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Burning Man bikes

Old 09-09-16, 12:38 PM
  #1  
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Burning Man bikes

I just got back from my first trip to Burning Man , The party in the Black Rock desert in Nevada where about 70 thousand people create a city out of nothing and party 24/7 for a week and then leave without leaving a trace that they have ever been there.

Just about everyone brings a bike and you will see everything from Huffy Cranbrook single speeds and old mountain bikes ( the overwhelming majority) to huge 80 lb. fat tire electric bikes , unicycles, and even an occasional skinny tired 10 speed.

My camp, Nose Fish, did bike repair daily from 2-5 pm and repaired hundreds of bikes during the week.

If you are going to the event next year I would like to give you some advise that might make your trip more enjoyable.

Beware of people selling Burner bikes.

We had quite a few people who had bought a $50 bike off craigslist days before the event and hadn't checked it out ahead of time . Some of these bikes had seen a few burns and had never been serviced. They were literally falling apart.

The environment at black rock desert is very harsh. It is a dry lake bed and the ground is very alkaline and when people drive or walk on it dust the consistency of talcum powder is blown around by the wind which can create white outs where you can't see 10 feet in front of you. when you ride your bike around the dust gets into everything. It cakes on your chain, gets into your cassette or freewheel, and gums up your brakes. After a week of this even a new bike will start showing signs of degraded performance.

Many people bought new Cranbrook's from wall mart just before coming. Unfortunately the build quality of these bikes is terrible and even new bikes failed out there.

To give you an idea of what can go wrong one coaster brake bike with an ashtabula bottom bracket came in with the crank flopping around. When we pulled it out we found the bearing cages had disintegrated with rust and half the bearings had fallen out. How that bike even made it out to the event is a wonder. Another woman brought her Cranbrook in saying it was hard to pedal. I wound up disassembling the rear hub and finding all the grease was completely dried up. Luckily the bearings were still o/k and after cleaning and new grease she was on her way.

On mountain bikes we often found that one or both brakes were disconnected . Some times the brake pads were completely worn away but often, re attaching the cable and adjusting the pads was all it took to get them stopping.

Another common problem with cassettes was that they were not spinning freely. Spraying some boeshield into the innards and spinning the gears usually flushed them out and got everything working again.

Riding a bike around Burning man can be a terrifying experience for the faint of heart. Imagine putting a couple thousand novice riders onto a football field and having them all ride around in random directions at 5-10 mph . Then insert some drug crazed macho a holes who ride through everything at speed. Then imagine doing this at night with no external lighting , only the led light strings folks use to decorate their bikes and some head lamps and other mostly decorative lighting . Now add to this some Dark wads( people without any lighting at all) riding around and others walking on foot equally dark.

I found it truly amazing that by and large there was no carnage out there. I am sure that there were accidents. There was an ambulance service on site and you did see them coming and going to the infirmary frequently.

Personally, My bike was well lit with a 3 ft tall pole on the back wrapped with REd led's , a flashing rear light at the front and rear, and a high power head light (which I ran on the dim setting so as not to piss off too many people) and I was thankful that I was so well lit. The headlight was especially useful for spotting loose fluffy areas where if you weren't prepares the deep powdery dirt would bring you to an abrupt halt.

Having said all the above I really enjoyed my experience in the desert. It is like no other event I have ever been to.

If you are going to try to go there be prepared. Bring a Macgyver kit with various spit and glue to get you out of a tight spot and at least a spare tube and hopefully a tire. Bring zip ties, a cup( because when you frequent the many bars you have to bring your own), and some vinegar to neutralize the alkaline playa dust, and please do a service on your bike before you go. This place is huge. It will take you 1/2 to 1 hour just to ride from one end of the city to the other. You don't want to break down and have to walk around all week. I can relate as one night my rear tire disintegrated at the far edge of the city and I had to push the bike all the way back to camp. luckily we had a few spare 26" tires at camp.

Jonny
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Old 09-09-16, 01:08 PM
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Thanks for the info. You've saved me from ever attending this event!
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Old 09-09-16, 01:14 PM
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You couldn't pay me to go there.
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Old 09-09-16, 01:16 PM
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Always wanted to go to that. How are the people? A lot of fights or does everyone get along?
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Old 09-09-16, 02:25 PM
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awesome! Good for you for going and on top of that offering bike services to tons of people. All around great story
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Old 09-09-16, 02:31 PM
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Did you charge a fee or barter? Like they say #$%#$, gas, or cash no one rides for FREE!!
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Old 09-09-16, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by capnjonny View Post
about 70 thousand people create a city out of nothing and party 24/7 for a week and then leave without leaving a trace that they have ever been there.
It isn't possible that 70,000 people spend a week in one place and leave no trace that they had ever been there.

All their waste goes somewhere. If not the desert, then somewhere else.
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Old 09-09-16, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by kevindsingleton View Post
Thanks for the info. You've saved me from ever attending this event!
Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
You couldn't pay me to go there.
I have never wanted to go, and this post makes me never want to go even more...
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Old 09-09-16, 03:02 PM
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You could pay me to go there. But as an aging hippie, I still love hippies. One of my longtime e-friends is a musician who plays there almost every year (Hanna, violinist). She's brilliant and beautiful. Hope to meet her in person someday.

