need wheels? you got ’em

Some of the remaining bikes at the ranch were loaded on a flatbed and brought to BRC

Maybe you’ve picked up one of those green bikes that you see all over the playa, the kind that seem to pop up magically when you need them most. You need a bike, you find a bike,  and then you leave it for the next person who needs it.

There are about 1,000 of the bikes circulating around Black Rock City, a shared resource for the people who get around exclusively by foot and bike (and art car).  Yesterday, the crew from the Bologna Hole, the bike lovers who help you when your bike has problems, were bused out to the work ranch. Then they picked up the so-called Yellow Bikes (even though they’re green) and rode back 12 long hot miles to the playa and dropped off  bikes around the city.

“Normally I ride about 100 miles a week,” Jamie was saying at the Depot before they headed out. “So it’s going to feel really good to do this.”

They don’t take all 1,000 bikes from the ranch to the city this way, but, like so many things here, it’s a tradition to take the last ones to the city by human power. And so the crew adhered to their strict training regimen (plenty of beer and smokes), and headed out to the ranch.

The Bologna Hole crew loaded into buses at the Depot for the ride to the Ranch.

The bike program started in 2006, when there were so many bikes left behind after the event it became logical to repurpose them for the next year. And so they did. “We worked on them right out there,” Reno Travis was saying as he pointed to a field of baking sagebrush at the ranch. “We got all the leftover bits and scraps.” And that’s also how the group got its name: You make bologna out of leftover bits and scraps of meat. (There’s another connotation associated with bologna hole, of course, but we’re not going to go there today. But you can safely assume that the crew is aware of the reference, and  vigorously embraces it.)

Anyway, the crew got a big lift the next year, in 2007, when they received a donation of 1,000 bikes from a donor moved by the Green Man theme that year. They’ve kept the vast majority of those bikes in service ever since.

And yesterday was the day they finished up their prep work for the year, reconditioning the bikes and getting them ready for Burners who need them.  Need a bike, find a bike, then leave it for the next person. One of the many things that works around here.

Once they picked up their bikes, it was time to ride the 12 miles to Black Rock City


About the author: John Curley

John Curley (that's me) has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 I spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. I loved it, and I've been doing it ever since. I was a newspaper person in a previous life, and I spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle. At the time I left, in 2007, I was the deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since then, I've turned a passion for photography into a second career. I shoot for editorial, commercial and private clients. I've also taught a little bit, including two years at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and a year at San Francisco State University. I live on the San Mateo coast, just south of San Francisco in California.

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