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Pair to pedal electric bikes to Washington, D.C.

Brother-sister team depart today from their childhood home in Palo Alto

Calling themselves "not very young and not very fit," a brother-sister team will depart from their childhood home in Palo Alto Thursday, Earth Day, to pedal their electric bicycles to Washington, D.C.

Their itinerary will take them through a wind-power project in Arizona, a biochar initiative in Colorado, a sustainable farm in Kansas and other "green" projects they have chosen. The two plan to arrive in the capital on June 22 and are lobbying -- so far unsuccessfully -- for a lunch with the President.

"What we're doing is street theater -- trying to show people sustainable solutions," said Oliver Bock, a Palo Alto-bred Woodside resident and stay-at-home dad who has worked in the area of sustainable business practices through the organization New Voice of Business.

His sister, Catherine Bock -- recently returned to Palo Alto after living for 25 years in Sweden -- said the upcoming journey will be "my getting-to-know-America-after-not-living-here-25 years trip."

They're calling themselves The Green Riders, and intend to blog through their journey.

Riding recumbent electric bicycles, the pair will depart from the Hamilton Avenue home of their mother, Trude Bock, on the elder Bock's 89th birthday.

It was exactly a year ago, at a family celebration of Mrs. Bock's 88th birthday, that the siblings -- including brother Michael, who builds bicycles in Marin County -- conceived of the cross-country trip.

"Michael had been doing electric bicycles for about two years and was very excited about building them and using them, so we decided to ride them across the country," Oliver Bock said.

"We'll be able to show people sustainable solutions, from the electric bikes to the solar panels charging our batteries.

"It visually will show you that you're producing electricity off the sun that's going directly into your battery.

"When you see it, it's much more impactful than being told about it."

During their transcontinental journey, Catherine Bock will mark her 61st birthday and Oliver his 56th.

In addition to the environmental events, the Bocks want to do demonstrations at bicycle shops along the way.

"We're not trying to get bicyclists to move up to electric bikes -- we're trying to get people out of their cars onto electric bikes," Oliver Bock said, noting that many more Europeans and Chinese than Americans use electric bikes.

The Bocks will have a support vehicle driven by Sean Eagleton, a 21-year-old trained mechanic whom Oliver Bock met in a bike shop.

"We'll ride in the mornings, meet the vehicle, change batteries, lunch, nap and then ride in the afternoons," he said. "We have probably seven days where we don't ride because they're filled with events."

The support vehicle will hold an extra bike so friends can join to ride along the way. It also will serve as transportation home.

"We've got deadlines all the way across the country, and that's why we have electric motors and a support vehicle," Oliver Bock said.

"We get this argument, 'What you're doing isn't very green, you know.'

"We're doing it as a way to attract attention to sustainability. The fact that we're not green -- great, we'll talk about that."

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Like this comment
Posted by jack
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2010 at 11:24 am

Excellent, job, guys!

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

I would like to see lights and to see the pennant on Oliver's bike a bit higher and dayglo orange for increased visibility.
Betcha when Big Sister was walking her little brother across the street she never thought she'd be escorting him across the country. Do they have a blog to follow their progress?

Like this comment
Posted by Chris Kenrick, Palo Alto Weekly staff
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm


Here's the blog Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Neal
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Have a good time. Enjoy the journey.

Like this comment
Posted by Micki
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2010 at 2:08 pm

You're on your way! Wish I could be cycling with you, will be following you via your blog all the way from SE. Hope you get that lunch with President Obama - the more press coverage, the better! Good luck!

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