Chapter 2 – The Resumption
After a six-month hiatus lasting through the worst of winter, opportunity materialized out of thin air. I had pondered how to go about getting to these other BIG western states (California, Nevada, Arizona) when I received a call from Paradise, California from a customer who wanted my Sol-Reliant solar water heating system. He asked if I could deliver the system. I enthusiastically answered yes! The cogs of the wheels were turning. What if I took my bike along when I delivered the Sol-Reliant? What if after dropping off the system I resumed the ride? What if I did a ride around Lake Tahoe? That way I could pass through California and Nevada in one Sun-ride.
But then how would I carry my bike on an already fully loaded pick-up truck? Sunride with its solar canopy stands 7’ tall, 6’ long and 2’ wide. That’s 84 cubic feet that I simply did not have in the bed of the truck. I designed a custom bike rack that I could attach to my trailer hitch. It would need to come out of the hitch, drop down to about a foot off the ground, come out away from the truck about a foot, where we’d weld a steel U-channel the length and width of the wheel base. It seemed like a lot of falderal, and my ace welder, Tom Laney, didn’t have time to make it for me.
Then I thought, wait a minute, do I really need the solar canopy for this ride? The solar canopy allows me to recharge during the day, extending my range. If it’s only 72 miles around the Lake what if I took “Sunride, Jr.” (“SR2” for short), my other electric bicycle without the solar canopy; the bike I’d used for the nearly naked bike ride the summer before? It would take up half the space and I could haul it in the bed, under the big 4’ x 10’ solar collector resting just above on the pipe rack. I could carry three pre-charged batteries (pre-charged with solar energy, of course) that should get me around the Lake. So, I rigged up a bike rack like the one my friend Mike in Boise had on his truck. The easily removed front tire would leave the tire forks to be bolted into the bracket on the front wall of the truck bed. With no time to order online, I fabricated one in my shop. My homemade bike rack worked great. The new plan was good. I was ready to go.