In the summer of 2018 Grin decided to participate in the Suntrip Solar Ebike Race, both as a sponsor by designing and supplying datalogging boxes for all the teams, and also as participants with Justin and his partner Anne-Sophie riding a solid half of the event. This is page was meant to consolidate in one place links to the various posts, videos, pictures, and media mentions for those following the trip. A year after the event we edited together the various footage to make a short documentary "3 Wheels Under the SUn" that was presented at the 2020 Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival. You can watch that here too:
Endless-Sphere Forum Posts
Forum discussion Justin and other ebikes enthusiasts getting into technical details about our build and our trip before and during the trip:
MORE TO COME
We started an instragram account for Grin halfway through the trip and uploaded some choice pictures along the way: https://www.instagram.com/grin_tech/
Publications/Media about our trip:
Bulgarian newspaper: http://e-svilengrad.com/2018/07/04/???????-???????????-?-??????????-???/
Vidéo CNN Turk : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_hKg2_xvJs
Kharabara Online (in Farsi)
Tehran Times (in english)http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/425637/Solar-bikers-traverse-Iran-en-route-from-France-to-China
CGTN News (nice video clip)https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d3d514d324d444d79457a6333566d54/share_p.html
Here are some pictures from each country we traveled.
We started musing about this trike plan in the fall of 2017, but didn't actually get to work on it until April of 2018 when we found a tandem trike for sale on Craigslist. Things moved slowly at first but in the last few weeks before departure the whole team at Grin went full-on to get this vehicle built up and shipped to France in time.
We had the trike components shipped to France one week before the event started so that we had time to re-assemble everything and make last-minute improvements, and also sort out our necessarily travel Visa's at the embassies in Paris. The Suntrip crew and participants gathered in Lyon for several days before departing as a group towards the Alps. This gave us an opportunity to meet and spend time with all the other riders and gave everyone a chance to field test their gear in some difficult conditions before the real race start on July 19th.
We left Chamonix, France, at 10 in the morning, and by noon we had already going over our first mountain pass and entered Switzerland, and then by the end of the day we had already climbed another mountain pass and entered Italy. It was an epic and sunny first day and our our last chance to see all the other riders before everyone headed out on their own path at their own pace. We covered 199km and over 6000 meters of elevation change.
We were one of a small number of teams to take a southern route through Italy. The hazy skies reduced the solar collection and a few days in we had our first clouds and rain, but a visit to the Osteria Ai Ioppi human powered amusement park made sure made up for that.
Slovenia was a bit like switzerland. Almost perfect roads, countryside views, impeccable villages, and just like Switzerland we were through it in no time.
Inside Croatia we had some of our first setbacks of the trip, including multiple flat tires and the failure of the freewheel mechanism of our rowing system. But a miraculous Sunday evening repair from a freelance bike mechanic kept us rolling, and the generosity of the Croatian people coupled with their world cup soccer victory against Iceland meant we were very well taken care of. The many abandoned and war scarred houses we passed added a more somber element to the ride.
Our initial route didn't go through Serbia as we wanted to ride down the coast, but we changed plans to avoid the extensive mountain ranges. We had a chance to meet up with another pair of suntrip riders (The Viguers) outside of Belgrade, and were well accommodated by locals, letting us sleep in a boat near the Danube river, and being served plums and cucumbers fresh from the garden.
Unfortunately much of our intial time in Bulgaria was spent in the city of Sofia waiting for a care package shipment from Grin and attempting to get a broken cell phone repaired. The highway conditions and sun situation was excellent though, and we were able to get back into the swing of covering long distances each day.
We had heard great things about cycling through Turkey and our experience validated that for sure. The roads were great, the food and hospitality were excellent, and the sun was beaming down uninterrupted the entire time. We took a ferry to skip past Istanbul and did a southern detour to pass through the famed Cappadocia region, and ended up crossing paths with Waiwon Ching of eZee bike both at the begning and near the end of the country.
Inside Iran we had both our highest of highs and lowest of lows on the trip. There were weather extremes and cultural differences in terms of personal space that we found challenging, yet we also met and stayed with the absolute loveliest people and had encounters that we will never forget. The very last leg over the mountains from the southern Caspian Sea to Tehran we took by truck due to time and safety considerations. In the end we were able to delay our departure from Tehran by several days to spend time exploring the city and meeting with people and press. We were very fortunate to have been hosted by a fellow Shahab who is involved with a group of people doing EV related work at an energy research institute, and got to meet other engineers looking to develop some kind of ebike scene in the country.
The reason we ended the trip in Tehran and not in China is of course because we (AnSo and Justin) had a wedding date set in early August. After flying back and readjusting from all the emotions of the trip, we sailed to Justin's family home town of Sooke and went to task preparing an entire wedding too. That included building a dock on the water and preparing a custom firework show on the water with a lit up and animated pyro unicycle.