Hello out there! First off, I’d just like to thank everybody who stopped by my last post to talk about DIY shelter ideas, swamp coolers, Mylar and other ways to stay
alive comfortable at Burning Man. If you haven’t checked that post, go read it now! You’ll learn more from the comment section than you will from my post, no doubt.
Hi folks! I’m sure everyone out there is busy getting gear together. Between fabricating the scorpion shell for your new art car, obtaining replacement links for your geodesic dome and trying to learn to walk in stilts, you’ve probably been too busy to think about your bike. Your two-wheeled steed isn’t something to leave for last, though, so I thought I’d better bring it up.
Black Rock City is a city of bikes. You need a bike to get you to the hidden art in deep playa, or the dance party at 3:15&D, or back home before the windstorm hits. I consulted the Department of Public Works and the Green Bike Project staff, and we all came up with some suggestions to make your cycling experience muy fantastico.
Bicycle Protocol – HEY READ THIS
(thanks in advance from the DPW)
1. If you bring a bike, take it with you after the event! Every year, hundreds of bicycles are left behind. Leave No Trace means Leave No Bike.
2. Bring a lock, and use it. Sadly, bikes do tend to wander away when left unlocked.
3. Bikes also tend to disappear when you lock them to someone else’s property, so avoid attaching your bike to a trailer, another bike, an art car, a golf cart, etc.
4. At the end of the event, secure your bike firmly to your vehicle. Double and triple check it. Lost bikes on the road are incredibly dangerous and, let’s be honest, inconsiderate.
5. Hey! Read the Survival Guide for more hot tips!
How To Choose A Playa Bike
1. It should be something you can get dirty. Or lost. Or totally trashed. I highly recommend a used, junky mountain bike. You can find ‘em at thrift stores, pawn shops and bike kitchens, and they should cost well under $50.
If you act now, you can reserve a bike from the Reno Kiwanis or from Black Rock Bicycles. These bikes are playa-ready and totally affordable, and you have the option to return them when you’re done! What an amazing idea!
2. Single speed is best: The sprockets, derailleurs & chain are liable to get all mucked up with the first wind.
3. Get yourself some off-road tires, as wide as possible, to float you through any dunes.
4. Your tush demands a comfy seat! If your bike doesn’t have one, install one or wrap the whole thing in squishy foam. Your ischium will thank you after just one day of riding over bumpy roads.
5. Light thyself. You’ll figure that out the first time you try to cross Esplanade at night, or you can just be proactive and light your bike before you go out. Just please-please-please-please no glow sticks OK? There are so many other options.
Bike Maintenance and Repairs
1. Before the event, check your bike. Make sure the tires are full and don’t leak, the bike fits you properly and is comfortable, the brakes work, etc.
2. DO NOT, however, grease up your chain with WD-40. Your bike will be non-functional within minutes of hitting the playa.
3. Bring at least two extra tubes with you, and a repair kit, and a bike pump. If you’re going to deep playa, pack your bike kit along.
4. Your “friendly” bike repair technicians at the Center Camp bike shop tend to become a little less friendly as the week wears on. If you need a repair, try first to take care of it yourself. If you can’t fix the problem, be prepared to ask nicely and make the bike crew feel special. They will appreciate it. (I’m warning you though, they probably won’t be big on glitter hugs)
Throughout the city, you’ll see green cruiser bikes with “YELLOW BIKE” painted on them. Those are community bikes, and they’re meant to be shared. Wanna get the most out of the yellow green bike program? Here’s how:
1. Don’t keep a green bike. It’s rude, it’s selfish, it’s mean and it’s bad bad bad. Plus, it’ll get you yelled at by somebody who might otherwise have been very nice to you. Once you schlup your butt off the bike seat, it’s public property and you should leave it out in the open for anyone to take.
2. If it’s broken, get it fixed. This means returning it to Center Camp, where there’s a bike shop that’s equipped for repairs. If you’re far away from Center Camp, make it an adventure. Flag down a passing art car and ask ‘em if they can give you a lift, or just walk it back and stop at every bar en route. Way to take one for the team, bro.
3. If you *ahem* *cough* ride NAKED or SANS CULOTTES, please have the consideration to *ahem* wipe the seat after you use it. Thank you.
4. Don’t keep a green bike. When the event is over, if you are seen trying to take a green bike out of the city, you will be followed and detained and annoyed and harassed until you are full of shame and remorse. And yes, we are looking for freshly-painted cruisers too. After assembling thousands of those babies by hand, the bike crew can spot one at a distance no matter the color.
What works for you?
What other bike-related advice can you give? What style of bike works best for you, and how do you keep it safe and functional throughout the event? Have you ever had a bike stolen? Ever had a magnanimous stranger fix your flat?
Let’s hear your stories.