A discreet man by nature, Michel Bertet is no less fast. So, after 40 days of adventure, he is in 5th place in the solar challenge. He has participated in several regional Sun Trips in the past, and this is his first major Sun Trip, which he has obviously prepared well!
Currently south of Valencia (Spain), Michel should be in 2 days on the slopes of the famous Pico Veleta (3360m).
Some questions to better understand his adventure.
Did you expect to be 5th in the solar challenge?
I was aiming from the beginning to have the same pace as Herman Segers. But he has more experience than me, and I have too much baggage. What surprises me is that I have no injuries and no problems in the hills, which are like sprints… endurance sprints…
How do you deal with loneliness?
I don’t feel lonely because I’m always communicating with my family and friends and Herman and Ralf. The only lonely moment is at the end of the day, when you have to find the campsite or the hotel: it’s stressful but you become creative and you are highly motivated to find it. Basically, I love it and it’s incredible that it almost always ends well (only 2 wild crappy campsites).
Can you describe a typical day?
On a typical day, I do 220 km. But depending on the sun, it varies from 170 to 250. It’s a permanent balance between speed-consumption and battery level.
There is even a very large number of parameters to integrate: battery level at the beginning of the day / sun / orientation of the route / obstacles to overcome / shopping to do / meal breaks if appropriate / etc..
I don’t have a panel to deploy at the stop, so the interest of the poses is limited for me. On the other hand, my panel is easily adjustable so I can have a good capture while riding: except with front or back sun, except when there is too much wind preventing to tilt the panel. The strategy adapted to my bike is to load while riding and to make little pose, and to ride less fast.
The most difficult moment for you? The hardest part for me was the climb of Passo Stelvio, but I’m at fault because I have too much luggage: more than 30kg with spare parts, tools, clothes, freeze-dried food, tent & sleeping, popote, etc: 10k too much! Today, shortly after Valencia, I had to face slopes of 17%: twice I had to carry the luggage up the hill and then ride up the hill with the bike without luggage. Another complicated moment, during our meeting with Frederic in a small village in Lithuania, I noticed that someone had just stolen my pannier with all the clothes : that’s why I decided to make a detour to the Decathlon in Vilnius !
The best part?
the best part was Constanta-Passo Stevio, with often common hotel with other participants (Ralf, Herman).
Are you afraid of the Iberian game, announced as the hardest by the leaders?
The Pico Veleta scares me, so I have to drop a maximum of luggage… Otherwise, I hope for a maximum of sun and warmth.
What do you think of Europe, which you have been visiting for 40 days now?
On the first part of the journey, Europe is a huge cultivated land. In this part, the Danube is impressive by its dimensions, and on the second part until today, it is mountainous or arid landscapes. Otherwise, everywhere our solar panels provoke discussions in all languages, as well as abundant congratulations.