Good info on the bikes, thanks! If you're on Facebook would you mind sharing your contact info? If you post this same advice on Facebook I'll share it there as well.
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Old 09-09-16, 07:55 PM
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Old 09-09-16, 07:59 PM
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I was just going to post that.
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Old 09-09-16, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
It isn't possible that 70,000 people spend a week in one place and leave no trace that they had ever been there.

All their waste goes somewhere. If not the desert, then somewhere else.
that was a deep thought. I don't think it was implied that the waste 70,000 people produce in a week just vanishes into thin air. POOF!

oye
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Old 09-09-16, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
It isn't possible that 70,000 people spend a week in one place and leave no trace that they had ever been there.

All their waste goes somewhere. If not the desert, then somewhere else.
True, but then their waste isn't where they were before they got there.
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Old 09-09-16, 08:16 PM
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Yes, it's pretty hard trying to imagine this not leaving a trace: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Bl...4d-119.2030177
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Old 09-09-16, 08:47 PM
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I'm sure that statement "leave without leaving a trace that they have ever been there" is a delusion that some substance-abused visionary just enjoyed hearing himself say.

Not the OP, of course. Heaven forbid! But somebody.
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Old 09-09-16, 11:24 PM
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Having read your comments here are a few answers :

People who should not go to burning Man

Anyone under 18 or over 65
Anyone who has a problem with nudity
Any one who has a problem with loud constant noise 24/7
Anyone who has even a mild clean fetish
Anyone who doesn't like alcohol
Anyone who smokes pot all the time ( there are about 6 different law enforcement agencies there including undercover)
Anyone who thinks they can sneak in ( they have high tech 10 mile radar and roving patrols)
Anyone who doesn't respect the 10 principles ( look it up)

In fact I saw 80 year old 's and 3 yr old's but not many. At 68 I am on the edge of the curve ( but then I have always been there )

Actually YOU pay to go there . All up It cost me about $1000 for tickets, gas, food, and camp expenses for 14 days which included staying at the KOA at boomtown a night on the way up and the way back. At the event most of the organization is volunteer and there is a lot. There is nothing to spend money on except ice. It is a gifting economy. You go to a bar and they give you a drink . Your bike breaks and we fix it ( or harass you for being stupid and bringing a crappy bike but then fix it and give you a hug. ) There are a lot of organized camps that provide entertainment or services. There is even a camp that sets up a roller rink complete with disco music and skates.

In the entire time I was there I saw NO hostile behavior ( except at the verbal abuse camp but then you asked for it....Literally )

Believe me , working on bikes was great fun , sort of like being in a mash unit. your main goal is to keep those bikes alive at least for the rest of the week and we made good use of spit and glue and zip ties. And, you sometimes got to hug topless women (and men ).

No fee, no barter , only gifting, but often people would bring us gifts as a token of their appreciation, anything from a bottle of champagne to a beer to a cliff bar in it's own hand knitted cozy. For our part we gave away about 12 tubes, a couple tires, and various sundry bits and pieces.

One day a few of my camp mates were sitting around and a young man approached our tent and asked if we would like an espresso . Two women said yes. He proceeded to take a small gas stove out of his back pack along with an espresso maker and 2 small cups and saucers . he then made 2 cups of espresso coffee which he handed to them . When they finished he brought out a handy wipe, cleaned the cups, put away his kit and wished us a pleasant day.

Regarding leave no trace everyone takes that seriously . Yes people do create trash . It is all picked up and packed out. Along the highway back to Reno the Piute tribe has multiple dumpsters and charges $6/ bag to take it. At the venue there is a camp organized around recycling aluminum cans . After the event there are work parties combing every inch of the site and if your camp leaves a mess you will hear about it.

If you never wanted to go to this event you probably shouldn't (or maybe you should- it might change your life - or not)

Aging hippies are most welcome there , also pyromaniacs, and beautiful women . Even Silicon Valley billionaires occasionally fly in to the Black Rock Airport to see the sights . High tech is definitely honored as well as artistic creativity.
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Old 09-09-16, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by capnjonny View Post
Even Silicon Valley billionaires occasionally fly in to the Black Rock Airport to see the sights . High tech is definitely honored as well as artistic creativity.
Try again?

Burning Man: VIP luxury camp vandalized during party - NY Daily News

p.s. Saw numerous Burners driving back into the Bay Area on Monday. Lots of white/grey dusty vehicles with craptastic bikes being driven slowly, many times in the "fast" lane. Those Burners definitely matched the stereotype.
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Old 09-10-16, 12:37 AM
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Any photos of art bikes?
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Old 09-10-16, 06:17 AM
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Never cared enough to pay attention, but now, after reading more about the event I can safely say that the masses will have to enjoy it without me. I could have a lot more fun on a lot less dollars if I were to spend a week or two away from home by going to places that are quiet and devoid of people in general.

