Belgian Van Hulle finishes 12,000-km Sun Trip in 45 days

Belgium’s Raf Van Hulle arrived in south China’s Guangzhou on Friday, after a 12,000-kilometer journey on his solar electric bike, securing first place in the Sun Trip 2018 cycling challenge.

The event, founded in 2013, is one of the largest overland adventures in the world and advocates of green mobility. This year’s participants, solo or duo, are required to ride from French city of Lyon to Guangzhou with solar energy as the sole means of electricity charging and conservation for bicycles.

The cyclists are not to be followed by support vehicles and they must choose their own itinerary. Van Hulle finished his route in only 45 days, crossing France, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and China.

The 43-year-old met the biggest challenge in Gobi Dessert in Northwest China.

“The most difficult part were the side winds in the Gobi Dessert. Sometimes the wind was so hard that I fell off the road twice. And it was very difficult to hold the bike straight,” Van Hulle told Xinhua.

“Another challenge was the heat in Kazakhstan.” He added, “With hot wind it felt like 50 degrees and you constantly had to drink and put water on your T shirt to get fresh.”

Van Hulle, also a designer and architect, rode an average of about 270 kilometers during his adventure, and set a personal day record of an astonishing 397 kilometers.

He said that aside from his physical strength and determination, it was his 50-kg aerodynamic bike that made it happen.

“I worked for a long time on this project with three companies. The solar panels, specially made for universities and for NASA, are highly efficient. The way I put them on aluminium is also innovative. It’s very strong and good.”

The Belgian was the only one that arrived on Friday. Other riders of Sun Trip 2018 are expected to arrive in Guangzhou successively in August.

The event is also to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the twinning of Guangzhou and Lyon.