Pedal Power

By Stuart Thornton, National Geographic Roving Reporter

AshEl SeaSunZ stalks the main stage at BioBlitz’s Biodiversity Festival rapping about alternative energy—while seven kids and adults furiously pedal stationary bicycles nearby. It turns out the cyclists in the tent are an important component of SeaSunZ’s show: their pedaling provides energy for the stage’s audio system.

Four year-old Ian Plymale generates some energy at BioBlitz. Photograph by Stuart Thornton, National Geographic

Four year-old Ian Plymale generates some energy at BioBlitz.
Photograph by Stuart Thornton, National Geographic

When the power starts to get low, a red light turns on and then a man holds up a sign that simply says, “Pedal.”

“If everyone stops [pedaling] at the same time, the concert would stop in about two minutes,” says Paul Freedman of Rock the Bike who provided the unique electricity generation equipment.

Rock the Bike’s Paul Freedman powers those pedals. Photograph by Stuart Thornton, National Geographic

Rock the Bike’s Paul Freedman powers those pedals.
Photograph by Stuart Thornton, National Geographic

The Oakland-based company has generated power for music festivals and blenders. Freedman says all of the bikes are fitted with a generator that then sends the power to the stage’s audio system.

Covered in sweat from his own turns pedaling, Freedman says BioBlitz has been an ideal event for his sound system due in part to all of the nice children who are helping to keep the power going by pedaling.

“I also like the emphasis on education.”

One response to “Pedal Power

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