Learn to ride a bicycle at Burning Man

We get a few requests about renting adult tricycles or tandems every year from people that have never had the chance to learn to ride a bike. We are not yet able to affordably deliver trikes or tandems to the Playa, but we have another solution to try: bicycle riding!

The Playa is the PERFECT place to learn and Hammer And Cyclery is the perfect camp to make it happen. The Playa is flat, soft, and wide open. Plenty of space to avoid obstacles. A riding surface that doesn't provide much resistance. The dust isn't fun to fall on, but of all the things to hit on your way down from a bicycle seat, it's not too bad. (Incidentally, no one has fallen during a lesson from me.)

And, as a bicycle camp, Hammer And Cyclery has tons of different sizes and styles to choose from for your first ride. We offer Learn-to-Ride clinics Tuesday thru Friday at noon. Here's how we do it:

Find a bike that is too small for the new rider, a bike where the rider's feet can comfortably touch the ground while the rider's butt is on the bike seat. Then we walk. Just walk. Nothing to worry about but walking. The rider is sitting on the seat while his/her feet are using the ground to move himself or herself and the bike forward. No big deal.

Sometimes this is all it takes. Two minutes of this and some people start to pick up their feet and they're off. If not, we go a little faster. It's not about trying to coast or balance or worry about anything. We were walking, now let's walk a little faster. The faster the better, but there's no hurry, no pressure. A little bit faster and the rider starts to skip or hop or trot or something where both feet end up off of the ground for a moment. More weight ends up on the seat of the bike. Balance is just something that your body does while it's waiting for the next foot to come down on the ground. Bam! That's riding a bike.

If the new rider needs more than this (and they often do), then there is all of the running along side them and holding onto the bike seat. Maybe giving them a little push as you run along side. Very quickly this turns into moral support rather than actual holding the bike from falling over.

One caveat. I recommend trying to figure out the great machine that is the bicycle before coming to Burning Man because, even if we can teach you to ride a bike, new riders are inefficient and can quickly run themselves ragged trying to get to the next art piece on a bicycle, especially when that art piece is beyond the horizon.

Hammer And Cyclery and Re-Cycle, Inc share no official affiliations with Burning Man or Black Rock City, LLC.


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(Playa address announced in July)
Open Daily 10:30am-5:30pm
Saturday Aug 29 - Monday Sept 7, 2020

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