JRS VOLUME #13; ISSUE #29
Burning Man Update: The Jack Rabbit Speaks
Volume 13, Issue #29: BIKES
August 7, 2009
BIKES: THE ESSENTIAL PLAYA ACCESSORY
+ LIGHT YOUR BIKE, OR DIE
+ WHAT KIND OF BIKE SHOULD YOU BRING?
+ WHERE CAN I GET A BIKE?
+ COMMUNITY BIKES
+ DON'T WANT YOUR BIKE TO GET STOLEN? OK THEN ...
+ GOT A BIG THEME CAMP? PROVIDE BIKE RACKS!
+ DISPOSING OF YOUR BIKE AT THE END OF THE EVENT
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This just in! The Golden Spike is in the playa! This is the spot on which the Man sits, and is the point from which the rest of Black Rock City is surveyed. Point is? Game on!
OK, pop quiz. What's the absolute most important thing you can possibly have on playa? Water. OK, the second-most important? That one really cute outfit that matches your hair extensions. OK OK, fair enough. The *third*-most important thing? That's right, a bike.
Yep ... a reliable bicycle is by far your best friend for getting around, toodling about, visiting friends, seeing art, and exploring the vast expanses of the playa. Black Rock City truly is a bike city.
It's so important, that we dedicate an entire issue of the JRS to the topic. What kind of bike to bring, where to get a bike, how to take care of it on playa, and what to do with it after the event? It's all here. Because we love you, and we want you to be happy. This is us, momming you.
Go nuts. Oh, and the Man burns in less than 30 days, so yadda yadda yadda, panic now.
LIGHT YOUR BIKE, OR DIE
OK, we're being melodramatic ... or aaare we? Seriously, it's super freakin' dangerous to ride around on an unlit bike at night. Dangerous for you, and for those around you. And we're not talking about weak-kneed pansy lights either ... get good ones that you can see from afar. A headlight and a taillight are key, too.
There's a lot of people running around on playa at night, and guess what? If your bike isn't lit, THEY CAN'T SEE YOU. Riding an unlit bike is just asking to get whacked, and nursing a broken collarbone is a less-than-ideal way to spend your Burn. Without a headlight, you might not see that dude sleeping (read: speed bump) on the open playa. At the very least, it's a lot easier to find your bike amongst the acres of other bikes if you light it uniquely.
So please, if you take just *one* thing away from this JRS, it's this:
light your bike. Or die.
WHAT KIND OF BIKE SHOULD YOU BRING?
For the easiest cycling on the playa surface, the ideal bicycle is a beach cruiser with fat tires, or a mountain bike. Thin 10-speed type tires can make for some tough travel.
It should be in good shape enough to survive and ride smoothly, but keep in mind the playa turns any bike into a rustbucket in short order, so don't bring your multi-thousand dollar mountain bike if you don't plan on either having it destroyed, or doing some serious cleaning and restoration work on it after the event. Or you're a masochist.
Many participants (this Rabbit included) have a dedicated "playa bike" that's used exclusively for Burning Man ... so just go ahead and consider that.
The best information about bikes at Burning Man -- including what kind of bike is recommended to bring, how to maintain it, how to be safe and keep it from being stolen -- can be found in your Survival Guide (which you've read, right?), and also online at the Burning Man website, riiiiiiight here:
WHERE CAN I GET A BIKE?
Say you're flying into Reno, or you don't want to haul a bike for most of your drive. Well, there are plenty of places in Reno offering playa bikes for rent and sale. They include:
Black Rock Bicycles
7550 Hillview Dr – 775- 972-3336
The only bike outfit in Reno primarily catering to Burners. Brand new durable cruisers for women and men, for rent or purchase. To make rental arrangements, visit http://www.blackrockbicycles.com. To buy a bike or bike-accessories (lock, bell, lights, basket, rack), Black Rock Bicycles has also teamed up with two local Save Mart supermarkets to sell new cruisers at the stores, now and through the week of Burning Man. You can also find Black Rock Bicycles for purchase at Prism Magic Clothing. Locations:
Save Mart Supermarket
525 Keystone Avenue, Reno, 775-786-2150
195 West Plumb Lane, Reno, 775-786-0138
Prism Magic Clothing
2161 Pyramid Way, Sparks, 775-356-5577
Tell 'em the Rabbit sent you. And then they'll go "Huh?", and you'll look like an idiot.
