Bicycle

The two main modes of transport in Black Rock City are walking and riding a bicycle. If you've never attended before it is difficult to imagine how huge this temporary city actually is. Bring a bicycle!

What Kind

This seems to be a matter of personal preference, but the vast majority of bikes on the Playa are cruiser style. Single speed, large seat, and upright posture when riding seems to be the most popular because of low cost, comfort, and easier maintenance in the dust. Another popular choice are mountain bikes. Try to avoid bringing expensive bikes. Avoid bicycles with narrow tires.

How Many Gears

Single speed bikes are great for their simplicity. Multi speed bike derailers tend to be more affected by the dust and may cause some issues. Those who do bring multi geared bikes generally pick one gear they like and don't shift it all week.

Bicycle Illumination

This is just repeated from my lighting page - Black Rock City is a pedestrian and bicycle city. If you are bringing a bike (highly recommended), you should at the very least have lighting for it at the front and back. Lighting the sides will improve your safety and is a good idea as well, but less essential. Headlights should be aimed to illuminate the ground in front - if you aim them too high you will blind oncoming traffic.

Hauling Capacity

Sometimes it is handy to haul stuff on your bike (such as ice). At its simplest this means attaching a basket or rack. If you don't regularly ride with a loaded basket on the front of your bike, it is much better to mount a rack on the back of the bike. Loaded handlebar mounted baskets affect riding balance and stability much more than rear mounted. At its simplest, attaching a plastic crate to the bike with zip ties will work in a pinch.

Another popular option is a trailer designed for towing kids behind a bike.

Practice

For those who don't ride much, part of the playa experience is a really sore ass. I kid you not - you will see folks trying all sorts of futile methods to pad their seat. Get used to riding that bike long before using it on the playa. You will regret it if you don't in the form of aching muscles and a nasty case of playa ass (sore and / or blistered from a bike seat). I learned my lesson and now ride my bike to work a minimum of 3 times a week.

Lock It

Bike theft (or as I like to call it - Radical Self Gifting) is rampant on the playa. Sometimes it is just a case of mistaken identity, or someone who is in such an altered state they just grab the first bike they see. In the case of expensive bikes sometimes it is professional thieves preying on our trusting community. Regardless of the reason, use of even a cheap 3.00 locking cable will go a long way towards ensuring your bike remains where you leave it. If possible get a combination lock that lets you program the number and use the last 4 digits of your phone number or some other easily remembered number. If in doubt - sharpie the number on your arm. I would avoid key locks as keys are easily lost.

The important thing is to remember to take 20 seconds to lock your bike whenever you get off of it. No matter how long you are stopping for, no matter where you are stopping. porto potties, bar camp, art, it doesn't matter. If you will be more than 1 step away or out of view of the bike - lock it.

Color

Whatever suits you except neon green / chartreuse. The public loaner bikes are this color so avoid hassles and bring any other color.

Decorating

Decorating your bike so it looks unique will make it more fun to ride, less likely to be taken by mistake, and make it easier to find in a sea of bikes. Hint: Decorations that are tall or stick up higher than normal bike height may make it easier to locate when it's in the middle of a huge parking area such as those near the big sound camps.

Flying In

Those flying in have two basic choices for a bike - buy a cheap one or rent one. If you do not plan on taking your bike home, please buy a Huffy Cranbrook Cruiser 26" - these can be donated to the Yellow Bike program when you are done with it and helps increase the amount of loaner bikes available. Wally Mart has them in the $95 range as of this writing. There is also the option of renting a bike in Reno. Bike rentals are used to raise money for a good cause and usually announced in the Jack Rabbit Speaks Newsletter shortly before the event.

If you bought a bike, don't leave it on the playa as moop - there are organizations that will restore them and donate them to worthy causes Such as the Reno Bike Project. Again there may be additional info in the Jack Rabbit Speaks Newsletter.

Yellow Bikes

Throughout the city you will see thousands of chartreuse green bikes with "yellow bike" stenciled on them. These are loaner bikes that you can just hop on and ride. As soon as you get off it becomes a ride for someone else.

Yellow Bikes are free, community bikes for all citizens of Black Rock City to enjoy. The rules are simple:
1.Don’t steal (or redecorate) them.
2.Ride them, and then leave them for the next person to use.
3.Wear pants while riding them.
4. I just want to add - Don't hide them in your camp or put a lock on one.

For more information and some photos click here.

Abandoned Bikes

At the end of the week it's not uncommon to find several bikes that are not yours in camp. These may have simply been lost, or stolen then abandoned. The Org makes an effort to reunite lost bikes with their owners so leave these by the side of the road and DPW will pick them up. If you lose a bike try contacting lost and found and you may recover it.

 

Guide