Welcome to 1×10, where we ask 1 inspiring human 10 questions about how they are using cycling as a force for good. Read on to meet David O’Neill, who is currently undertaking his Solar Journey – a journey to ride across the country, from Riverside, CA to Buffalo, NY, on an e-bike, pulling a trailer outfitted with solar panels. and space to haul his gear. Through his ride he’s also raising awareness for Trips For Kids, a nonprofit that provides bike outings, environmental education, bicycle mechanics training and earn-a-bike programs for youth in the United States and Canada, especially those most in need. You can read the 1×10 interview I did with Alan Ping, the Executive Director of Trips for Kids National. Lastly, through this ride, David is also raising awareness for Be The Match, the national bone marrow registry. Read more to learn about his favorite bike trend, how he’s using cycling as a force for good, and more in his 1×10 interview.
To track David’s trip follow him on Instagram or on his Youtube page where he’ll be posting short videos along his journey! GO DAVID GO!!!
1. How / why did you fall in love with cycling?
When I was young, the only way we could get around was by bicycle, because we couldn’t afford cars. I was raised in Riverside, CA, which had some of the worst air quality in the United States back in the 70’s. Riding a bike was a way not to contribute to smog. I fell in love with riding bikes before I was a teenager.
2. Favorite Bike (that you own or covet)?
For decades, my favorite bike was a Trek 9000 with Motorcross-Motorcycle Handlebars, a Cloud 9 seat, and rubber pedals. It was a one speed. I got around on that bike for 15-20 years before I upgraded it to a three speed. This was a whole new bike. A few years later I upgraded to a Giant Dirt-E Hardtail Mountain bike. This was by far the best bike I have ever been on. The old trek I no longer ride.
3. What’s the most memorable ride you’ve done, and what happened?
My most memorable ride was my ride from Los Gatos, CA to Riverside, CA in January of 2018. The ride was over 6 days and I covered 555 miles. From Port Hueneme, CA to Malibu, CA more specifically because I rode from midnight to 1:30am in perfect weather. I camped out on the beach and woke up to the eclipsed full moon and surfers in the water. All of that along with having absolutely no traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway is what made it my favorite ride of all time. It was cosmic.
“I camped out on the beach and woke up to the eclipsed full moon and surfers in the water.”
4. Who do you admire in the cycling world?
When I was a kid, there was an old guy who would ride an old beach cruiser daily across Riverside. His bike had a rack on the front and the back with lots of junk, signs, an American flag, and a big horn on the handlebars. He always seemed to be so happy; he inspired me.
5. Top tip for a new rider, or a cyclist about to take on a new challenge?
Find trails that avoid automobile traffic.
6. Favorite trend or innovation in cycling?
The commuter e-bike trend is where the future of bicycling is all about. I have owned an e-bike for the last 2 years, and being from the Los Angeles area, I can tell you that traffic is terrible. Not only is there still the fun factor on an e-bike, but you are able to get to your destination unfatigued and sometimes even faster than if you were driving. When people start to really catch on, they will ditch their cars to go to work and instead ride their e-bike! They still need to work on making them more comfortable though.
As for the innovation side, I have seen great advancements in the e-bike, transmissions, and hub technologies. Increased efficiency, rider comfort and feel, and just all around reliability have all been picking up over the years, but I am very excited to see what the future has to offer in those areas!
“Not only is there still the fun factor on an e-bike, but you are able to get to your destination unfatigued and sometimes even faster than if you were driving.”
7. What are you doing to use cycling as a force for good?
I have always been a bicycle promoter. I want people to see the benefit to getting on their bike and riding. Not only do you get to have fun and discover your surroundings, but you can meet new people and advance your health. I have also always been a promoter of solar and green energy, and for this reason on my journey across America, I am towing a custom aluminum trailer with two 100W solar panels. These panels charge my spare battery and keep me going all day! Renogy makes the flexible and lightweight panels I am using. Furthermore, I am partnering with Trips for Kids. They are a nationwide organization that are after getting children out and on their bikes. They want to bring back the bicycle culture of my childhood and help kids learn about working on bikes, but also how much fun and how practical it is. They envision what I value, and I think everyone can play their part in promoting cycling. Last, but not least, as part of my trip, I am partnering with Be The Match. This is the national bone marrow registry that helps build a network of registered donors for people with blood cancers to be able to match with and have their lives potentially saved.
Whether you use bicycling to promote your own values or someone else’s that you believe in, what matters is that you are out there and active promoting causes that are for the betterment of the future planet and youth.
“I have also always been a promoter of solar and green energy, and for this reason on my journey across America, I am towing a custom aluminum trailer with two 100W solar panels.”
8. Thinking about the work you’re doing, what do you see as the potential change for people or the planet? If you are successful, what impact will you have?
If I’m successful, the bike culture and transportation culture will resemble more what we see in Europe. The bicycle infrastructure is much stronger. If we build it, they will ride.
9. What’s your biggest challenge/obstacle to success?
Car culture. It’s so easy to drive a car, yet no one comes home from a commute saying: “Oh I loved that drive”.
“…no one comes home from a commute saying: “Oh I loved that drive”.
10. How can people help? Where can they learn more about your work?
Lead by Example, Ride your Bicycle! When people see how much fun I am having while I ride my bike they want to ride it too.
To track David’s trip follow him on Instagram or on his Youtube page where he’ll be posting short videos along his journey!
David O’Neill is currently on a Solar Journey, riding his e-bike across the country from Riverside, CA to Buffalo, NY, pulling a trailer rigged with solar panels to charge his battery! He’s also riding to raise awareness for Trips for Kids and Be the Match. So rad!!!
Edited by John Kim. When he’s not out for a ride, John uses his expertise in Corporate Social Responsibility to help companies do well by doing good. Find him at email@example.com or VirtCyc on twitter or instagram.
5 Comments Add yours
David- where are you now?
David- where are you now?
He’s nearly to the border of CO and NEB; check his Instagram to see the actual progress
GO DAVED GO
Just met David on his return on the Southwest Chief to LA and they got off at Riverside. Had dinner with them last night and a delightful and engaging conversation. Keep riding David!