Most of the “rules of the road” for all Burners are collected for you in a single, invaluable publication called the Survival Guide. You can link to a PDF copy of the most recent Guide by clicking on http://www.burningman.com/preparation/event_survival/index.html and looking for the Survival Guide link at the top of the right-hand column. Here you’ll find all the important information about such critical matters as the amount of water you’ll need to bring and the dangers of heat stroke.
But for older Burners, there’s a step or two that we are well-advised to take in preparation for our trip.
1. Burning Man can be a physically taxing event. Transportation within Black Rock City is generally limited to bikes and walking (art car rides are always possible, but rarely reliable or able to deliver you to a specific destination). Be prepared for some tough biking conditions because, even with a flat-as-a-pancake Playa, the buildup of sand can make for some pedaling distress.
It helps if you’re a regular biker with calves of steel, but if you’re just the average occasional cyclist, you might want to spend a few weeks getting in shape prior to the Burn. Even more important, if you haven’t ridden a bike in years (or ever), better get your internal gyro geared up.
Biking is the only reasonable way to cover the vast territory of Burning Man – to see plenty of the art and visit your choice of events and activities. Walking is simply too inefficient and, especially during the day, too exhausting. So be prepared and don’t let yourself cramp up because you haven’t taken a few extra hours to get in shape.
2. Plan to rest. Burning Man is a 24-hour-a-day festival and you’ll never get to everything, but you’ll miss more if you don’t take time out of your schedule to rest. Mid-day is my favorite rest time for obvious reasons: it’s too hot to do much else. My wife and I take our RV to the Burn so we can rest mid-day in air conditioning. I know how horribly un-ecological and non-camping that sounds, but it’s part of the reality of being older. We trade off some of the Burning Man experience for creature comforts that allow us to attend for the entire festival.
Judie and Alan enjoying a rare cool morning nap
There are options other than RVs for keeping cool such as insulated tents with their own swamp-cooler devices (humidity is generally single digit on the Playa, so one of those low power-consuming units might just do the job if you engineer your quarters properly.
During my first year, I tent-camped with my son, and I’ll never forget the experience. But I hardly slept at all. Between the magical deflating air mattress and the art cars circling our area, sleeping was not really an option. Fortunately, I was so enthralled with the event that I had the spirit and energy to keep going. Although I occasionally fell out during the day from pure exhaustion, I found mid-day napping nearly impossible because the heat was so efficiently captured inside our tent.
So stay cool, stay rested and get in shape to make your Burn both memorable and safe.
Please let us know your other ideas and suggestions for staying safe at Burning Man when you’re of a “certain” age.