Once again, Burning Man is running the Community Bike program, offering a fleet of community bicycles available for anyone who needs a one-way ride. Community Bikes are easy to spot because they are painted BRIGHT GREEN, with no visible brand and/or the words "YELLOW BIKE" painted on the frame.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when using a Community Bike:
- Community Bikes are for temporary use by anyone without immediate access to their own bike. This is not YOUR loaner bike for the week. Bike rides are only a one-way, temporary guarantee.
- If a Community Bike breaks while you're using it, use Radical Self- Reliance to get it repaired for the next person. Check with Playa Info at Center Camp for a repair camp if you can't Do-It-Yourself (DIY).
- NEVER LOCK A COMMUNITY BIKE. The bike camp team will cut any locks from community bikes. Don't bring a Community Bike into your tent or RV, and don't take it home when you leave the playa.
- Community Bikes are meant for short trips. Grab a community bike, make your trek, and then drop it off where you found it, or leave it in an obvious public place. Do not keep a community bike in your camp.
- Community Bikes should be treated with respect, as if it was your own. Be nice to the bike. Don't trash it, vandalize it or part it out! It's a shared community resource. And don't forget personal hygiene ... pants are required while riding a community bike.
We heart the Community Bike program. Let's keep it working. Here's a blog post about it, if you want to share it with your friends:
DON'T WANT YOUR BIKE TO GET STOLEN? OK THEN ...
If you don't want your bike stolen on the playa, then always lock it up wherever you leave it. Rocket science, right? The unfortunate reality is that bicycles get stolen (or "recklessly borrowed") because they're unlocked. This has been the case for years and years. The only bikes that should never be locked are GREEN Community Bikes.
Here's a handy tip: you can always sharpie your name and camp address on the frame of your bike, and maybe some kind soul will find your bike and have the presence of mind to return it to you ("stealing" tends to be of a spontaneous and ultimately temporary nature more often than not). We'd guess the odds of that happening are actually pretty good: the great majority of Burners are good peeps.
Burning Man is not responsible if your bike gets stolen. We're supposed to say that, I think. Either way, we're not.
BIKE REPAIR ON PLAYA
The key concept when it comes to bike repair on playa is? Self- reliance. You should bring everything you need to service your own bike, including basic tools, a bike pump and extra innertubes or a patch kit. Your mom doesn't live here (or maybe she does, but she's probably not a bike mechanic; or maybe she is, but she probably thinks it's time you fend for yourself ... she told us so).
There is at least one bike repair camp on playa, but (and maybe this is petty), we're not going to tell you where they are, lest they become your first resort and get swamped. They should be your *last* resort. Anyway, they provide NO parts, ONLY tools. If you really need 'em, you can find 'em.
So, but again: self-reliance. Key concept.
GOT A BIG THEME CAMP? PROVIDE BIKE RACKS!
If your theme camp is planning on attracting the masses, do everybody a favor and provide some bike racks! Strewn bikes can present a public safety hazard, considering how hard it is for Rangers and emergency service personnel to respond quickly to a situation when they have to wend their way through a thicket of tossed bikes. Information about building simple and effective bike racks can be found on Burningman.com:
DISPOSING OF YOUR BIKE AT THE END OF THE EVENT
The absolute least cool thing you can do with your bike at the end of the event is to abandon it on the playa. Way. Way. Uncool. Our hardworking crews are forced to round up all the abandoned bikes at the end of the event and dispose of them. Lots of bikes. And that sucks.
If you really don't want that bike anymore, that's cool, but please ... recycle it in Reno. Wait, you can do that? Yes! And not to mention all of them bikes will be donated to the Kiwanis Bike Program for Kids in Reno. Nice. Beats ditching them on the playa, right? Same result, only with postive Karma. OK, so where? Here:
Whole Foods Market
6139 South Virginia Street, Reno
Save Mart Supermarket
525 Keystone Ave (back), 775-786-2150
195 West Plumb Ln (back), 775-786-0138
565 East Prater Way, 775-359-9450
9750 Pyramid Lake Hwy, 775-425-2700
Ok, and when? August 28 - September 9 ... recycling centers are open 24 hours.
And may we just add ... big props to people in the community who help make programs like these happen.
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Soundtrack for this JRS: Choir of Young Believers, Bowerbirds