The Sun Trip Tour 2017’s second stage started with the guest appearance of the mayor of Puy en Velay but also with the president of AURA Region, Laurent Wauquiez. The latter strongly supported the idea of the Sun Trip, underlining its values of “innovation, technology and environment”. Laurent Wauquiez also spoke about the AURA Region’s goal to be a European reference when it comes to cyclotourism, “with the creation of more than 400 km greenways in the years to come”.
In the early moments of this stage, it was also decided to put two bikes inside the following truck : that of US participant Ryan Gillespie and that of Louis Rannou from the SMILE Team, leaving his teammate David behind. Those solar bikes were sadly not in sufficiently good state to function reliably. In order to give them a chance to pursue the adventure with all the others, we transferred them to Lans-en-Vercors so that they have plenty of time and support to fix their vehicles properly. Louis found help to repair his bike, while Ryan got offered a « brand new »solar bike as a collaboration between the Sun Trip Team and the Vécolo association. This bike was assembled in a few hours from an ebike, the trailer lent by Velocité il Clermont-Ferrand and old skis as solar panels support !
En route, participants climbed on a plateau linking the Haute-Loire with Ardèche where they discovered rural landscapes and pittoresque villages. However, the rain, the storm, and even the hail made it much harder for participants to enjoy. Peter and An had to seek refuge under a school bus stop shed.
A few dozen kilometer further,the descent into the Rhone River Valley put an end to the last days’ bad weather, although there were still a few showers the morning after. The Sun Trip Tour 2017 definitely had rainy beginnings.
In the morning, the bad weather ended up drowning Daniele Gonano‘s poor battery. Thankfully, our Technical Director Guillaume Devot managed to lend him another one and our Italian participant hopped back on the saddle, although he won’t have a chance on the 100 % Solar Energy challenges.
The Massif du Vercors was mainly climbed through th Bourne River Valley, but a group of five courageous cyclists aimed further South on the Col de Rousset, climbing 20 km in gorgeous laces ove the town of Die ! Still riding 100% with solar energy, Michel and Louis’ batteries were almost empty and decided to ride 40 km without assistance in order to spare enough energy to climb. But this detour and the tricky weather made them arrive in Lans past the cut-off time for the Super Suntripper Challenge. Despite riding 236 km, they were penalized on this stage. Béatrice, Yannick et Isabelino were no longer 100 % in solar energy, but they went that way for the pleasure of riding. Two years after taking part in the Milan-Antalya-Milan Edition in Turkey, Béatrice and Yannick are now cycling with two friends sharing a third bike designed by Yannick “MacGyver” Aspe.
Towards the end of the stage, all the cyclists reached the Gorges de la Bourne, a spectacular road literally carved in stone! For many participants, this Vercors road was a novelty. Here again, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region offered a fabulous landscape.
Actually, Jean-Louis Machado, or Jean-Louis Abrasracourcix as he nicknames himself since he has a disability, rode on that road with delight. Originally from Southern France, he tells journalist Jean-Christophe Solari about the pleasure he had there in this video produced by France 3 Alpes in the context of our media partnership.
At the finish line in Lans-en-Vercors where the sun was finally back, participants seemed relaxed. Some used all their electricity in order to get there, others still had power left for the alpine mountains ahead. In total, twelve teams managed to make it to Lans before the challenges cut-off time charging only with the solar energy. Despite the rain on the first three days, they are riding with the sun!
Participants were greeted on the main square by many fans and intrigued passerbys. Downhill skiing olympic champion Carole Montillet, also an elected official, came to meet the participants and congratulate them for their performances. We also got to discover the strange solar quadricycle from the Donet family, who failed to get their bike in a reliable technical state before the departure. We were also joined by Alain Ietter, absent from the main departure for personal reasons.
We’d like to salute the perseverance of a few late arrivals : the student of KU Leuven, at 7:30 PM, David, participant from Team SMILE around 8:30 PM and Belgian Christian Noiret, last solar warrior, exceptionally arriving at 9:30 PM!
For the Challenges, Jean-Yves Schneeberger managed to earn the Super Suntripper badge for the first time, riding 216 km.
Christophe Dugué earned his second badge on the Photo Challenge, supported by dedicated Facebook fans…
On this stage, Indian participant Sushil Reddy was rescued with the following truck after experiencing a series of technical issues in the Rhone Valley…
We ended that day with a communal dinner in a restaurant, and camping on the village’s football field, under an open sky!
To be followed…