Ride The Future To KICK GAS – Lessons Learned


The Ride the Future Team Prior to Departure

The Ride the Future Team Prior to Departure

Making Some Minor Adjustments

Making Some Minor Adjustments

In 2013, I quit my job to explore America on a scooter. Thus began an unexpected interest in electric vehicles, a deep love of the American landscape and an undying passion for people.

“ Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”– Mark Twain

This was the guiding wisdom I ‘packed’ with me as I set off on my scooter as part of the Ride the Future Tour. And what I was about to do did indeed involve ‘sailing away’ from my own safe harbour. After hearing about the opportunity (through a chance encounter at a cafe in Bangkok) and after some contemplation, I resigned from my UN job in Thailand and booked a one-way flight to America. Professionally, it was a questionable decision. But I knew instinctively that this was a journey I needed to take.

So on the 4th July 2013, there I was in Charleston, South Carolina, about to embark on a 7000km road trip. But this journey was a little different than most road trips across America; we had a team of nine as well as a documentary film crew. We powered our vehicles with lithium-ion batteries. No gas. And we were also aiming for four Guinness World Records for the longest distance ever travelled by electric car, electric motorbike, electric scooter and electric bicycle.

My vehicle of choice was the electric scooter, which at full throttle could reach about 50km/hour and yes, we were heading for the great big interstates of America. I’d never ridden a scooter before, at least not until my parking lot test run the night before departing. I also knew very little about electric vehicles. I didn’t know how were they charged, where we’d find spare batteries and what would happen if we ran out of power on a dark, lonely road…

And it wasn’t until the eve of our big journey that I even met those I was about to spend an intensive 44 days with all the way to California — one Brit, five Americans, all recruits to the cause and all from very different backgrounds. Who were these people? Would we get along? I had no idea what lay ahead and in all truth, no idea whether this journey was even possible.

But underlying our Guinness World Record attempt there was a much greater purpose; the Ride the Future Tour involved stopping in 44 cities along the way to really soak in the vast American country, to learn about life in America from locals at planned town events, to take on something completely new as part of a team and to share in celebrating the advent of a new and much more sustainable means of transportation.

The Ride The Future Tour

The Ride The Future Tour

The film, “Kick Gas”, documents our journey through the 44 cities with a focus on the incredible diversity of the American landscape, from underground caves in McMinnville, Tennessee, to the cascading hills around Santa Fe, New Mexico. We took Route 66 all the way from Oklahoma, rode past the big oil rigs of Texas and explored the overwhelmingly beautiful Grand Canyon. We paraded our vehicles along the dazzling Las Vegas strip and we watched the sunset along the great Californian coast of Big Sur. All the while, we moved forward on our electric vehicles, edging closer to our finish line.

ride the future rachel

Nobody Believed The Trip Would Be Easy and Trouble Free

While the vehicles fascinated those we met (and we’ve answered hundreds of questions about charging, electric vehicle infrastructure, cost and efficiency), what was most encouraging for me was the reaction to the challenging journey itself. We felt like celebrities in small towns like Oden (with a population of 232). We gained riders as we went and at one point, we received a police escort into McMinnville, Tennessee, by Mayor Jimmy Daley. We made prime time news in Nashville which led to a long train of toots and cheers as we pulled out of the city the next morning. And we were welcomed with champagne and much celebration at our final destination, Google Headquarters, Mountain View, California. There were likely many who saw us passing and were left scratching their heads at the sight of our string of electric vehicles. But as strange as we appeared, all those we met were nothing but encouraging of our journey.

At The Finish Line

At The Finish Line

As people, we do well at supporting others willing to push the bounds of perceived limitations, especially in the face of challenges. We are, ultimately, creatures with the innate will to survive and to thrive and hence so awed and so inspired by the audacious human spirit. By pushing ourselves physically to achieve what no other had before (even if we were ill-equipped, ill-prepared and unsure of our ability to make the full distance..), we’ve helped to educate in a fun and powerful way about a transition that needs to happen in the face of enormous challenges to our natural environment. I hope the journey also encourages others to push the bounds of their ‘limitations’ and in the eloquent words of Mark Twain, sail away from the safe harbour.

I’m sure the experience of this journey will inform decisions I choose to take in my own life. I know for certain the people I’ve met along the way have already enriched it.