I wouldn't pay to get in, much less drive across three states any more than I'd drive across town to go to the mall. Nothing there for me.
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Old 09-10-16, 11:15 AM
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google Burning man mutant bikes and choose photos.
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Old 09-12-16, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by capnjonny View Post
Having read your comments here are a few answers :

People who should not go to burning Man

Anyone under 18 or over 65
Anyone who has a problem with nudity
Any one who has a problem with loud constant noise 24/7
Anyone who has even a mild clean fetish
Anyone who doesn't like alcohol
Anyone who smokes pot all the time ( there are about 6 different law enforcement agencies there including undercover)
Anyone who thinks they can sneak in ( they have high tech 10 mile radar and roving patrols)
Anyone who doesn't respect the 10 principles ( look it up)

In fact I saw 80 year old 's and 3 yr old's but not many. At 68 I am on the edge of the curve ( but then I have always been there )

Actually YOU pay to go there . All up It cost me about $1000 for tickets, gas, food, and camp expenses for 14 days which included staying at the KOA at boomtown a night on the way up and the way back. At the event most of the organization is volunteer and there is a lot. There is nothing to spend money on except ice. It is a gifting economy. You go to a bar and they give you a drink . Your bike breaks and we fix it ( or harass you for being stupid and bringing a crappy bike but then fix it and give you a hug. ) There are a lot of organized camps that provide entertainment or services. There is even a camp that sets up a roller rink complete with disco music and skates.

In the entire time I was there I saw NO hostile behavior ( except at the verbal abuse camp but then you asked for it....Literally )

Believe me , working on bikes was great fun , sort of like being in a mash unit. your main goal is to keep those bikes alive at least for the rest of the week and we made good use of spit and glue and zip ties. And, you sometimes got to hug topless women (and men ).

No fee, no barter , only gifting, but often people would bring us gifts as a token of their appreciation, anything from a bottle of champagne to a beer to a cliff bar in it's own hand knitted cozy. For our part we gave away about 12 tubes, a couple tires, and various sundry bits and pieces.

One day a few of my camp mates were sitting around and a young man approached our tent and asked if we would like an espresso . Two women said yes. He proceeded to take a small gas stove out of his back pack along with an espresso maker and 2 small cups and saucers . he then made 2 cups of espresso coffee which he handed to them . When they finished he brought out a handy wipe, cleaned the cups, put away his kit and wished us a pleasant day.

Regarding leave no trace everyone takes that seriously . Yes people do create trash . It is all picked up and packed out. Along the highway back to Reno the Piute tribe has multiple dumpsters and charges $6/ bag to take it. At the venue there is a camp organized around recycling aluminum cans . After the event there are work parties combing every inch of the site and if your camp leaves a mess you will hear about it.

If you never wanted to go to this event you probably shouldn't (or maybe you should- it might change your life - or not)

Aging hippies are most welcome there , also pyromaniacs, and beautiful women . Even Silicon Valley billionaires occasionally fly in to the Black Rock Airport to see the sights . High tech is definitely honored as well as artistic creativity.
Sounds ghastly. Liquor is permitted, but pot is not? Those aren't hippies; they're just playing at it.

From "the principles":

"No prerequisites exist for participation in our community." - Well, except for paying to get in, and signing up well in advance to reserve a space, and adhering to all of these principles. Other than that, there are no rules! Except for the pot police and the trash police.

"Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources." - Failing that, we have support systems spread throughout the camp, and they'll fill in any gaps your "inner resources" forgot to bring along.

"We value civil society." - As long as you consider nudity, filth, and constant loud noises of all types to be "civil".

You pay the Indians to take your trash? So, you're not recycling every ounce of waste? Do you use commercially produced garbage bags? Carried in your commercially produced RVs or SUVs?

Radar? Roving patrols to prevent unauthorized participation?

Hippies sure ain't what they used to be!
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Old 09-12-16, 08:29 AM
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CASI events sound more interesting, like the one close to home in Terlingua. People would haul in old living room furniture for their camps, then it was piled and burned on the last day until someone decided burning all of that foam and plastic wasn't a good idea. I don't recall an entry fee, but I'm reading it's $40 a person for the multi day event. That may only be for contestants.

Down there, if the noise is too much, one only has to go a little west for Big Bend Ranch State Park, or east to the National Park.
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Old 09-12-16, 09:09 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by idiotekniQues View Post
that was a deep thought. I don't think it was implied that the waste 70,000 people produce in a week just vanishes into thin air. POOF!

oye
No, it was not implied but stated explicitly.

"without leaving a trace that they have ever been there" are the OP's words, not mine.

The whole thing is billed as a totally benign but it isn't.
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Old 09-12-16, 11:08 AM
  #24  
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Waiting for a 'Bikes Of Burning Man' Pictorial Album to be presented.
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Old 09-12-16, 01:47 PM
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Next year I am going to document some of our repair.

Be advised , the pictures will not be for the faint of heart.

Bicycle Anatomy 100 A will be a prerequisite and those with weak stomachs may need smelling salts after viewing some of the more "graphic" operations.
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