Travel diary : Orgeval-Macon

Hi everyone,

Let’s start by wishing you all a very happy new year 2018, full of sun, energy and new projects ! A big thanks to all of you who encourage and support us throughout this project, you carry us and it’s really heartwarming in those days of cold winter. 🙂

A class following our itinerary in Orgeval.

Since our last article, we took a break in Orgeval to visit different classes and then took the road again towards Chartres with new equipments to be able to face the well installed winter.

Animations with classes from the Pasteur school in Orgeval.

The sunset arriving as soon as 17-18h brings a new dimension to our encounters with people. The colder weather seems to absorb part of the ambient human warmth, not mentionning the number of people thinking we’re mad which is not exactly decreasing. ^^ And as soon as the sun goes down sooner than the average hour when people get out of work, it reduces and selects the kind of people we are most likely to meet ! Those are consequences we need to consider and adapt to by planning our itinerary and stop points in advance much more than before, the risk being to have to sleep under the tent in less favorable conditions than in summer… which can be done though. With a solar vehicle that’s a whole lot of small details like this which make a difference ! We need more time to recharge our batteries and try to compensate by using more our now well trained muscles.

A piece of the Loire à vélo with great company 🙂

We try to benefit as much as possible from the good days to progress a lot at once (80-110 km) because the days of bad weather become really non-viable in terms of energy production (20 km only on our shortest day) and we prefer to stop more often. It changes our relation to others : our encounters are less frequent but deeper and more unusual ! A special thought for Marlène and Julien who welcomed us for more than a week while waiting for the weather to get better and where we discovered a little safe haven under construction, almost another dimension considering how much time is passing by at a different pace there.

From left to right : a tile oven, a beautiful handmade christmas garden, the “House of Beauce” and a nice colored decoration.

We still try to take the time to progress randomly from time to time though, and we discovered some really nice places on the way, places we wouldn’t have suspected otherwise… We realize how many things we could miss if we weren’t looking around us without expecting too much : an associative place dedicated to culture and education, a beautiful garden decorated by a passionnate guy who makes all the decorations himself for everyone to visit for free, etc. In the countryside much more than in town, our relation to time dictates and organizes people’s daily life, in very different extents of course. Self-building, autonomous education for the children, disconnection from the mails and social networks, … as many engaged decisions often lead by a will to gain back a better control on our life rhythm and to adapt it to what better suits us.

Small break to tighten the bottom bracket… just next to a lama 😀

The word of mouth once again brought its lot of surprises these past weeks, from the little anecdote to the complete change of program ! That’s how we met a young boy we never had seen before in Nevers, who told us his teacher had showed them in class a picture of our tandem. We discovered a few hours later that the teacher was actually our host of the night and even if we couldn’t go see her class, we did go to her son’s school. 🙂

Photo and makeup session at France 3 just before the show.

That’s also how we were contacted by a regional TV program from France 3 Val de Loire in Orleans where we went as a consequence. It was our first TV show and quite a different experience from what we had done until then. Everything is timed, each rubric having a specific duration allowed that must certainly not be exceeded ! Espacially for a live broadcast, or you’ll have to cut other parts of the show. As you must think, it was quite frustrating to have to answer so fast and to lack the time to deepen all we wanted in order to correctly explain the different aspects of our project. But well, that’s the game and it’s still an interesting and necessary exercise in it’s need for conciseness.

Repairing a little while waiting for the weather to get better : 2 weldings we hadn’t taken the time to reinforce enough finally broke, which was weakening the solar roof’s structure.

That’s how this first exploratory phase of 2500 km in France brought us to Mâcon at the end of December, just in time for the celebrations of the end of the year ! And after those few months, what are the results ?

Globally they’re mostly positive : the satisfaction to have fulfilled our goals in terms of energy autonomy and worthship of the prototype, despite the constraints. Generating more energy than we consume means also a few sacrifices from time to time. But we managed quite well to transform those constraints into opportunities by taking the time to meet people.

Animations in classes of the primary school of Paray-le-Monial

Satisfaction also regarding all the encounters and animations made, which already have changed a lot since we left. Still, the potential to progress and get better is high as our approach is far from easy. If our transport mean fulfills its purpose by drawing attention and discussions on us, it remains difficult to push the discussions as far as we would like to. The themes we’re interested in through this project are complex and the underlying issues even more. Adapting to the sensitivity of each person and to how far their thinking have gone can prove complicated, espacially when they’re not really concerned about the subject. But our project, through the variety of its aspects, always offers a door by where starting the conversation which then leads to others. 🙂

We keep on trying to find the ways to get people involved as much as possible into our approach, to touch an ever larger and not necessarly convinced public and to improve the global impact of our project to make the discussions move forward on those issues that impact all of us !

And if you want to have a quick recap of what the year 2017 was for our project, take a look at this retrospective video below made with the help of our partner Faltazi Prod whom we warmly thank! Enjoy. 🙂

In order to better preserve our involvment in our interventions and the image right of the pupils, we have few photos and videos of our animations. We hope this will still offer you a good overview of the activities we make!


See you soon !


SolaR’hythm Team