You have heard about the Sun Trip probably. Our marketing guru Honza has raced in its first edition in 2013 and few others have participated in 2015 and 2018 on AZUB recumbents. This year Samuel & Baptiste from Team Urbasolar used the Ti-FLY 26 and came first to the finish of the short version. Samuel was kind enough to give us an interview.
Give us some statistic data first, so we know what we are talking about.
We were registered on the Sun Trip for the “small version”. It represents around 7000 km, the complete one is around 10000km. We were on the road for 26 days, 24 days cycling, and 2.5 days off for race communication needs and visits. So roughly 285km per day. And even more on the way back from Constanta to Lyon (305km/day). The race started from Brussels (Belgium), then we had to reach Riga (Baltic Sea coast, Latvia), Constanta (Black Sea coast, Romania), Passo Stelvio (2758 high, Italy), and Lyon (France). Itinerary, accommodation in between is free, without any assistance.
There is a rule on the race, we are allowed to cycle from 6 am to 9 pm.
When have you decided to participate in The Sun Trip and why?
We were keen on preparing some adventure, we had some other experience on other parts of the world. This race is also a good opportunity to demonstrate how a bicycle is an efficient means for transportation. And with solar panels, it works very very well!
The Sun Trip is a good mix of adventure, sport, people and landscape discovery. Exactly what we like.
Why have you chosen the Ti-FLYs?
We had a revue of different kind of bikes : “normal”, recumbents, 2 wheels, 3 wheels, with or without a trailer. We concluded that a trike was a good compromise between weight, stability, comfort. AZUB trikes were a good choice as they seems to be robust. Last question with or without front suspension…as we expected some different road quality, we choose the Ti-Fly.
Can you give us some technical details about your bikes / motors / solar panels, please.
The race has some technical rules, we add more or less the maximum allowed solar panel surface and battery capability: 480Wp solar panels, 1kWh battery, 1kW motor. The motor is in the back wheel, which seems to be more reliable than on the chainset. The disadvantage of the hub-motor: efficiency losses when you climb steep slope as Passo Stelvio.
We built an aluminium structure for PV modules. Battery was packed in standard bicycle bag.
Would you make some changes to it with the experience you have now?
We are very happy of the bike in the current configuration. The improvement that we can imagine would be to have the possibility to tilt the solar panels to better use solar energy in the morning and evening. But this shall be reliable!
Who has done the conversion to solar powered vehicle and who has built the construction?
The motor integration has been done by Declic Eco, a French company specialist of solar and electrical bikes. The solar panel structure and electrical connection has been done by ourself.
Are there any unique technical details used on the trikes?
No, its really simple and efficient. Nothing very tricky on what we have done.
How did you prepare for the race? How much in detail did you prepare the route?
We are quite used to prepare such kind of project; we had three main topics: bikes, personal and common stuff to be as reduces as possible and route preparation.
For the bikes, we cycle quite often during spring to discover and fix the mechanical issues. In parallel we had a complete preparation of the route, with different options for some parts. We use a lot google maps, street view to get an idea of the traffic and road condition.
For final preparation we spent 3 days in “race mode”, with all the stuff we wanted to take with us.
Which part of the route did you like most?
Eastern countries and the Alps were the most beautiful and surprising areas we crossed.
And what was the most difficult moment?
We had a very strong storm during a night in Romania. We spent part of the night holding the tent to avoid tent flysheet to tear. In the morning we discovered that the wind capsized one of the trike !
Why did you decide to go through Belarus? One would consider it “tricky” at least.
We were very curious to see how things are going, how people are living. This is one of the reasons we like to travel. It was an opportunity to have an overview of Belarus, so we prepared one route crossing the country. And with the current situation, it was, even more, a temptation…
It was also a way to have a Sun Trip Europe visiting our neighbors (Ukraine and Moldavia too) and make some connection on “human level”, not political.
What was the experience finaly?
It was a great experience, all worked well, we had good time together, we met nice people, discovered stunning places. What else?
What about climbing the mountain passes, was it difficult?
We were lucky with the weather, the sun was there for the highest passes, so it was not so difficult. We had also one pass in Austria with rain, we had to use a lot our legs, but it was fine at the end of the day.
How did your common day look like?
Days were long and tiring!
- Wake up : 5:10 am
- 6 am on the bike
- Several breaks around 9 am and 12 pm to rest a bit and charge the batteries.
- Depending on weather conditions, some break in the afternoon. Diner around 6:30 pm and then cycle up to 8 pm or 8:30 pm to find a place to camp.
- Shower, laundry, and sleep!
And the relationship between you and your mate? Did you have any difficult moments?
Not at all, we know each other very well, so it helps a lot
Any funny situations on the road?
One morning we had a stork taking off, just in front of us, flying for a long time few meters above the road at the same speed as our bikes. It was really magical!
And we had a lot of funny situation when looking for solution to repair the small issues on the bikes.
Would you go again?
Who knows… If AZUB is preparing a velomobile, we can be a candidate to test it!
Are there any other topics you would like to mention?
We had no experience of cycling a trike, it was a very good choice! The Ti-FLY is comfortable, robust and reliable.
Thank you for your interview!