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Bikes. Parts. Chaos.

Name: Aneka Crisostomo

Location: Manila, Philippines

Who Do You Think You Are Anyway?

Hello! I’m Aneka, a 30-something former office lady who just recently quit corporate to explore her options and build the life of her dreams.

Aneka on Surly Steamroller bike with one foot down, smiling, in front of mural

I enjoy blackwork tattoos, colorful sunsets, and all kinds of psychological crime shows. I take pleasure in doing café crawls and can consume up to 5 cups of coffee a day. I also love cheese pizza and green olives (not necessarily together), Vietnamese pho, and Japanese sashimi.

I’m interested in art and design, but haven’t really found the time to hone it, so I peg myself as a frustrated artist. I’m also a self-taught yogi that’s trying her very best to maintain her home practice.

Aneka doing standing yoga pose in park on sunny day

How’d You Get Into Bikes?

My parents are hardcore bike commuters so we were introduced to the lifestyle very early on. I remember riding around the campus where my dad used to work. The entire family just chilling on a field for a picnic, occasionally getting up for a quick spin around the buildings. That eventually evolved into weekend critical mass rides and annual bike parades that my parents supported in an effort to promote cycling as a means of sustainable active transport. That was the catalyst for my bike commuting life and I haven’t stopped since.

My entire family still rides. Even my dad who is in his early 60s, conquering mountains like nothing with my mom who’s in her late 50s. I swear they’re built of some other stuff! But that’s our thing, we do family time on bikes. I don’t think that’s ever going to change.

Aneka with mother on bike in city wearing face coverings

Tell Us About Your Surly

So here’s a funny story — I was riding up a mountain with my dad, struggling-huffing-puffing on my old track bike with him spinning and chilling on his granny gear. He was egging me on to buy a new bike with gears so I could climb easily and I had shouted back, “Dad, if I’m gonna get another bike, it’s gonna be a Surly!!!”

The Universe works in mysterious ways, though, since I now own a Surly Steamroller! That means I still have no gears, and no brakes either (Sorry, Dad). I guess that’s another box I have to tick off. I’m looking at you, Cross-Check!

Aneka outside in sun standing behind Surly Steamroller

I mainly use my Steamroller to commute. Traffic is terrible here in the city so I bike to work, to the grocery, to dinners with friends, to the bank, you get the idea. I love it because it’s built extra sturdy and can fit those comfy 38c tires! Our streets are the worst so I dominate all those potholes with this build. Steel is real. I absolutely love it.

I choose to ride fixed because it’s simpler this way. Maintenance is easier without the brake cables, gears, and derailleurs that tend to get misaligned. I’m fully dependent on my body strength and limitations so I make sure to practice safe, responsible, and defensive riding.

Black Surly Steamroller with flat bar outside in front of building

Black Surly Steamroller with cruiser bar and front basket rack leaning against wall outside

Black Surly Steamroller with cruiser bar and pink rear fender leaning against fence outside

Black Surly Steamroller with flat bar, half frame pack, and water bottle and cage, leaning against building outside

Favorite Bike-Related Memory

Aw man, I already mentioned some pretty good memories before I got to this question! I don’t have a specific favorite since the bike has been so ingrained in my everyday life, but I guess it’d be best to tell you about the moment I learned how to bike.

My dad had bought me this green kids’ bike, you know the kind with solid, kind-of-spongy wheels that don’t need inner tubes? Yeah, that one. I felt like it was too big for me when he was trying to teach me (probably because my feet couldn’t reach the ground) so I couldn’t hack it until a few years later. I finally grew into that same bike and could scoot on my own and ride down a wooden ramp with it (the dangerous things we used to do as kids, amirite?!) but still I could not pedal.

Aneka as child riding green BMX bike, dad and little brother riding behind

By this time, my little brother had just gotten his own bike. I remember it being blue with white tires and a lot smaller than mine. We were at one of our family picnics when suddenly he was riding around, pedaling! He learned how to bike before me! I couldn’t believe it. My competitive big-sibling energy kicked in and I learned how to ride that same afternoon. Who knew I just needed that kick in the arse? That same little brother grew up to be the most athletic of us siblings, conquering the streets and doing long rides before I could even imagine it.

Aneka with brother, kneeling posting for photo with bike helmets and face coverings outside, bikes behind

We once did a 125km ride as a family, passing through three mountains to visit my dad’s hometown in Infanta, Quezon. I was using my dad’s silver mountain bike with 26 inch tires (I didn’t even know this detail back then) and I cursed every hairpin turn there was on all climbs.

Did I have fun? Yes! Did I at some point think I was torturing myself? Yes!!! Would I do it again? Maybe. That ride was over a decade ago and during the peak of my athletic life. Maybe I’ll challenge it once more when I get my endurance up and my Cross-Check built (yes friends, this is called manifestation).

If You Could Ride Anywhere in the World, Where Would it Be?

I actually dream of traveling with my bike EVERYWHERE! But if I had to pick my top places it would be Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Tokyo, and Paris (in no specific order). Amsterdam and Copenhagen for their superb cycling infrastructure. Tokyo and Paris for their fixed-gear culture, scenic city sights, and of course their food.

Aneka riding one handed on city street, hand in air wearing helmet and mask

Aneka riding on city street, wearing helmet and mask, building with mural behind

Where Can People Follow Along With You?

Follow me on Instagram! My handle is @akenasc 

Editor’s Note

Surly would like to thank Aneka for sharing her story and photos with the rest of us. As we do with all of our Humanoids, we’ve compensated her for her time and effort. We’ve also made a financial donation in her name to the charitable organization of her choice: CEFASGPH, Inc. — the Cerebral Palsy Epilepsy Family Awareness Support Group PH Inc.

Aneka adds:

I’d like to sincerely thank Surly for giving me this opportunity. I chose this charitable organization because their cause is very close to my heart. I was a mother to an amazing son with cerebral palsy for 7 short years. It was my dream for him to be able to walk, run, and ride bikes like all the other kids. Unfortunately, therapy and programs for individuals like him are limited in our third-world country. Our donation will definitely help CEFASGPH, Inc. in their work of changing that reality. Thanks again and ride safe!

Thanks again, Aneka!