A 43-year-old architect from Mechelen in the province of Antwerp won a 12,000 km bike ride from the French city of Lyon to Gangzhou in China. The Sun Trip race is for electric bikes powered by solar energy. It took Raf Van Hulle who is originally from Alken in Limburg Province took 45 days to complete the course.
This was more than a week quicker than the competitor that came in second. The Sun Trip is the World’s longest electric bike race. It is not the first time the Raf Van Hulle has won the race. He won the first Sun Trip from France to Kazakhstan in 2013 and he was in the top 3 riders in the 2015 race.
Focus on the bike
Raf Van Hulle helped build his electrically powered bicycle. “It is an aerodynamic bike that weighs just 55 kilos and requires very little energy to power it. My bike has a power of 1,000 watts a can travel at speeds of between 35 to 38 km/h. I was able to complete stages of around 300km/day. You need to be alert every day, watch where you’re riding and deal with every strange sound you hear while you are on your way. You are constantly occupied with you bike”.
The effect of racing such a long distance though long stretches of unspoiled nature should be underestimated.
“I’m ok as regards fatigue. After the first time I participated in 2013 I was exhausted. This time I knew how hard it would be. Amazingly I have been completely spared from technical problems. I went for first place and had someone just behind me until the Chinese border. However, he then went the wrong way and all I had to do then was keep my bike going. The person nearest to me still has 1,200 kilometres to go and won’t arrive until next week”, Raf Van Hulle told VRT News
He added that he had got used to dealing with heat that he had encountered en route. In Kazakhstan he cycled through a windchill factor of 50°C.
“It’s a passion”
But why did Raf van Hulle decide to take part in the race for the third time? “It’s a passion. I am really interested in new technology. Especially the way in which you can travel long distances without oil or petrol. Using solar power to transport people is phenomenal, isn’t it? It is the first time that we have been able to travel long distances on land using natural power. Ships used to take months to cover such distances”.