Q&A with Florian Bailly, solar bike traveller (France-Japan in 2010), founder of the Sun Trip and CEO of the Sun Trip Company.
Clearly not. The original concept of the Sun Trip as a rally will come back in the future, maybe even crazier than before!
With the Sun Trip Tour, the idea is to launch a new event concept that is easier to organize, less extreme, and shorter in order to reach a wider audience.
Eventually, the Sun Trip Tour could be held annually and the original Sun Trip rally would take place every 3 or 4 years on a longer, international course.
What other major differences are there between the ST Tour and the original Sun Trip?
The main difference is that it will be a much more collective event, in the spirit of a “caravan” that moves from town to town like we have done on the 2015 prologue between Chambery and Milan. There will be several stage-cities where all participants will come together and be accommodated together at a campsite, a lodge, a cottage or a hotel. These collective events will be held every two days approximately. Between each point, there will be total freedom, whether it’s about the itinerary, the pace or the places where participants wish to spend the night. The Sun Trip Tour is far from being a tour package!
Group time will be an opportunity for participants to experience great moments of sharing and build team spirit, but it will also for the be an opportunity for the Sun Trip make itself known by providing education and entertainment to stage-cities. We aim at being a caravan that brings both joy and innovation.
Another major difference: there is no concept of race on the ST Tour 2017. Beyond the conviviality and the mere discovery of the area, various contests will reward good solar energy management and efficient use of the electric assistance. Registration will not be selective, meaning that it is on a first come, first served basis, up to a maximum of 50 bikes. The technical regulations will be more simple, as we wish to leave as much room as possible for freedom in design and greet a wide array of solar bikes at the departure line.
Why did you choose Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes for 2017?
First, that region offers absolutely fantastic natural landscapes. From Auvergne to the great alpine passes, through Ardeche, Vercors, Chartreuse or the Jura Mountains, our participants are offered amazing beauty concentrated in just one trip.
Moreover, we are currently negotiating with the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regional government since the new regional borders allow us to design a Sun Trip Tour that underlines a territorial strategy, bridging the two former regions from Clermont-Ferrand to Lyon.
The wealth of landscapes and heritage on that territory make us believe that a Sun Trip Tour could be held on an annual basis with varied courses changing every year. We are confident that the Sun Trip Tour can become for Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes what La Grande Odyssée is to the Savoie-Mont-Blanc and attract tourists from all over Europe on our roads.
Beyond Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, the ST Tour concept could be adapted and reproduced elsewhere in the world in the upcoming years. In fact, this concept emerged from a project we had for an event in Morocco. Everything is possible.
What will ST Tour 2017 be like in terms of difficulty?
Our goal is always to demonstrate that solar energy allows us to experience great emotions, making the joy of going on a cycling trip more accessible. It is obviously a far more accessible adventure than the two Sun Trip editions (in 2013 and 2015). There’s no need to try to ride over 300 km per day.
The longest leg on ST Tour 2017 will not exceed 150 km. Overall, we are working on an itinerary with a daily average of roughly 110 km. These are distances that can be achieved by anyone who practices sport regularly. That is the advantage of electro-solar assistance.
The course will go through several mountainous areas of medium to high altitude. Three mountain passes over 2 000 m are on the menu, but otherwise the whole course was designed for participants to remain free to avoid some mountain ranges and take an easier route on the when they wish to do so. Everyone will keep a range of freedom regarding their course.
Will former Sun Trip participants attend the event in 2017?
Yes, some will be on the road as participants, possibly on a supervising duty. Others will speak about their experience at the stage-cities events. It will be an opportunity to meet up and to be reminded the feeling of their solar journey.
Other “alumni” will also be involved in some aspects of the organization through the Sun Trip association, a growing nonprofit that unites former Suntrippers and brings awareness of solar energy to a wider audience. The association wishes to be open its membership and events to the friends of the Sun Trip and the allies of ecomobility that support our actions.
How can someone without a solar bike participate?
10 months from departure is still early enough to find a solution. Everywhere in France and in Europe, we now find craftsmen of electric bikes and solar energy that can design a solar cycle.
Please note that there will be a promotion on the solar trailer (www.lasuntravel.com ) during the Sun Trip Tour 2017, with special prices on their rental and sale. Labelled by the Sun Trip, this trailer is suitable for a large proportion of the electric bikes on the market and the model equipped with a hub engine in the wheel may even be adapted on a conventional bicycle.
Finally, we are considering setting up a solar bike online marketplace, where former Suntrippers could sell or rent their gear.
How and until when can I register?
We just started a pre-registration phase that will last until late October. For now, you only need to fill out the form available on our website www.thesuntrip.com. For logistical reasons, enrollment is limited to 50 solar bicycles for this first edition of the ST Tour. It is safer to book your spot now, since in the last three days we already recorded 13 registrations, including two families!
The final registration phase will begin in November, requiring to pay the registration fees in order to settle the spot. It will last until the maximum amount of participants is reached.
In any case, the adventure is just beginning!