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30 Days to Burning Man 2009: How To Get You, Your Bike & Your Camp BRC Ready

August 2, 2009


Burning Man starts in 30 days. Are you ready? What should you be doing NOW in preparation?

ONE: Get bike ready.Monkey Lectric Lights

Beg, borrow, buy a bike. A bike is an absolute necessity in order to get around that big old playa. It’s not like there are bus stops and you never know when an art car might come by that will stop and make room for you. Make sure NOW your bike runs well, and that you have extra tubes. Make sure it’s well lit: blinking rear lights, front headlight, side reflectors. Spend some time getting around by bike so you’ll be in shape and won’t get too saddle sore.

Then start fixing it up! Our Monkey Lectric lights came in the mail and we’re busy attaching them; mine went on last night so I could show it off to friends gathered for a planning party for the Animal Fair Ride Friday August 7 and Ventura  County Fair Parade Saturday Aug 8 (that’s right–the Ventura ArtRiders Bicycle and Social Club is an official entry!! We’ll be riding bikes in our animal suits playing kazoos! Great practice for Burning Man!) Please tell MonkeyLectric the Art Predator aka Gwendolyn Alley (Sheridan) sent you!

securedownload Being well lit is super important out on the playa both so you can see where you’re going and so others can see you. There are lots of great ways to do it and I’ll add another post on this topic soon with some DIY solutions. This year we’re lucky that it’s a full moon on Friday night which will be beautiful but also make getting around a lot easier.

Give your bike a funky paint job! Source some spray paint and go wild! This makes your bike more fun and more distinct–harder for someone to accidentally grab it. Hot glue fur onto it. Deck your bike out so it matches what you’re wearing so your bike is part of your ensemble–no clashing costumes with bikes!

TWO: Get your lights in order. Avoid glowsticks.

This is kind of a corollary to getting lights on your bike. For years, people on the playa consumed thousands and thousands of glow sticks. They made you findable for your friends, but they create a lot of trash from the packaging to the one use only glowsticks themselves (although they can work for two nights out there if when you get back to camp you put them in a cooler…)

EL wire is the bomb.

And there’s lots of ways to adapt it and use it, especially if you’re somewhat engineering minded and comfortable with a soldering iron. Far better to go to or elsewhere to find battery operated led lights. Order a bunch to give out on the playa!

Solar lights are easy to source these days, but you want to set them up and get them ready NOW, not on the playa. There are lots of great ones out there or you can modify them like our friend Alan Sailer does and make something really cool. Figuring out something lit to put high at your camp makes it easier to find it at night. Flying flags does the same for you during day. Both make Black Rock City more festive. At the very least, pick up a solar powered lantern. Watch for batteries to go on sale.

THREE: Get your camp on. How you gonna stay cool, fool?

This is something else we’re working on this weekend. We just got a new to us 90 westy van, Baby Beluga, and we’re getting it all rigged up for BMan 09, testing the awning, figuring out shade and other keeping cool strategies. We use rolls of lightweight, thin, insulating material which we move around blocking the windows to keep out the heat and the light. We’re also going to tie dye our new hemp tent for the pop-up on our van, and maybe some flags and bandanas too.

What will you put down on the ground under your shade structure? In case you haven’t heard, it gets dusty out there. Real dusty. People say they’re afraid to go to Burning Man because of the heat; I say, be afraid of the blinding dust storms! Lots of people haul scrap carpet out there; tarps work well also but if someone spills a drink or it rains (and it can big time!) you have a sloppy mess, and it’s certainly not as nice to sit around on a tarp as it is on carpet. Or combine with a lighter, washable drop cloth. Here’s a post about how to get free tarps: Burning Man by Bike plus TARP for the Playa Bound & for the Do Lab

That’s part of what you want to do with your camp–make it enticing, a place you want to hang out in during the heat of the day, to chill, to process what you’ve experienced, a place to eat and drink and stretch your body also. Back in the day, camps used to open to the streets. It was wonderfully like a small town where people hung out on their front porches to watch the world go by.

FOUR: Figure out where you’re going to camp.

If you intend to join an established village, you need to connect with them, the sooner the better. Locations for theme camps are set and you can see who’s going to be where here: If you’re joining a group of people, it’s good to have a plan about where you’re going to be.

Here’s the link for the BLACK ROCK CITY MAP FOR 2009

This year the theme is evolution so the street names follow suit:  Esplanade, Adapt, Biology, Chaos, DNA, Extinct, Fossil, Genome, Hominid, Inherit, Jurassic, Kinship, Lineage with the Center Camp ring road going by Evolution.

FIVE: Get going on gifts. And art projects! And creative clothing!

We have some ideas in this department to encourage people to ride their bikes when they get home. We hear from a lot of people that the only time they ride their bikes is when they’re on playa. Bike riding is fun off playa too!

This the list for what we’re doing this weekend to get ready. Plus we’re going to a party at the Red Barn to check out the Time Tunnel that local Burners are producing. What are you doing to get ready?

For more preparation details from the Burning Man Organization, check out this link:

You can always tell that it’s getting to be “that time” because the Burning Man Survival Guide shows up in your mailbox. If you don’t have a ticket yet, you won’t get one. Curious what it takes to survive Burning Man? Check out the Survival Guide online: 2009 HIGHLIGHTs include:

• What to expect at the Gate
• Giving feedback on law enforcement
• Exodus etiquette – what to expect
• Lumber recycling on the playa – don’t burn good wood!
• Trash, recycling & grey water updates
• Storm emergency instructions
• Sound on Mutant Vehicles (aka Art Cars)


For more RECOMMENDED READING to prepare for your 2009 Burning Man experience (or to continue to satisfy your curiousity) go here:

If it’s YOUR FIRST TIME you should check out the First Timer’s Guide.


How do you get there, you ask?


TICKETS are still available at the $300 level here: Available through Will Call ONLY

And, unlike some years, there will be ticket sales at the gate this year.

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