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May 21, 2022

Couple on sun-powered journey stop in Watsonville

WATSONVILLE—With hundreds of miles behind them and thousands still ahead, bicyclists Claire and Will Stedden of Fort Bragg have been relying on a huge and free energy source to help fuel their journey—the sun.

After grabbing lunch at Taqueria La Fuente in Watsonville Tuesday, they relaxed on a sunny bench on Union Street. Beside them, their electrical-assisted bicycles soaked up the sun through a pair of portable solar panels that were charging up their batteries.

“They’re so easy to use and only weigh about four pounds each,” Claire said. “A lot of people ask about them. The electric-assist motors make going up a huge hill so much easier.”

Their ride is based on a new direction in travel called regenerative travel. It stems from a philosophy of moving past “consuming” the places you visit, like burning up fossil fuels and supporting that industry. The Steddens are part of the Trail Cooperative, a travel community whose mission is to to become socially and environmentally conscious travelers.

The married couple said they average 50 to 70 miles per day. Will is a health care technician and Claire is a medical writer. They said they felt it was overdue to “take a break” and hit the road.

They departed June 12 and pedaled north to Washington, through the San Juan Islands, back south through Eugene and along the Oregon coast.

“Mount Rainier National Park and the Olympic Peninsula were definitely highlights so far,” Will said.

Next, they’ll roll through Big Sur toward southern California and eventually steer east toward Tucson and Minnesota.

“People have been really nice along the way,” Claire said. “Not having a set schedule leaves the doors open for suggestions people give us—like a great place to eat or a cool route to take.” 

They said that while they’re riding, they keep the solar panels tied atop their panniers, facing the sky, to keep charging during the ride. Most nights are spent in their tents at state parks.

“Being on a bike and staying nights at these parks, meeting all kinds of people and sharing our stories has been fantastic,” Claire said. “The trip is really all about the people.”


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