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D48 – Jean-Louis Mérelle, an adventurer at heart!

31.05.2024 - The Sun Trip
The Sun Trip The Sun Trip

DAY 49 <-> DAY 47

He arrived with tears in his eyes at around 4.30pm on 30 May 2024, under one of the rare sunny skies of the day. His first sentence was: “If it hadn’t been for the Sun Trip, I would never have undertaken such an adventure!

At 68, Jean-Louis Mérelle was the (young) doyen of the 2024 edition, and although this was his first major cycling adventure, and a solar one at that, the man is a real jack-of-all-trades. Alpinism, ULM, speleology, diving, electronics in all its forms, Jean-Louis is a true adventurer at heart and he proved it on this Sun Trip 2024 by delivering a complete performance, in terms of technique, communication and state of mind!

His history with the Sun Trip goes back to July 2019, when he already had the idea of taking up solar cycling and by chance came across the Sun Trip Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, which was stopping off in Chamonix. On his way home, he started following our adventures and joined us last year for the Sun Trip Alpes 2023. Unfortunately, he was slowed down on this edition by an engine failure, but he hung in there and made it to the finish!

A year later, he was at the start of his first major Sun Trip, bound for the Sahara. “I signed up as a backpacker, but I also like to race sometimes,” he says when it’s confirmed that he’s finished 9th in the solar challenge, in 48 days and 4 hours!

It has to be said that the performance was remarkable, with an average of over 160km every day and an almost daily trip report, Jean-Louis lived up to the spirit of the Sun Trip. “My daily record was 265 km, in Spain on the outward journey I averaged around 25km/h, I had to camp for 40 nights out of 48 and otherwise enjoyed using Polarstep”.

Like many of the other participants, his best memory of the trip was the mountainous area after Zagora on the way up to the north of Morocco, “clearly the most authentic part of the route, with magnificent colours and friendly people”, but he also really enjoyed the climb back up from Spain “with lots of very pleasant, quiet countryside”.

Beyond the adventure and the solar energy, this Sun Trip 2024 was also a personal and intimate challenge for Jean-Louis. A story that he has transcribed here with these few thoughts:

“I’ve had 2 heart operations, benign operations but operations nonetheless. At that point, my sporting life took a serious hit. I no longer had any confidence in myself. I felt I was getting old. And then I slowly got back into sport, learning how my heart was now going to work.

And then I remembered the incredible people who, after a disability, bounce back and take on challenges that, without the disability, they would never have achieved. I thought these people were wonderful and I told myself at the time that if anything happened to me, I should follow their determination. And then I said to myself: now it’s happening to me, you have to react as you said you would. That’s why I continued to do sport, even though my doctor told me “Now you need to calm down, you’re not young any more…”. But you know doctors.

In short, in 2023 I signed up for the Sun Trip Alpes, which went perfectly and on arrival I felt that I could do more, much more. So, with the agreement of my cardiologist and my wife, I signed up for the Sun Trip Destination Sahara 2024! But my cardiologist had no idea of the scale of the challenge.

So now I’ve done it, and I’m really pleased to be able to pass on the message that, at my age and after operations, it’s still possible to challenge yourself in one way or another, both psychologically and physically!

I’ll end with this little exchange on Facebook that I had with Mike Horn, that great adventurer that some of you must know, where he wished me “Good luck for the Sun Trip Alpes. “He said that “Dreams are not made to remain dreams but to be realised” and that “True adventure is knowing how to get out of your comfort zone! Thanks Mike, I’ve done it! “

Well done Jean-Louis!

Solar challenge on Day 48

  • 1 : Jack Butler, in 23 days and 2 hours
  • 2 : Jean-Marc Dubouloz, in 23 days and 6 hours
  • 3 : Kilian & Jonas, in 33 days and 8 hours
  • 4 : Géry & Baudouin, in 35 days and 8 hours
  • 5 ex aequo : Vincent Gallego et Luciano Trumpler, in 41 days and 2 hours
  • 7 : Vivien Dettwiler, in 43 days and 6 hours
  • 8 : Herman Segers, in 46 days and 3 hours
  • 9 : Jean-Louis Mérelle, in 48 days and 4 hours

Live Map :

A selection from his 2024 adventure

DAY 49 <-> DAY 47

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