To Bike or not to Bike?

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To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby rdavidlee » Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:10 am

I have read many recommendations on how necessary it is to have a bike at Burning Man. While the advantages of having a bicycle are obvious, it seems to me that a bike may be inconvenient in that it's something to keep track of and transport to and from BRC. I'd like to hear the opinions of experienced burners on the advantages and disadvantages of having a bicycle versus just walking.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby junglesmacks » Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:14 am

During the day, for me.. absolutely yes. Way too many things to see.

At night, for me.. never. I walk everywhere. Way too many things to see. :D


So, you won't die if you dont have one.. there are green bikes, etc. But, it does enhance your experience. YMMV.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby BBadger » Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:47 am

My friends and I got our bikes stolen the second night we were there and we had to borrow other campmate bikes the remainder of the trip. It SUCKS not having a bike. The playa is HUGE, bigger than you will ever imagine if you haven't been there before. There is tons of cool stuff that is walkable, but there is also lot of cool stuff way out in the deeper playa that is hard to get to without transportation. Even with bikes we never made it to some of the really far stuff because it was so tiring from the distances even on bikes, and we ended up having to walk our bikes when encountering soft playa conditions. Still, it would've taken forever to walk that distance; even going from camp to camp in BRC is best done on bike.

Mind you, most of this was at night; so don't think bikes are just a day thing. Something about discovering art project in the middle of the desert identifiable only by the glow of their solar-powered markers is a lot of fun. Like a treasure hunt. There is also brightly lit stuff in the distance that you just WANT to check out. We found a movie theatre out in the middle of the playa. Who knows what we'll find this year? Still, it is essential to have the bike in the first place. Had our bikes not been stolen we could've locked them down there and hung around that place longer. So bring a lock, and USE THE LOCK. Then you can park those bikes somewhere and do some walking if you want.

If you need lights for your bike so you don't get run-over, go grab a Bikeglow with the coupon code BURNINGMAN2011 for about 60% off or so (~$13 a kit + shipping), and get a headlamp to light the way. It's DARK.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby FIGJAM » Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:54 am

Zoom in to get a perspective of how much you will walk without a bike.

http://www.gigapan.org/gigapans/fullscreen/66285/
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby Savannah » Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:52 am

There have been years when I barely touched my bike, and years where I rode long distances daily. At night, on occasion, I have enjoyed biking at top speed in the middle of nowhere . . . but usually, I'm on foot at night.

If it's a pain in the ass to bring a bike--but possible--bring one (and some lights and a lock for it. Lock it to itself in public, as a temporary measure, if you see no likely spot to tie it).

However, if it's impossible to bring one, don't panic. It is not a must for everyone. It is simply extremely handy, and allows you to see a lot more. The city's huge, and getting a ride on an art car can be difficult.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby trilobyte » Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:53 am

I've had mixed results with bikes.

For my first year. I got a great deal on a good used bike. It had a couple gears and great knobby tires and could manage on the playa without much trouble. I found that I was only using it occasionally, though. Sure I can ride one, but I'm easily distracted and I didn't feel leaving camp on a bike if I thought I was going to get far enough from sober that I wouldn't be able to ride it safely (didn't want to hurt myself or others, or be that guy who forgot where he left his bike). Still, it's a big-ass city, and even if you only use it for occasional daytime travel, it's worth the hassle.

For a couple years, I had the benefit of working on or building an art car, which made the bike even less useful for me (why pedal when you can go in the pirate ship?). Plus, art car surfing (catching random rides with different art cars) can be amazing fun (please note, art cars are not taxis or buses - if they're not going your way you can either accept that and see where it takes you or just pass on the ride offered).

Kept bringing it, but used it less and less, and eventually just gifted the bike to a first-timer campmate. Even though we had an art car that year, not having a bike made a huge difference in the experience. I walked where I needed to, and upon reflection (and looking back through my pictures) I realized I saw far less of both the city and the playa than I ever had in previous years.

This year, I think I've solved my problem - got a trike! It was more expensive (I got a folding trike, which would be easier to pack and something I could use year-round), but three wheels are more stable than two and I'm hoping I'll get a lot of use out of it.

