sun tour america

In 2013, 'The Sun Trip' was held. Some 35 solar e-bike and e-trike adventurers went from France to Kazakhstan, a 7,300 kilometer (4,500 mile) one-way Sun Trip. Other Sun Tours are possible. Click on to enlarge.

sun tour sun tour sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip sun trip

Sun Tour America's Sun Tours:

  1. Will not be a race. The Sun races not and Sol smiles upon the leisurely, so think tour, not race.
  2. Will be round trips. Those who gather at a starting location may not get there by LEV (Light Electric Vehicle). A chosen starting location must provide storage for vehicles that may be left behind. The starting point will therefore be the ending point. As T.S. Eliot noted, “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
  3. Will involve self-sufficiency combined with mutual aid. Competition is de-emphasized, though friendly competition happens.
  4. Anyone can be an organizer and propose a route, then invite others. There will be no entrance fees; participants will pay their own way. Sun Tour America endeavors to help and accepts gratuitous donations only. Covering costs is nice, but we're not about making money.
  5. Participants will not have to pass a physical exam nor be athletic. Average fit humans (the unfit should consult their doctor) with e-motor assist should be able to keep up, including the fit elderly. If not 'fit', ride using just good old human power for a few months and achieve ordinary fitness. The group will not go faster nor further than the above average but sub-athletic—the 150W fit human, without assist, can go (see: The Limits of Human Power).
  6. Electric motors enable the less than athletic wunderkinds to tour, to keep up with the very fit, and solar frees them from the plug. Motors are not to be used to go faster than normal bikes ridden by the somewhat strong of leg.
  7. Those who can tour on human power alone can eat their solar power and forget about motors, batteries, and panels. ICE motors not allowed, but humans with or without assisted solar e-power are welcome.
  8. While the pace may seem too leisurely to some (about 50 miles on pavement, 80 km a day), this gives the more activity tolerant time for side trips, and there are always side trips worth taking. On unpaved roads, rolling resistance is much higher, so average distance maybe half as far.
  9. To keep expenses down, camping out will be the norm. But to each their own according to their wallet. Trips do not go from motel to motel, so camping will often be required, and will not necessarily be in a developed campground.
  10. There will be no off-road travel (as in following deer trails), but off-pavement travel will be common, so vehicles should be off-pavement, dirt road friendly.
  11. LEVs with big motors and enough batteries could easily exceed any human ability, but to keep e-bikes as bikes, Sun Tour America suggests designers focus on enabling the less than very fit to keep up, thereby doing the most good for the greatest number (for an example, see: Car2).
  12. 'Athletic' humans exceed the 'very fit' category and should always 'win'. Designing e-bikes that allow the elderly to blow past any athlete without pedaling is an inappropriate design goal. From the POV of the already very fit: "The whole point of the solar cycle is to use the engine to go faster than a normal bike," which is why they should not be the only ones designing them. The need for the fast to go faster is not obvious.
  13. Being fit is good; becoming e-superhuman may feel good, but isn't where we want the technology to go. Anyone who 'wins' by overpowering others, looses. Everyone who manages to have a good time while treading lightly on Mother Earth, wins.

So let the spirit of adventure, exploration, and innovation roll on.


Sun Tour Saguaro, AZ , March 2016:

Before attempting a multi-day Sun Tour, do short ones that begin and end on the same day. Do this where you are, but if you happen to be in Tucson, join SolTech for a 66 mile tour de Tucson with a loop through Saguaro National Park. This will be a prelude for Sun Tour Mt. Lemmon, so if doing that tour, come a bit early and tour Tucson.

Sun Tours aim for 50 miles per day average. While this one is longer, the elevation change is only about 1400 feet, so average slope is about 0.4% up and down, so tour is mostly flat. But there be mountains out there, so to average 50 miles/day means going further on the flats. Going up mountains will be slower going and decents must be controlled to be safe, so average speed in mountains will be less than on the flats. See a Google Map view of the route.

Report: Sun Tour Saguaro Sept. 12, 2015



Mt Lemmon 2014Sun Tour Mt. Lemmon, AZ , March 2016:

This annual Sun Tour is a short one, perfect for testing humans and technology. Starts in Tucson. Will be a 140 mile (230 km) tour of Mt. Lemmon which raises 6,600 feet (2,000 meters) above Tucson upon which Lance Armstrong once trained and up which the Mt. Lemmon Marathon is run. The trip begins with a ride (38 mi, 60 km total) across Tucson to Saguaro National Park for a tour of it, then to the base of Mt. Lemmon. Then the next 26 miles (42 km) is up hill all the way (a steady 4% grade) to the top and will take two days. A dirt road descends the backside of the mountain to the San Pedro River, then on to Tanque Verde Pools. The next day, it's back to the starting point, a mere six day outing.

