Today the last leg of our journey begins and we hit the road in the U S of A.
Setting off at noon from the San Francisco ferry port we will swing over the Golden Gate Bridge and then head south to San Jose.
Sungevity have organised a send off for us and are hoping to get a few people out for a ride (come down if you happen to be in the area/free for a couple of hours and in the possession of a push bike…) which will rock.
Or, as the nice guy in the phone shop said the other day. “Awesome, rad man, you’ve just blown my mind.”
I love America!
Everyone is so nice.
From the fantastic Quayle of Renewable Choice Energy who randomly bumped into us and bought us lunch the moment we arrived, Brian who picked us up, Sam who showed us the town (and was forced to spend three hours in mobile phone shops… maturely making paper aeroplanes to bide the time) and Tiffany who showed us that the way to drink beer is to always accompany it with a shot of tequila!
But the Brits have been battling it out for being the most amazing.
We arrived to a Thanksgiving feast courtesy of Birchy and Lulu our incredible hosts, were taken out for the day by Shaun and Alex and Jacqui from G24 has spent ages – though sadly unsuccessfully – trying to get us a welcome from Arnie.
In a nutshell, we have spent the last couple of days being thoroughly spoilt and blissfully happy.
Thank you all so much.
Today though, it is back on the road.
Sungevity – who, should you live in California – can provide you an immediate, no fee, no call out solar quote using their crazy genius software that does clever things with satellite images* have organised a send off for us and we are then heading down to meet G24 – who have made our thin film PV panniers – in San Jose.
So we get to restart with 50 miles, beautiful sunshine, beautiful people and beautiful roads.
A far cry from the 100 milers, blizzards and frostbite we encountered on the previous stint.
Highway 1 down the Californian coast is renowned as one of the greatest ocean cycles in the world. It has rolling hills, dramatic surf and perfect temperatures.
We’ll try to struggle through…
Anyway, finally I have got around to amending the route (which swerved off course in Syria…) and have updated our google map. Take a look to see where we have been / are going. It is not all that accurate (much as my distance measurements) but does give you an idea.
Now we have better network connection we should be streaming the tracker and heart rate etc again soon.
Anyway, for anyone reading this for the first time, I have just done an update so take a look below.
Otherwise, promise to get working on some random antics to bring you more tales from the road soon.
Hope the sun is shining where you are.
* UPDATE: The SolarCycle Diaries *
- Nine month round-the-world cyclıng expedition promoting solar power -
Having pedaled 15863 km across deserts, over mountains and through 14 countries, the SolarCycle team arrived in the US on Wednesday for the last stage of their round-the-world cycle expedition; a journey they have undertaken to promote solar power as a solution to climate change and to raise money for the charity, SolarAid.
On the 15th May, EU Solar Day, Susie Wheeldon, Jamie Vining and Iain Henderson, were waved off from City Hall – London’s most prominent solar building – by the Mayor, Boris Johnson as well as sponsors and supporters, Nokia, G24 Innovations, Solar Century and SolarAid.
Their journey took them from France to the North Coast of Africa, across the Middle East and Iran, over the mountainous ‘Stans’ and through China. Their ambitious route through a number of the worlds deserts was chosen to highlight the potential of these areas to provide solar energy.
The team are promoting the DESERTEC Concept; using concentrated solar power from the Sahara and Middle East to provide energy to Europe. This concept has been recently supported by a consortium of business leaders including Deutsche Bank and Munich Re. The DESERTEC Foundation plans to initiate further industrual initiatives in other regions, such as USA, India, China and Australia, to achieve its mission of realising the DESERTEC Concept – Clean Power from Deserts for a world with 10 billion people –.
Sadly, Iain had to return home from Kyrgyzstan but Susie and Jamie completed the journey through the Western Chinese Taklamakan desert ‘of no return’ to reach Shanghai last week. They arrived in San Francisco in time for a Thanksgiving feast courtesy of Sungevity founder, Andrew Birch.
During their trip, not only have the solar cyclists experienced the searing 50 degree heat of the deserts but also battled visa issues, psychotic traffic, blizzards, gales and the attention of over-friendly goat herders… Having crossed several 3700m peaks they recently climbed to the edge of the Tibetan plateau, the closest place on earth to the sun.
Using their trip to profile solar power in all its forms, the team have made ‘solar powered’ videos for the UK’s ‘We Support Solar campaign’ – highlighting the employment, climate and economic benefits of incentivising sustainable solar energy, visited solar power projects and been given a tour of the Kuraymat concentrating solar power station near Cairo. On the 23rd November they visited SunTech in Wuxi, China; the largest solar module manufacturer in the world.
All of this and more is being relayed to followers of the SolarCycle website courtesy of their Nokia kit and solar panelled panniers; custom built by G24 Innovations, these have been made using the latest in next-generation, dye-sensitised thin film photovoltatic technology. Daily progress and Jamie’s heart-rate is also being tracked in real-time using the Nokia Sports Tracker application.
Welcomed by the Vice President of the Public Utilities Commission, the SolarCyclists alongside supporters from Sungevity will pedal over the Golden Gate Bridge at 12 pm, Monday 30 November. They will then head to San Jose to meet up with sponsors G24 Innovations at the US Thin Film Solar Summit. Continuing their journey south they will visit a number of solar projects in California before heading East from San Diego to Gainesville where the University of Florida will host a ‘SolarCycle’ week. They will finish their journey with a trip to the De Soto Next Generation Solar Energy Centre in Florida; the largest photovoltaic plant in the country.
Before returning to the UK they will also compete in the Sebring 12 hour ultra marathon cycling race in the hope of putting their nine month long distance training to good use.
The SolarCycle Diaries support the DESERTEC Foundation, the ‘We Support Solar’ campaign and Nokia’s Green Explorer. The expedition also aims to raise sponsorship for the UK charity, SolarAid.
*All plugs by this site are naturally entirely unbiased. Though bribing us with the most incredible roast potatoes this side of the Atlantic does help…