You can look up the public bike program, and see if that's something that will fit your needs. The down side is a bike may not be available when/where you need it and you'll probably still do a lot more walking, but depending on how your trip is coming together that might be a workable solution. Good luck!
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby Ugly Dougly » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:03 am

Bike.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby DhammaSeeker » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:01 am

Ugly Dougly wrote:Bike.

+1
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby misfit » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:09 am

bike,,, and someone to pedal...
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby portaplaya » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:24 am

There is no "right" answer to this.

You can get by without a bike. It is possible to borrow from campmates, use the green community bikes (please remember to leave it out to share with others when you are done), or even just walk everywhere. This saves you the hassle of bringing a bike, plus the hassle back home cleaning it so the playa does not turn it into a pile of rust. And no one can steal something you don't bring.

You can also get a bit more from the event if you have a bike. You are unlikely to sweep through all of the art in the deep playa. But I also wouldn't say that this is critical to enjoying the event. I've never seen one of the many wheelchair riders out in deep playa either, but they keep coming back to Burning Man.

I had a bike lose a part while riding around on Tuesday last year. I did not get it repaired until Friday and managed just fine for most of the event without the bike. And I was camped way out at 2:30. I don't feel that I had a worse year because of that.

In the past, I also came one year without a bike at all (I flew into Reno that year). I made do with borrowing from a lovely campmate. Perhaps it is ironic that I now own that bike I borrowed, gifted when she upgraded.

But I do prefer to bring a bike so that I have the choice between walking or riding at any given time.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby essjay » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:53 am

I think a bike is necessary. The playa is just too big.

Are you camping with anyone? What are they doing? If your campmates have bikes, you will need one.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby Eric » Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:27 pm

I'm with the "bike" crowd- last year I was camped at Esplanade & 3:30, one of my best friends was at about 7:45 & D. On a bike it took about 10-15 minutes to get over there, walking would easily take 45.

I have done a couple of years without a bike due to mechanical failures on playa that I couldn't fix, and I still had a great time but I definitely saw less than usual those years. I love going into the deep playa at night and that's not really an option without a bike unless you like to carry a large quantity of water on your back.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby SnowBlind » Thu Aug 11, 2011 3:03 pm

As others have said, this is a total YMMV. I didn't have a bike my first year. I've brought them ever since.

You absolutely *can* do it without a bike, but I personally wouldn't want to be without one.

I agree though that sometimes you should not take the bike and wander around on foot, but having a bike makes it so much easier to see things on the other side of town, or on the deep playa.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby StevenGoodman » Thu Aug 11, 2011 3:23 pm

If you have access to a mutant vehicle a bike isn't really needed. There is a lot of art out on the playa that is a LONG LONG walk. And the only way to really see it is a bike or a mutant vehicle.

Having a bike means you can do it whenever you want. I like going out in the AM on my bike when it is quiet and no one is around.

At night a bike is often worse than walking. Unless you have a long way to go. But even an 45 minute walk to the other side of BRC is more interesting than a bike ride.

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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby Hoolie » Thu Aug 11, 2011 4:59 pm

Bike is definitely the way to go, imo. You can access so much more. They are useful for errands like ice runs. Also, when you ride during the day, the breeze you get as you ride along helps cool you down. When you walk in the midday heat, the sun really beats down on you. Just be sure to lock your bike at all times. Bike thievery is getting worse out there. My wife's bike was stolen by some cretin midweek last year, literally from behind our backs, and it really made the remainder of the event more difficult. Not fun when everyone in your group except one person has a bike. Don't count on using the yellow bikes. They disappear pretty quickly. You see them in motion, but you don't see them parked. People hoard them. They hide them deep within their camps. They lock them. I even saw one completely covered in fabric as a disguise. Sad that the awesome goodwill of those who provide the yellow bikes is completely cancelled out by selfish a-holes. Next time, I plan to install BMX pegs on my rear hub, so I can give rides to bikeless friends and strangers alike.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby BBadger » Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:14 am

Hoolie wrote:Bike is definitely the way to go, imo. You can access so much more. They are useful for errands like ice runs. Also, when you ride during the day, the breeze you get as you ride along helps cool you down. When you walk in the midday heat, the sun really beats down on you. Just be sure to lock your bike at all times. Bike thievery is getting worse out there. My wife's bike was stolen by some cretin midweek last year, literally from behind our backs, and it really made the remainder of the event more difficult. Not fun when everyone in your group except one person has a bike.


