Monday, August 13, 2007


Welcome to my blog, Bike to the Burn! The topic: a 700 mile bike ride that will take me over mountains and through deserts, to Burning Man, the annual week long festival in northern Nevada. People who hear what I'm planning almost all react strongly and almost all fall into one of two camps: "that's amazing!" or "that's crazy!"

This is not my first trip to Burning Man, though it'll the first time I've bicycled there. I've gone four years out of the last five, and happily identity as "a burner." Other burners often congratulate me on the positive environmental benefits of my trip. You see, the theme of Burning Man in 2007 is "the Green Man," with all sorts of talk of "greening the burn": environmental awareness, sustainability, carbon offsets, and what have you. But, the truth is, I planned my trip without any thought of saving the environment.

In 2006, I caravaned to Burning Man with my friend Zobeewa. I drove my tiger Saab; he drove his red double decker London commuter bus. As you might imagine, these buses are designed for flat city streets, and not at all for high mountain passes, and so Zobeewa was lucky to coax 15mph out of the beast going uphill. As his wingman, it was my job to guarantee enough space for him to change lanes when needed. And so, I drove behind him all the way from Seattle to Nevada, gritting my teeth as we inched up the mountain passes. "Why," I thought, "I could ride my bicycle up this hill faster than this!"

It was a funny thought, and it stuck. By the end of the week it was already cemented. On the drive home, I decided to go through with it. I soon started talking about it, and once my mouth was open, I was committed. I used the trip as an excuse to invest in a recumbent touring bike. I'd always wanted one, but the entry price point is quite high. I did some training, then slacked off. I bought a bunch of gear, and even used some of it. Finally, the weekend before my trip, I mapped out my route (thanks, Google!).

Now it is the eve of my departure (already a day late), and I thought I should share the story of "Why?" So, you may congratulate me on my eco-friendliness if you like, only bear in mind the real reason why I'm doing this...

I thought it would be funny.

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The Fearsome Bikebego

Here loaded up in all its glory.

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All this, on my bike, right now.

A comprehensive packing list for biking to Burning Man


Clothes | Helmet, jacket, 2 pairs shorts, 2 shirts, 4 pairs socks, cleated shoes

Technology | iPhone, solar charger for iPhone

Sleeping | Tent, footprint, inflatable mattress, sleeping bag, pillow

Gear | Multitool, lube, patch kit, tire levers, C02 pump, pocket knife, sharpie, lights, pressure gauge, 4 spare tubes, 2 spare tires, cable lock, 2 keys, hand pump, sunglasses

Reading | Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, 12 copies of The Peterman Plan, maps

Food | 20 Clif bars, 3 dozen Emergen-C, 10 Java Juice, 10 Clif Shots, protein powder, backpacker's chocolate, 5 gallon water cube, 1 litre water bottle

Toiletries | EpiPen (in case of bee attack), sun block, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, hand soap, legal pain killers, illegal painkillers, razors, lip balm, hairbrush, towel

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