The KICK GAS™ Movie, will be released on Earth Day April 22, 2014 on AMAZON and www.kickgas.vhx.tv.

Editor’s Note: The KICK GAS™ movie crew and cast has teamed with InsideEVs to present a series of exclusive engaging posts in the lead up to the release of the full-blown movie Earth Day April 22, 2014.  Click here to view our previous KICK GAS post.

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15 Comments on "Ride The Future To KICK GAS – Lessons Learned"

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It would be really cool if they had an i-MiEV that sat behind the riders at their pace. At 22 mph many on forums have found that it would only consume 2 amps which would give it a range of over 500 miles (similar to the record we’ve seen done in Japan last year).

wow what a great story.

The charging details would be interesting.

Were you guys allowed to bring along a generator? JMO but that would be cheating.

George, we did have a gas generator for the LEAF and motorcycle in the supply truck just for an emergency, but the goal was always to never use it. This goal was also met. We had some very close calls where we arrived with no measurable power showing, but we never actually ran out. Good planning and a little luck go a long way—especially up mountains! And one last note, a shout out thank you to Steve in Cambria, Ca who let us use his LEAF charging station. He fixed our one weak link to be able to conquer Route 1 to Big Sur where there was no 220V power!

Thx for the response.
I love what you guys did.

Shouldn’t it be called Kick Gasoline?

Using the grid would certainly have meant they used gas for their journey, along with coal and nuclear.

You must not get out much. The name appears to be a parody of a huge box office hit– “Kick A$$”…

Btw, did you know that if you use gasoline in a car– you’ve also used the grid to manufacture, advertise, store and pump that gasoline? 😛

@ CherylG
Yes it can be true sometimes….but the ultimate goal is to be charging with PV,
That is where the biggest pay off is…..
and you can’t do that with anything but an EV.

sorry on the photo.
Wrong HTML code:

Indeed, and it’s even worse than that: the whole well-to-tank chain is about 80% efficient.
http://greet.es.anl.gov/publication-wft2tv3v page 59.

By the time one liter (or one gallon) of gasoline gets in someone’s tank, about 7 MJ (26 MJ resp) have been wasted already — enough to propel an EV such as the Leaf some 10km (or 25 miles, resp; EPA ratings).

The US average ICEV (~25 MPG) requires as much energy just to FILL UP as a PEV takes to RUN.

Oh, and as GeorgeS pointed out, those plug-ins can be fed much cleaner energy, like photovoltaics.
In fact, about half their drivers in California do or will do exactly that: http://energycenter.org/clean-vehicle-rebate-project/vehicle-owner-survey/feb-2014-survey

In the US liquid petrol is usually called “gas” or “gasoline” and gaseous methane (and other hydrocarbons) is usually called “natural gas” to avoid confusion.

My understanding of the ride is that the intent was to demonstrate potential.. and that potential does not require hydrocarbons.

I am excited to see the movie tomorrow after following this on various social media sites. My wife and I really love our Nissan Leaf and we have a dozen neighbors, friends and colleagues all contemplating an EV after driving ours. Glad to see it’s finally catching on. I think exposure like this is exactly what this newer technology needs.

You know, if CherylIG hangs around InsideEVs knocking everything electric long enough – perhaps she’ll become one of the converted.

Especially since every time she comes up with a snarky critique of something great like this amazing journey – there are always, nice, patient, educated individuals on hand here to educate her on the errors of her stance.

So I’ll be polite, civil and patient with CherylIG and all others who believe their superior intellect has brought them to a place wherein they believe we EV advocates are misguided and fanatical treehuggers without a clue.

I’m always curious when I read about these quirky and somewhat Quixotic long distance journeys with short range EVs. Does the public awareness they generate create new EV drivers, or just reinforce the stereotypes of the limitations of EVs, and the fanaticism of their adherents?

I guess someone commuting back and forth to work in safety and comfort for the cost equivalent of $1 per gallon gas and entirely without incident just wouldn’t make a good movie.

But that’s what EVs are really all about.

Very good point, but pushing the envelope on things is something very natural to do. And just like racing, it helps us push the technology to develop it further and strengthen its limitations.

Hopefully soon we will read about cross country trips in 5 days or less using DC fast charging networks and so on, eliminating the range anxiety concerns of the naysayers. But yes you are right, for daily use they already are perfect.