To clip your shoes into these pedals, you’d better take that fear you’ve carried around all your life and bury it at the bottom of your heart. It will pound against your chest in a rush of adrenaline stronger than the blinking red light that lines your helmet and warns every car in town that you are on your way, that you will circle into that roundabout with death at your wheels, and that they’d better yield or someone’s getting fucked.
To clip your shoes into these pedals, you’d better keep your mouth closed and your mind open. You will have to stop every few hundred feet for a pedestrian who jolts out between cars, for a light that intermittently changes to red but only for one direction of traffic, and for a society that prefers feet on the ground over feet inside cycling shoes. You may think that the road rage of your previous life has a presence here, but your language is too foreign for their ears to comprehend, and your Americanized version of right-of-way will never fly with this set of Spaniards.
To clip your shoes into these pedals, you’d better learn how to ride the wrong way on a one-way street. Forget smooth sidewalks or bike paths–they are filled with sneakers and strollers. You will need the road at your wheels, your heels, spinning beneath those pedals in its smooth, cracked, gutter-ridden, bus-polluted, fountain-lined surrealistic view of life.
To clip your shoes into these pedals, you must recall your numbers. They will blend together like the apartment buildings, pisos, escaleras, and disappearing miles on a bike computer that has been jolted out of place from so many lockings and unlockings, so that its measurements are lost along with the trail of tears that has carried you across the sea.
To clip your shoes into these pedals, you must forget all the reasons that brought you onto this route and remember all the reasons you will ride your bicycle back home. You are not commuting. You are not joy riding. You are, with every wintry breath you pull into your lungs, the same person you were when the seedling of this cycle first sprouted in your heart.
To clip your shoes into these pedals, you must be yourself. The cyclist. The fanatic. The mother, the teacher, the lover, the poet. All of these rest along that metal incision at the bottom of your shoes, tightened with expert tools, holding you to that magical piece of machinery that is everything you are, have been, and ever will be.