So long Surly

Oh the ignominy.

I just gave away one of my bicycles.

To make room for my new(ish) car.

I can’t even believe I just wrote that. Me, the holier-than-thou cyclist philosopher and constant scold of autoAmerican Anarchy.

But there it is.

And at this point I can only plead extenuating circumstances.

You see, I owned a 13-year old Nissan pickup trick. For years it sat in my driveway. And it was mostly my fallback transportation. I usually cycle downtown, or to campus, or to the Starbucks of my choice where I did much of my writing. But my mother lives more than three hours away, in Brevard County, and my favorite place to camp is Anastasia State Park, in St. Augustine. Plus, at my age, cycling in, say, a cold rain is no longer the thrill it once was.

Long story short, the old pickup was starting to cost cost money for repair. And so we finally traded it in for a 2017 Honda Civic. Smaller and more fuel efficient, it reduced my carbon footprint.

But here’s the thing. The Civic turns out to be the nicest looking car I’ve ever owned. A sleek, jet like, smoke-gray model that looks like something Capt. Kirk drove to the spaceport on his way to board the Enterprise.

And our next door neighbor has an overhanging hickory tree that has for years pelted whatever happened to be parked in my driveway with hard, dent-inducing projectiles.

So I resolve to make room in my half of the garage (my wife’s Subaru owns the other side) for the Civic.

One problem, though. What to do with the five bicycles that already had squatters rights in there? Not to mention the shelves full of God-knows-what, and the decades-old refrigerator.

First we got rid of the refrigerator (bye-bye emergency backup beer). Followed by lots and lots of accumulated junk.

Hey, am I the only American guy who kept large coffee cans full of nuts, bolts, brackets, washes, hooks and whatnot – all of it just sitting there waiting to spring into action?

I don’t even remember where all that stuff came from. Maybe I inherited from whoever lived there before us.

All I can say is that, in the 30-some years we’ve lived here, I can never remember dipping into any of those cans to pull out that one essential component I needed to keep the house from falling apart.

So I got rid of all that stuff….no doubt tomorrow I’ll have to go to Lowes and buy new nuts, bolts, washers etc.

But never mind that. After getting a junk hauler to haul all the junk away, I was still left with one final dilemma.

Let’s see, the Subaru on the left. The Civic on the right. And the little alcove in the back for the bikes and the shelves.

No kidding, it took me three days of arranging, rearranging and re-rearranging to finally figure out that I had one bicycle too many for a comfortable fit.

We’ve got two road bikes, Jill’s and mine. And two urban bikes that we use for everyday trips around town.

That left my touring bike. A sweet Surly Cross Check that I bought for multi-day road trips.

Getting rid of Surly wasn’t easy. It was the first bike I ever bought brand new. That was maybe seven or eight years ago and it set me back nearly $2,000 as I recall. Tough steel frame, fat tires and a three ring drive chain it was designed for the long haul.

And we’ve had some adventures together, Surly and I.

I once cycled the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal trails, from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. on it, carrying all of the clothing and gear necessary for a six day journey. I’ll never forget the night we showed up in Harper’s Ferry, Surly and me, covered in mud after an all day trek in stormy weather.

Not to mention our journey on the Erie Canal Trail, from Buffalo to Seneca Falls, fighting headwinds much of the way.

But truth be told, I hadn’t ridden that bike much in recent years. On the odd camping trip, mostly.

It was like giving up an old friend. But the truth was, Surly’s tires were all but flat from disuse.

So I just gave Surly away to a buddy, who seemed glad to have it. And all to the good, I suppose, because it’s a shame to see a good bike go to waste – languishing away on the hooks that kept it suspended up against the wall of my garage.

Surly I hardly knew ye.

Author: floridavelocipede

A sometime journalist who used to string words together for a living before I retired to run a non-profit cycle touring organization that will henceforth go unnamed, as I have subsequently retired from that career as well. I write a bi-monthly column, theater reviews and an occasional magazine piece for my old newspaper. If I still had a business card it would read: Ron Cunningham: Trained Observer Of The Human Condition. Because like The Donald, you know, ego.

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