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Adventurers on solar bikes choosing their course through Eurasia. Inspired by unassisted yacht races around the world, the Sun Trip is writing a new page in the world of overland adventures.

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Géry & Baudouin : the Belgian friends

Géry & Baudouin Bay2Bay Géry & Baudouin Bay2Bay

The one (Géry Gevers) lives in Belgium and has already been on the road for Sun Trip France in 2020, where he received the the special jury award. The second (Baudouin de Hemptinne) works in San Francisco and is new to the Sun Trip world. Together they will ride under the Bay2Bay banner, in reference to their project of crossing the USA on solar bikes.

9 time zones separate them, but this duo of Belgian friends will certainly make some noise on our European event and especially on the big start in Belgium.

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Baudouin, we know you less than your illustrious comrade Géry. How do you define yourself in comparison to Géry?
I will first quote Alexandre Jollien, younger and probably wiser than me: “what increases suffering, and creates lack, is comparison. So I cannot reasonably compare myself to Gery!   We are so complementary.  Gery is “thoughtful and engineer,” I am more “impulsive and dreamy.”  And I love Jacques Brel when he says: “I believe that one succeeds in only one thing: one succeeds in one’s dreams.”  I had the dream to cross the USA where I live, by bike, and I proposed it to Gery, and we set up the project, which exceeded our ambitions by far.  The COVID having obliged us last year to pedal on two continents, me America and Gery, France.  He made me discover the Sun Trip and its soul, which conquered me. I also know that one never succeeds alone, and so leaving with Gery is also having the confidence that no problem will stop us for long…

Géry, you showed in 2020 that you could go fast, do you think that your duo team will be as successful?
First, what drives us is the spirit of adventure and sharing, not the pole position. It relieves us from the associated pressure. It frees up our minds, allows us to be « here and now,» to observe and be surprised. Our bikes are prepared for comfort and low maintenance rather than top-speed performances. They are, therefore, quite heavy and baggy.  Unfortunately, we can’t ride together before the trip as we live on two continents. It will be a total surprise when we’ll jump on our bikes and go and meet the mates from the prologue to welcome them to Belgium. Nevertheless, we enjoy adrenaline boost and do not desperate to break 300km distance on some sunny days.

How is the technical preparation going?
Having benefited from the experience of the Sun Trip tour 2020, and given my training, it is I (Géry) who is preparing the two bikes. They are very different even if the solar trailers will be identical. I’m back on my Pino (Hasebike) which has been my only means of transport for over a season. With 10,000 km on the clock, it needs a thorough mechanical overhaul. It’s a real discovery for me, an opportunity to marvel at the incredible number of precision parts assembled to make it turn. Baudouin wanted a comfortable bike that could be easily recovered in commute mode. We opted for a Super Délite (Riese&Muller) with the Rolhoff electronic 14 speed. A gem. The challenge is to unravel the mysteries of the Bosch controller to allow solar charging while riding. We’re getting there.

Have you already planned your route?
Not yet. Two main words: «below the sun and straight forward !”. As we don’t shoot for the podium (we shoot for victory), we would like to leverage the excellent team spirit between (frontline) suntrippers. The local weather forecasts, smartphone apps, and physical and mental conditions will allow us to prepare the daily routes for the rest. Let’s celebrate the adventure and the surprises!

For you, which part of the tour is the most extraordinary?
What we find extraordinary is the whole course, Europe! We love your tagline: “Let’s make Europe an adventure again.” It is so true. When we were younger, we were so excited about Europe. We had the “interrail” trains, the Erasmus for students abroad, a Europe to discover and build… Since then, the enthusiasm had somewhat dried up… Like when I was 20 years old, having the chance to go to find Europe is an incredible chance to reconnect with this original vibration.  Of course, there are places that we can’t wait to see or to see again… the sea is certainly not the least important: the Baltic, the Adriatic, the big blue or the Black Sea and finally the Atlantic Ocean.  I (baudouin) will also say that Porto attracts me a lot… Because I do not exclude to go to live in Portugal.

And if you argue during the trip, what will happen?
I love the question… I don’t think either of us has thought about yelling at each other or leaving the ship. We go that to the “rats” ;-)) … Our friendship dates back to June 1998, and since then, we have learned the strengths and weaknesses of each of us. We have shared them, even worked on them.  That said, we are not better than others, and there will be, perhaps, points which will be discussed (the route, the distance, the food…) but in the mutual respect which never failed us seems to us a sufficient guarantee of success.  However, I indeed have difficulty in apprehending how I will react in extreme tiredness?  I (baudouin) am not a very good sleeper, and lack of sleep is not necessarily the best friend of a good mood… I also think that we have taken a decision that will facilitate our friendship as much as necessary. This year we have opted for the two-bike option.  The rules even state that members of the same team can be (at most) 50 km apart, which gives some breathing space to those who need it.  Here is what should reassure anyone who would question the strength of the spirit that animates the team.

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