By Eleanor Deckert
From Thunder Bay, Ontario, to ‘Mile Zero’ in Victoria, B.C., Rick Small has been on the road for over a year with no firm schedule or specific destination and, most importantly, with no stops for gas.
Riding a solar-powered tricycle, Small is having an adventure and promoting the idea and potentials of switching to solar power.
He calls his rig “Light Dragon” and points the scales (solar panels) into the sun to gather electricity in the four 12-volt batteries in series that store 20 amp-hours to run the 48-volt system.
Small can cook, heat, light and power his tricycle with the six solar panels on top of the modified cargo and trailer unit.
He recharges while he rides, when he brakes, when he stops to pick up litter, while admiring the view, sipping a coffee, or talking to interested locals. Rick’s focus is to continually prompt others to take a real interest in this abundant alternative energy source.
So, what does a guy think about while travelling at 10-15 km/hr along the open road?
Rick thinks a lot about the heavy weight of debt and considers the real cost of traditional cars: the interest, insurance, fuel, service, repairs, tires.
He pedals along with plenty of time to juggle numbers: the weight of his rig, speed he is travelling, slant of the sun, grade of the hills. He keeps aware of the ratio between his energy collection and energy consumption.
He is also dreaming of the possibilities for similar rigs.
“I like to imagine groups of people travelling by solar-cycle. They could share electricity, explore off-road, camp in amazing places. I am considering Alaska, the Pacific Rim and Australia!”
It’s easy to see his enthusiasm by his grin and gestures.
“What if this caught on in underdeveloped countries?” He clearly has a vision. “Food production, hauling loads, trade, educational opportunities would be within reach if the people used solar energy and were not reliant on money-hungry fossil fuels.”
Recommended web sites; dragonebikes.com and goelectric.net share information on several models and how they could be used as transportation, lawn equipment, hauling, recreation, outdoor sport, exploring.
Or go to YouTube, where Rick Small calls himself “Light Rider.”