Black Rock Bicycle Commute 2010

I'm planning to bike from SF to Black Rock City this year. I'll leave August 23rd, bike approximately seventy miles a day, and arrive August 30th, with one and a half days of wiggle room for mechanical problems and random fun. Total mileage: 380-420 miles, depending on route. There will be hot weather, ice cream cones, beautiful views, tall mountains, swimming in rivers, about seventy miles of gravel road riding across the Smoke Creek Playa, a ghost ranch, a hot spring, and maybe some moonlight riding. In short, it will be awesome.

I did this one before in 2007, and I enjoyed the ride so much the event almost paled in comparison. This year I want to share the joy and lead others on a similar ride. If you're into cycle touring, live in the Bay Area, and are going to Burning Man, you should join me!

I'll be posting a journal from my previous trip over the next week or so.

Below is a map of three candidate routes we may take.


How many miles per day?

About seventy.

How many people?

I am looking for a maximum of four people besides myself.

What sort of support will there be on this ride?

This is a totally unsupported ride. You get to haul all your own gear and tools, and preferably the knowledge to fix your bike, though I'll be able to lend a hand with minor disasters.

What if I'm too slow?

We won't leave anyone behind, ever. If you have an injury or major mechanical failure we will wait with you until alternate transportation arrives, unless we are in a city and you have a happy, comfortable place to wait.

That said, please do make sure you can do the planned mileage - it would be a bummer to miss the event!

How will we get back?

Hitch a ride? I'm organizing the trip from SF to Black Rock City, but after that you will have to make your own arrangements.

My personal current plan is to leave the playa Friday, bike to Reno, and take Amtrak home.

Won't my bike get messed up by playa dust?

Maybe. Last time I did this, I rode my bike on the playa all week. I cleaned it thoroughly upon returning home. It's functioning fine three years later. That said, it's an aluminum townie hybrid covered in stickers, not a featherlight carbon fiber masterwork. If you want to do the commute on a more beautiful bike, I would recommend having a friend haul up a beater for you so you can stash the beauty in a van.

What about water?

We'll be able to fill up on water along the way, but plan on carrying about two liters of water most days, and two gallons of water for the Susanville->Gerlach stretch.

For water on the playa, I plan to fill up about 15 gallons in flexible jugs at Gerlach. This year the city of Gerlach will be selling drinking water for Burning Man: Note that the water will weigh 120 pounds and this is a very silly thing to do. If you are not a silly person, you will probably ask the same friend who is hauling a beater bike to also bring you enough water for your stint on the playa.

Where will we stay?

We'll camp along the way as appropriate, on public lands or at paid campgrounds. At the discretion of the group there could be a hotel stay in Susanville to get a shower in before the desert.

What kind of gear should I bring?

Tent, sleeping bag, bowl, spoon, food, sleeping pad, patch kit, pump, bike multitool, first aid kit, sunscreen. Also any gear or costumes that you'll want right away at Burning Man, in case you have trouble finding your friends.

I'll be hauling my gear in a BOB trailer. A full set of panniers or whatever other gear haulage you like should work fine. Also, I have a camp stove and pot that I'm happy to share.

Will this be awesome?


I'm in!

Not a question. But you should email brbc at with an intro. Looking forward to riding with you!

Other links

History of Smoke Creek Desert Ivan Cockrum's 2007 bike ride to the burn Barrett Russell's 2007 ride, "The Easy Magic Machine Project"