Scene: A SoulCycle Studio
A dark room, but for a reddish glow that doesn’t seem to be coming from any bulb, but is rather sifting up through the floor. It looks a little like fire and brimstone, I think. That’s ironic, I think.
The music is loud and seemingly lyric-less; the effect is a great pulsing that thumps in my ribcage.
Riders saunter in, begin to raise and lower their bike seats expertly. They are sleek in Lycra leggings and sports bras. They mount their bikes and pedal rapidly, pause to adjust, pedal rapidly. Satisfied, they lean back to survey the room. Nary a bead of sweat darkens their foreheads.
I am clipped to the pedals, my friend isn’t here yet, and I think:
I’m going to die in this Dante-esque room amongst strangers, and I won’t even be able to run like a coward because my shoes are stuck.
Spoiler: I Don’t Die
I sweat more than I’ve ever sweated in my life. In fact, I wish I could twist my waist and wring myself out. But it is a good ride. The music has lyrics once we get going, and the instructor tells us over and over that we’re all a team, we’re all just on a bike ride together, and that we’ll be different when we leave than we were when we came in.
I believe her, and I am, a little bit. I feel strong and wobbly and tired, but more than that,
I can still feel the bruised imprint of the bike seat on my butt.