Community Bike Project

This morning at the DPW meeting we got a beer cozy. In case you don’t already know, I’ll tell you: DPW swag is cool.

The morning meetings usually last about half an hour, and it’s a chance for everyone to get on the same page with the way things are progressing. Miss Handler emphasized DPW policies for fleet vehicles. Check the fluids; don’t lose the keys; don’t wreck the cars. Dave X talked about fuel needs. Logan went over the daily crew list. Spider announced that the gate is officially up and running. No more 6 mph or unlimited in and out privileges. Game Show delighted in presenting found radios to people who had lost them the night before. (Losing a radio is a cardinal sin here. Don’t do it, lest you be temporarily but severely humiliated.)

I headed out to the ranch this morning to work on the Community Bike Project. A thousand new bikes were donated to Burning Man this year so that the Community Bike Project could be expanded for the Green Man theme. Travis and Dustin from the Black Label Bike Club in Reno are heading up a team of volunteers who are unloading, unpacking, dismantling, painting, and assembling 1,000 boxed bikes. It’s a huge job, and they’ve been working day and night to get as many done as possible before the event starts.

There were nine of us working on bikes today, one team unpacking bikes and removing parts, and one team re-assembling them at the other end, with Dustin in the middle, painting the frames. At the front end of the operation, we had to remove the rear wheel, seat post quick release, and fenders. Then take off all the stickers and put tape over the chain and stem. The bike club built a temporary shade structure and workshop behind the sign shop at Black Rock Station, including an excellent assembly line for the bikes, so we were able to work pretty comfortably considering how hot and windy it’s been. Also, we had lunch delivered from the commissary, and we got to see Dustin’s now famous wind-up, which is worth the price of admission in and of itself.

After the bikes were hung up, dismantled, and painted green, the second team attached the handle bars, seats, wheels, and petals. The whole process is a considerable amount of work for each bike, especially considering that the tires have to be inflated, the handle bars and seats have to go on straight, and everything has to be tight. I think we got about 50 or 60 bikes done today, but there are 750 to go. It’s a significant undertaking, but the results are going to be well worth it.

You’ll see matching green bikes all over the playa this year. They say “YELLOW BIKE,” after the project that was started last year. You can use them anytime you want. Just remember, they are meant to be one-way transportation. Don’t expect to come out and find the same bike waiting for you when you’re done dancing/chatting/looking around. Don’t decorate them and don’t take them back to your camp to use the next day. There will be designated stations for the bikes too, so keep your eyes peeled. As far as we know, this is the largest community bike project in the world, so everyone out here is pretty excited about it. If you use one of the bikes, have fun, and maybe give the tires some air if they seem flat or tighten a bolt of something feels lose. Props to the bike club and all the volunteers.

I headed out to the Man base tonight with Tomas to see how things were going. There was a team of people loading him up with burlap bags, neon tubing, and other accoutrements (the Man, not Tomas). He was headless (again, the Man). We ran into a few of the kids from Crane Camp on a couple of their caddies and decided to hang out and chat for a while. We heard a radio call from Nipps and Panties No Panties about seven sexy bitches looking for a party, so Chaos told them the party was at the Man base, which of course wasn’t true in the strictest sense since there were only about six of us and we were sitting around on couches. But they rolled up in the Fluffer van anyway, and stopped to say hi, where the hell was the party. Someone from gate called, and they were off in a puff of playa dust. For the next hour or so, people continued to show up, and we had a really nice impromptu party at the Man base. Another amazing night in Black Rock City.

– Wanda Sue Power

About the author: Marnee Benson

Marnee joined Black Rock Solar in 2009 as an environmental journalist and project manager who had recently organized a worldwide sailing expedition and global warming lecture series. While growing up in New Mexico, Marnee played tennis in the high-desert sun, ripped it up at local ski resorts, and rode bikes with her friends. She’s lived in Reno for more than ten years, after stops in Jackson Hole and southern California– where she played beach volleyball and studied math at San Diego State University. Marnee traded in her tennis racket and bikinis for carabiners and climbing shoes when she hit the Sierra Nevada, and she recently graduated from UNR with two master’s degrees in Environmental Science and Environmental Policy. She organized the Tour de Nez bike race for three years and sailed with Greenpeace International before turning her attention full-time to Black Rock Solar. In her spare time, Marnee counts her lucky stars for being able to work with the Holland Project and March Fourth Marching Band.

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