When Sushil Reddy goes out for a bike ride, he taps into the most abundant energy resource on the earth.
Reddy, who visited the Central Washington University campus Monday, is using a solar-powered electric bike, and the sunnier it is, the more power the bike has.
An electric bicycle still requires the rider to pedal, but will also provide power to the wheels, meaning the bike can move faster for longer, with less effort from the rider. Normally, electric bikes need to be charged up before each ride, but with Reddy’s solar powered motor, he can charge the bike as he rides.
Reddy isn’t alone, he is riding with Luis Fourzan who is using a standard electric bike. The two are recording data, during their ride, and will compare how effective the solar bike is compared to the standard electric model.
“The whole idea of the project is to raise awareness for solar energy, electric living and healthy living,” Reddy said.
Reddy is from India, Fourzan is from Mexico and the two met in Iceland through a mutual friend Reddy met while attending university in Paris. Reddy was showing a solar-powered bike in Iceland, and asked Fourzan if he could drive a support car (a vehicle that carries things like food and water for the biker). Afterwards, Fourzan told Reddy that he would be interested in any other projects he had lined up. Eventually, they got together for this ride across the U.S.
They have been stopping at a lot of places during their trip, and answered questions about their bikes and their journey at Central Washington University Monday morning.
The two cyclists started their journey in North Carolina, where the solar bike was built custom, and have been riding to Seattle for the last 80 days. Seattle isn’t the end of the trip, instead they will turn southeast and start riding for the finish line in Houston. The entire journey will be around 6,900 miles, and will take roughly 140 days.
Fourzan said he and Reddy are not normally “hardcore” bikers, and didn’t receive training before making this trip.
“This is one of the things we want to showcase in this ride, basically anybody can start riding a bike with an E-bike,” Fourzan said. “You dont have to be very fit. We started without any training and we are still going.”
There is no support car for this journey, instead they are using a program that lets cyclists from all over couch surf in each other homes during cross country journeys. They also have a number of sponsors, providing them with money for food and water, as well as the occasional hotel.
Reddy said the bike was designed by him. He knew what kind of parts he wanted to make the solar bike, and which companies to buy from. The bike was put together by Sol Mobil Electric in North Carolina, where they started the journey.