Yeah, we were sitting watching something and all three bikes were stolen. I swear there are some thieves just waiting for the moment that a bike is unattended to spring on them and leave. And yeah, it SUCKS when one person is without a bike. You don't want to leave them behind, but you also don't want to be stuck doing circles around them or leaving the bike at home.

On another note, I think it'd be hilarious if a bike were equipped with one of those "stopping wheels" that grocery stores use to prevent people from taking carts off the parking lot when they get out of range of the transmitter. Then some would-be thief gets face-planted on his (your) stolen bike.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby Packoderm » Fri Aug 12, 2011 6:27 am

One time we turned around to find several thieves trying to take off on our bikes. We ran full speed to them, and all but one got away with luckily our all our bikes left behind. At a full speed run, I tackled the one who was still fumbling with the lock on my bike. While we were rolling on the ground, I managed to get a grasp of his short hair on the top of his head, and I repeatedly slammed the back of his head onto the playa surface. One of my friends took off on his bike going the direction back to camp. I then held the thief's head still on the playa surface with one hand, curled my other hand into a tight fist, and with a blinding thirst for violence I've never known before, I proceeded to punch his face repeatedly with all the strength I had. It must have been at least 50-60 full force punches. My friend who took off toward camp came back with some handcuffs and rebar. We took a chain and lock and chained the thief's feet together, tied one end of a rope to the chain that was wrapped around his ankles and tied the other end of the rope to our bikes. Riding full speed, we dragged the thief to the trash fence in the open playa. After we pounded the rebar staples into the ground, we handcuffed the thief's hands and feet to the rebar in spread eagle fashion. With the thief securely prone to the ground, we rode our bicycles over his abdomen gaining a small amount of lift a la Evel Knievel. About that time, another of my campmates strode up with a gallon can of gasoline in one hand and a lighter in the other. Well, none of this actually happened, but it gives a certain amount of satisfaction that maybe one of those bike thief creeps is reading this and know how some of us feel.


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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby shroom » Fri Aug 12, 2011 6:34 am

I didn't take a bike and wish I did. Many reasons I didn't include, room in the truck, it was a crappy bike that wasn't in good shape and I wasn't sure how to ride it in my big flowy skirts I had packed. I saw a lot of the playa and hitched rides when I could, but I was very tired and had sore feet in some of my shoes.

I do plan on bringing a bike to my next burn and will practice riding in big flowy skirts first.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby Hoolie » Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:04 am

BBadger wrote:On another note, I think it'd be hilarious if a bike were equipped with one of those "stopping wheels" that grocery stores use to prevent people from taking carts off the parking lot when they get out of range of the transmitter. Then some would-be thief gets face-planted on his (your) stolen bike.

Yeah, I was definitely formulating ideas for bike thief booby traps last year.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby Hoolie » Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:05 am

shroom wrote:I didn't take a bike and wish I did. Many reasons I didn't include, room in the truck, it was a crappy bike that wasn't in good shape and I wasn't sure how to ride it in my big flowy skirts I had packed. I saw a lot of the playa and hitched rides when I could, but I was very tired and had sore feet in some of my shoes.

I do plan on bringing a bike to my next burn and will practice riding in big flowy skirts first.

A step-through frame and a chain guard would be very helpful with the flowy skirt riding.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby shroom » Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:11 am

Hoolie wrote:
shroom wrote:I didn't take a bike and wish I did. Many reasons I didn't include, room in the truck, it was a crappy bike that wasn't in good shape and I wasn't sure how to ride it in my big flowy skirts I had packed. I saw a lot of the playa and hitched rides when I could, but I was very tired and had sore feet in some of my shoes.

I do plan on bringing a bike to my next burn and will practice riding in big flowy skirts first.

