cycling on solar power

When preparing for this trip I made a rough calculation that I would need 3 panels to power my bicycle. At each stop I would set up the 3 panels aim them at the sun collecting between 120..200W (total output of 3 panels) depending on the suns intensity. While cycling I still collect some power from the top panel but this energy is only a very small portion (20..30%) of the total energy needed for the trip.

On average the calculation worked out well but it is still a challenge to get the most out of the available daylight. In optimum conditions (crisp blue sky, flat surface, straight path and no wind) 4 hours…

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Travelling with a recumbent bicycle

In France, Spain and Portugal recumbent bicycles are not very common and people often react very surprised. Comforably leaning backward, looking at the scenery and waving at surprised faces is a great expierence. 

I think for a long distance road trip a recumbent bicycle is a much better choice than a standard touring bicycle. It is almost as comfortable as a car seat and lets you enjoy the scenery without stressing your neck muscles. There is also less stress on the wrists, no saddle pains, and no need to wear special pants. The only time I would prefer a…

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camping in Portugal

During my trip through Portugal from North to South, I tried to follow the coast as much as possible for several reasons : fewer hills, more cycling paths and more campings that would be open in the low season. Campings located close to popular beaches are often too big and not very attractive. The worst place I camped was on Parque de Esmoriz in Esmoriz: 

 

Tightly packed caravans, fences, lights, concrete paving and guards walking around day and night.  It feld like a prison camp and I was happy to be released from this place in the morning.

Orbitur https://www.orbitur.pt/ is a chain of campings that are usually open all year and offer a bit more space and vegetation.

Below are some other nice places in…

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cycling in Portugal

Like most European countries there are not so many cycling paths in Portugal. Fortunately the roads are either very quiet or have a wide shoulder to cycle on. In general motorists drive responsibly and give much room to cyclists.  Most roads are paved with good quality asphalt except roads through villages which are often paved with the cobble stones which are less comfortable to cycle on.

If you think you can simply follow the official EuroVelo 1 (Atlantic roast route) through Portugal, think again. This route is not marked anywhere. To be precise during the whole trip I only saw a single EV1 marker close to Lissabon.

The suspension bridge across the Tagus in Lissabon is not for cyclists but you can…

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Camping in Spain

A typical Spanish camping often looks like the satellite image above. You will be close to other people and not very close to nature. I was happy to find some nice exeptions which I have listed below:

 

  1. Camping Arizitigain in Sunbilla. A beautiful grassy camping. Cycling from Irun to Pamplona it is a good place to prepare for crossing the Pyrenees. There is good food and a small shop.


     

  2. Camping Camino de Santiago in CastroJeriz. The camping was pleasant to stay and I had some good laughs…

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Cycling in Spain

I was a bit afraid of cycling in Spain after what I heard : “there are no cycling paths and Spanish drive like crazy”. Well that's not true. The cities do have cycling paths and Spanish are very cautious on passing cyclists. Another pleasant surprise: there are many good roads that hardly have any traffic because there is a motorway going in the same direction. With so little traffic it is like cycling on the widest and best cycling path ever.

 

There are also some roads to avoid in Spain. One of them…

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Battery-assembly

Johan recommended to increase the size of my battery and I was glad I listened to him. There were those days that the sun just did not appear and I wanted to escape from places where I did not want to be; like overcrowded campings. At such moments that extra energy is very welcome.

My battery is made up of a 100 type 18650 cells. The 18650 cells format is the most common on the market and are used for laptops, bicycles and even cars. 10 cells in parallel and 10 of these banks in series. Such a configuration is sometimes called 10p10s.

