC, Grin Technologies, Ebike Lovers
Other Supporting Organisations and donors —DoorDash, Schwable Tires, Quad Lock, Ortlieb, Nuun Hydration, MPowerd, Lumos, QuadLock, SolGaard, Arxtec, ShowersPass, PitViper, Sawyer, Tupperware, Sun Valley Solar, Yotta Energy, BikeTexas.org, Apple India, Sandisk