Google Map views: Day 1 (41 miles), Day 2 (17 miles), Day 3 (11 miles), Day 4 (29 miles unpaved), Day 5 (24 miles unpaved), Day 6 (25 miles). A strong climbing e-cycle, perhaps with a very fit human onboard, could climb Mt. Lemmon in a day, but as touring is possible with less power than imaginable, and Sun Tours are not races, and Mt. Lemmon is lovely and campable with tempting side trips for the hyper active, we'll take two days up. While the fourth day is mostly downhill, it is following a rough dirt road, so speed will have to be kept down. The first and last days will be of moderate length so the average mileage is just 29 miles/day.


burning man 2014




Sun Tour Burning Man Lite, NV, August, 2016,

Starts at Pyramid Lake, NV. Stay at Burning Man 9 days at the Alternative Energy Zone village, return via a different route to the place of starting. About a 210 mile (340 km) round trip. A Sun Tour on the short side. Buning Man ticket required; can be hard to get, so get one ASAP.

Be there, or don't be weird.














Burning Man 2014Sun Tour Burning Man, NV, August 2016:

The trip could begin in Kingman, AZ and go mostly downhill to Lake Mead, and on to Las Vegas. Then on to Death Valley, across the Sierras via the Kern River, take a side trip to the Sequoias, then through Yosemite, past Lake Tahoe, before heading for Pyramid Lake, then Burning Man. From Kingman it would be about a 1K mile (1600 km) outing that will become a 2K mile (3200 km) round trip tour of the fabulous and sunny American West lasting through September. Details to be worked out, but tickets to Burning Man are required and ticket sales begin in January.

On the way back, tour Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon..... This Sun Tour, including 8 days at Burning Man, will take 7 to 8 weeks averaging 50 miles (80 km) a day while on the road. Very fit humans who tour by human powered bicycle consider 50 miles/day is a reasonable goal. Athletic humans can go 150 to 200 miles a day if pushing their limits, just as some people can run a marathon up Mt. Lemmon in 3-4 hours. That's 'some' as in very, very few. Sun Tours aim to be more inclusive.


Sun Tour Monarch, Angangueo, Mexico, November 2016.

The Monarch migration routes converge in southern Texas in mid October and proceed south through Mexico in November and so shall we. monarchThe butterflies are solar powered and so shall we be, and we'll travel about the same speed. The Reserva de la Biosfera Mariposa Monarca opens to the public about November 22, so about then or thereafter is the target arrival time. The leaving point in southern Texas is to be determined, departure time late October or early November. Many sites about the migration: Monarch Butterfly Migration;
Monarch Butterfly Program

We went from Del Rio, TX, November 2014, to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve by car to scout out routes for a Sun Tour. Most of the way is via Hwy 57 which has a wide paved shoulder and most, close to 99%, of the route would be bike friendly. Only the Saltillo bypass was marked No Bicycles, so plan on going through this medium sized town. We went up the Pacific side coming back and appart from a few sections, the route would be decidedly bike unfriendly, with heavy traffic and no shoulder being common. Coming back up the east coast side remains a possibility. The main four-lane highways with the 8 foot shoulders are good for going the distance, and sidetrips of interest on lightly traveled two-way paved roads which have no shoulder can be considered resonably safe and are common. Solar touring in much of Mexico looks as safe or safer than touring in the USA. A Monarch Sun Tour will help focus attention on the plight of our continent's butterfly, which can be thought of as North America's canary. Perhaps the tour should start in Canada and involve tossing milkweek seed bombs along the way. The one site we saw has seen a 500% decline in overwintering Monarchs. Contact: Sun Tour America


Sun Tour 2016, Tucson to Tucson, starting March 24, 2016

monarchThis would be the gran tour for 2016 that would include Sun Tour Monarch. This tour would not be for rabbits. If "getting there" is the thing, drive a car or fly and occasionally look out the window. Perhaps no one will be up to a 9,000 mile (15,000 km) tour. Perhaps somebody will be. If not doing something better in 2016, contact: Sun Tour America



About Sun Tour America



Solar eTrike Touring Options

The SolTech Solar eTrike

Lightfoot Cycles is a source of photovoltaic solar trikes. Not apparent on site, but ask.


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Mt. Lemmon May 2014
Mt. Lemmon,
May, 2016

Burning Man
Burning Man Lite,
August, 2016

monarch migration
Sun Tour Monarch

Monarchs to Mexico,
November, 2016

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak, CO,
June, 2016

Burning Man2
Burning Man,
August, 2016


Sun Tour America

Sol Tech



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Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.
—Mark Twain