A step-through frame and a chain guard would be very helpful with the flowy skirt riding.



Thanks! I will look for that since the bike I was talking about has been given away, it was really bad.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby FIGJAM » Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:39 am

Yeah, it would be nice to bump that "Bait Bike" thread, but I can't find it.

Someone built some bikes for it, Elliot I think.

Huge rear sprocket so they could only go 3 mph, cut frame with spring inserts for a callapsing bike, self breaking after 20ft bike, and the spring loaded kickstand are the ones I racall.

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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby portaplaya » Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:51 am

My wife gets thrills going into camps were she sees someone tried to hide a Green Bike and "liberating" it by early morning light. She also restores those that seem to be deliberately disabled (another method of long term "reservation" people try is to let the air out of the tires and use a campmate's pump in the afternoon) and goes out into deep playa to bring bikes individually back to the city in the morning.

Don't do any of these things, people. I like to see my wife now and then and assholes that can't follow the Community principle are overworking her.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby rdavidlee » Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:28 am

So far I'm gathering that a)I should bring a bike and b) if I don't bring a bike, I shouldn't get caught stealing one from Packoderm.
Seriously, I appreciate all the input. It's been very helpful. I'll see you all in a couple weeks!
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby Savannah » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:07 am

portaplaya wrote:My wife gets thrills going into camps were she sees someone tried to hide a Green Bike and "liberating" it by early morning light. She also restores those that seem to be deliberately disabled (another method of long term "reservation" people try is to let the air out of the tires and use a campmate's pump in the afternoon) and goes out into deep playa to bring bikes individually back to the city in the morning.

Don't do any of these things, people. I like to see my wife now and then and assholes that can't follow the Community principle are overworking her.


I like your wife! She sounds spirited. Like a trickster faerie, only more positive.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby Packoderm » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:09 am

FIGJAM wrote:Yeah, it would be nice to bump that "Bait Bike" thread, but I can't find it.

Someone built some bikes for it, Elliot I think.

Huge rear sprocket so they could only go 3 mph, cut frame with spring inserts for a callapsing bike, self breaking after 20ft bike, and the spring loaded kickstand are the ones I racall.

With megaphones, lights, and camera at the ready! :twisted:



I'd love to see those videos.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby Packoderm » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:09 am

Savannah wrote:
portaplaya wrote:My wife gets thrills going into camps were she sees someone tried to hide a Green Bike and "liberating" it by early morning light. She also restores those that seem to be deliberately disabled (another method of long term "reservation" people try is to let the air out of the tires and use a campmate's pump in the afternoon) and goes out into deep playa to bring bikes individually back to the city in the morning.

Don't do any of these things, people. I like to see my wife now and then and assholes that can't follow the Community principle are overworking her.


I like your wife! She sounds spirited. Like a trickster faerie, only more positive.


Me too.
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby portaplaya » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:43 am

Savannah wrote:I like your wife! She sounds spirited. Like a trickster faerie, only more positive.


I like her too. And yes, she is like a positive trickster faerie. And she Rangers...
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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby Rhythmic » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:08 pm

I just bought a bike (today). My first bike (to go on my first burn) since I left home many years ago . I was resigned to possibly buying one from WM, but last night I saw a craigslist posting for a cheap bike and made contact. Turns out he's a Burner who is taking a break (possibly moving on). I can't wipe this smile off my face :D . One less item I have to worry about. He reminded me about getting a lock and using it. Now, I just need to get the accessories and a few decorations.
Check craigslist for the best deals, but I did see that WM had new bikes as low as $90.

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Re: To Bike or not to Bike?

Postby Savannah » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:15 pm

Linked in one of the recent Jack Rabbit Speaks Burning Man email newsletters:

Bike Rentals in Reno
http://www.burningman.com/preparation/t ... Bikes.html

If anyone wonders how to get all the wonderful "inside" information that Jack Rabbit Speaks distributes:
http://www.burningman.com/blackrockcity ... lists.html

(An example of its usefulness: most readers of the JRS realized tickets were going to sell out this year because JRS warned about the likelihood about once a month since January.)
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