Example 3p2s:

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Camping in France

Camping in France

Painting an ideal camping for me would need mostly green colours and very little white (caravans, chalets and campers). But when you are cycling long distances you cannot be too picky. In France I have found that the close at a beach campings can be quite expensive and offer less comfort. The best campings I found were at the farm. They offered everything I needed and often you can buy fresh ecological food. You can find these farms on the website : www.accueil-paysan.com




 

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Cycling in France

It was big surprise to me that there are so many long distance cyclepaths in France. I estimate that about 3/4 of my trip through France I was om cycepaths separated from motor-vehicles. Often these cyclepaths run along old railway lines or rivers and have moderate inclination and lots of shade. 

When cyclist do have to share the road with the cars there are traffic signs like this:

The only time I was nervous was crossing over a bridge in LeHavre where there was only a very narrow shoulder and many…

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Solar panels

Unlike panels that are normally used of roof of buildings the panels that I use are lighter and can flex a bit. The individual cells , encapsulated in very stiff plastic (ETFE) are made of Silicium, which is a material like glass thsat can break.

When this flex panel has no rigid underground it will break easily by for instance by hail stones. The result is very much reduced output. Johan experienced this. To inspect a panel for micro-cracks put a bright light behind it in a dark room and view the panel from the front. When you see micro cracks it is not good news for the panel. You may stil…

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Climate change

"We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making"

The above text is copied from Extinction Rebellion website  https://rebellion.earth/, an international organisation calling for a rebellion against governments who are being too passive when it comes to climate change.

You may think these people are dramatising a bit just to get our attention, but personally I fear that they are right. The first time I realised this was when I visited a glaciers in Norway 10 years ago showing evidence of very rapid retreat.  On…

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Tojeiro

Tojeiro is a small hippie village in the mountains of the West Algarve. Rudolf and Katharina started their project in 2009 on idealistic ideas inspired by books like "Wu wei":

Rudolf explained to me that human kind has been living in small groups of up to 30 individuals for hundreds of thousands of years.This way of social living is still in our genes. Men and woman and children as a group, everybody takes care and does what he or she is best at.

He considers the traditional family an artificial invention from the…

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Navigation system

The ideal navigation system for me would select the best and safest roads without distracting my attention from the traffic too much. Unfortunately I have not found such a system yet.

I started my journey with a Garmin Origon 700. This device enabled me to plan trip ahead on a laptop using Garmins planning software : Basecamp. Each day I would recharge two sets of AA batteries and connect the device to my laptop for loading routes that I planned.

It seems Garmin is phasing out Basecamp because the software…

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Cycling in the Netherlands

In june 2018 I tested my vehicle for the first time cycling to Friesland in the north of the Netherlands

foto : Areal Promos  https://aerialpromos.nl/
 
Friesland is also famous for its 'Elfstedentocht' (Eleven City Tour) which is a large ice skating event that can only be held when the natural ice is thick enough to carry thousands of people. Unfortunately for all that love this event, it becoming less and less likely that it will repeated ever due to climate change. The Frisians however are adapting and are now organising tour of road vehicles and boats and even swimmers. Only vehicles that are driven without fossil fuel may participate of course.
 
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Electrical system

Because I am an electronic engineer I decided to buy a recumbent bicycle convert it to an electrical bicycle myself. I have designed all the electronic boards with exception of the motor-controller. Below is a schematic of the whole system electrical system:


 

PV panels : semi flexible solar panels (100Wpeak each) mounted on aluminium frame, source Ali-express

MPPT : this device boosts the voltage from the panels (~15V) to a higher voltage (~40V) for charging the battery. It also adjusts the current drawn from each panel so it will give highest possible output.…

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Johans Solar Trike

Johan is a friend who build his own solar powered tricycle. This is his personal contribution to my blog:

40 years ago Sir Clive Sinclair, an English inventor, was far ahead of his time with his 'C5'. He designed and manufactured a single person vehicle that was driven by an electric motor combined with muscle power. The basic technology that was available to him was not as good as it is today. He had to use lead batteries instead of Lithium batteries. A 1kWh in a lead battery would weigh about 25kg, while today the same energy can be stored in…

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