Posted by: standing_baba | July 1, 2009

Sorry, Surly

Bike mechanic Julio, my accomplice

Bike mechanic Julio, my accomplice

Surly is not speaking to me. Not a word since yesterday. I told him we were going out to get an ice cream cone, then ended up at a bike shop on the outskirts of town, scraping his skin with a dull, rusty knife and painting his wounds a dirty red.

BEFORE: Surly, shiny and innocent

Surly, shiny and innocent

AFTER: I felt like an abstract artist

AFTER: I felt like an abstract artist

I was left with no other choice. Within 24-hours of pulling Surly from his box and riding down Cartagena’s history rich streets, one thing became glaringly obvious: Surly was too sexy for his own good.

Everywhere people stared at his shiny components that, with each pedal stroke, clicked a quietly confident yet uppity “look at me.” His delicate Eggshell white skin glistened in the Caribbean sun, guiding thievery-type attention to his eyelets and double-butted design. When Surly and I rolled up many would ask: “How much did that cost?” (One boy squeaked: “Mister, mister, it looks like a motorcycle”). Surly’s bling was exaggeratingly blingy in this world of humble juice vending tricycles, single-speed pushcarts, and utilitarian beach cruisers with crate box baskets.

BEFORE: Surly before realizing life is not always shiny and Chrome-plated

BEFORE: Surly before realizing life is not always shiny and Chrome-plated

AFTER: Surly, having learned the ways of the world

AFTER: Surly, having learned the ways of the world

Poor Surly, what have I done? I’m starting to wish I would have gotten my dear friend in Beef Gravy Brown.

There are few phrases that rise from the sea of my second language Spanish and completely flood out my more fluid, natural English. Swear words, for example, almost always fly from my mouth in Anglo grunts. Yesterday however, as small strips of Surly curled off the knife like orange rinds and the new paint camouflaged his better side, there was only one phrase with no direct English equivalent that could summarize my sadness: “Me duele el alma.”

AFTER: Close-up of top tube

AFTER: Close-up of top tube

Roughly, it pains my soul. I’m sorry Surly.

This hideous make-over—and Surly’s justified anger—were necessary so that we both finish this trip together. No regrets. Onward ugly duckling!

If you’d like to fuglify your bike, check out this tutorial for step-by-step instructions. When doing an overseas bike tour I recommend you complete these steps before arriving to your destination while supplies are still readily available.


  1. Surly was a beatiful girl .. how shame you have to give her an ugly style :'(…

    • Surly is NOT a girl. He is macho in ways Latins can only dream of. He bangs his chest in the shower—which is once every two weeks—, lets tomato sauce flung from slurped up spaghetti hang on his face, and takes girls on first dates to hardware stores. Yeah, because he can. Surly is definitely not of the female species. Shame, shame on you!

  2. I was wondering about this. Look at it as an insurance policy that cost you $40 a year. A little brake cleaner, a sand blast and a fresh powder coat when you get back and all is well. Total cost to restore = $80 and some elbow grease. Have a blast!

    • Exactly. Now people are commenting on how ugly Surly is. Mission accomplished.

  3. Nice work, but i think that soft, untarnished spring-loaded luxury of a seat might give you away. Maybe add a tear or two to the side? I’m sure Surly will forgive you, just explain to him that its sort or an ‘undercover mission’.

    Good luck on your 1st ride!

    • Let’s not get carried away now. Besides, with each passing day the seat is more and more beat up….

  4. I knew it had to come to this. I’m sure it was hard, but you are so correct. You need to protect your road gang. Your bike was so pretty, Surly still is under all that camouflage.

    Good luck on your first day!! I know you have been waiting for this for months. Travel safe.

  5. Oh No!!!! I’m in shock!!! how could you do that to Surly??? it would have been better if you throw it a bit of mud, but painting it with that colour!!!??? pareciera que lo hubieras pintado con pintura de uñas! :S
    Poor surly, my thoughts are with him now…
    Bueno, de todas maneras todo sea porque el viaje sea un poco mas seguro.


    • Pintura de uñas! Por que no pensé en eso!?!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: