While Americans were busy celebrating the Fourth, one group was doing the electric slide across the country.
Ride the Future, founded by Susan Jones, started their 3,745-mile trek Thursday morning using only electric vehicles — cars, motorcycles, scooters and bicycles — from Charleston to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
The tour will make 44 stops along the way, stopping to refuel each day and connect with local people about a greener type of commute.
“I’m gonna fret for 44 days until they get back,” Debbie Anderson Blevins, Jones’ oldest sister, said about the journey.
Blevins assisted the group with coordinating part of their travel across the United States. Starting Thursday in the Holy City, Jones and company look to take their cross-country caravan to its goal by Aug. 16.
Jones said she chose Charleston for its scenery and its East Coast locale. Based on the limited ranges of the electric vehicles and availability of charging stations, the route took a few recalculations to get to its final map.
“You are pretty pigeonholed in where you can stop,” Jones said.
Formerly a psychologist and acupuncturist, Jones said she had an epiphany three years ago that her mission in life was to help the state of the Earth, not just one patient at a time. Her goal was to reduce emissions and air pollution by demonstrating the electric option.
“I left my practice and I moved in this direction every day since,” she said.
By the time the hotdogs and hamburgers have all been put away on July 4, Ride the Future will be in Columbia, eyeing to make it to Atlanta on Sunday.
The group is riding 14 vehicles deep, including one Nissan Leaf, one Zero motorcycle, four Xenon scooters and eight A2B bicycles. The goal is to set Guinness records for the longest distance traveled on each respective electric vehicle.
An electric bicycle uses a battery connected to the throttle in the handlebars to transfer energy through the tires, making it easier on the rider.
The Australian rider Rachel McCarthy met Jones in a Bangkok cafe while working for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Thailand.
“This is really my first time in the U.S.,” McCarthy said. “It’s a very unusual way to see the country,”
Another first on her list is actually riding the scooter she will be taking across the country. McCarthy had some time Wednesday night to get a feel for it, but she said it’s still a new sensation.
“It’s still a bit terrifying,” she said. “Even riding today, I felt a bit nervous.”
McCarthy said the greatest part of the journey for her is teaching kids about renewable energy and ways to take care of the planet.
“In each town, we’re going to create a mural with the handprints of the children that have made a pledge to the Earth,” McCarthy said.
Ben Hopkins, another Bangkok resident, was invited to try and break the record six weeks ago.
Hopkins’ passion for most of his life has been cycling led him to the opportunity to break the record on the A2B electric bike, as well as the ability to see America for the first time.
The tour has also attracted electric car enthusiasts like Richard Williams of Charleston. Williams, who has had an electric car for the past couple of years, said the drivability of an electric car far surpasses that of its gas-engined competitors.
“There’s no revving. There’s no roaring. It’s just silent power,” he said.
A list of tour stops and dates are available on the group’s website.
Reach Nick Watson at 937-4810.
The A2B electric bicycles, using a battery to help move the wheels along, is unloaded from a UHaul for the Ride the Future tour launch 9 a.m. Thursday at Brittlebank Park. (Nicholas Watson/postandcourier.com)×
Susan Jones, founder of Xenon Motor Co., fixes her pink helmet while setting up the Ride the Future tour launch behind Ben Rich on the Zero motorcycle and in front of Dominique Arciero in the blue helmet on the Xenon scooter. (Nick Watson/postandcourier.com)×
The Zero motorcycle and the Xenon scooter are just two of the electric vehicles used during the Ride the Future tour that launched 9 a.m. Thursday at Brittlebank Park. (Nick Watson/postandcourier.com)×