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“Renee, have you ever been to SoulCycle?” my daughter-in-law asked innocently.
No, I hadn’t, but when the family gets together, I’ve learned to be flexible. That’s why at 7:30 one recent morning in Chicago, I trudged to a “Breakfast with Beyoncé” class with two daughters-in-law and my daughter. Wearing Lululemon duds borrowed from the girls, I was fitted with cycling shoes that locked into the pedals.
Wow, these look a lot like bowling shoes. (I quickly learned nothing could be farther from the truth.) A fresh, white towel was folded over the handle bars, with a tiny rack beneath it for a water bottle. The lighting was subdued and I was in the back row.  So far, so good.
A pleasant young man with a microphone praised everyone for coming to class and amped up Beyoncé’s “Halo” to a decibel level clearly designed to induce deafness. I spotted an employee wearing a SoulCycle T-shirt, who was prowling the periphery of the room. I waved frantically.
“Did I see a jar of earplugs at the front desk,” I shouted. She said something (God knows I couldn’t hear her) and returned with two yellow cushions in her hand. I inserted them immediately.
That’s when I heard the man giving instructions: Sway to the left. Sway to the right. Tap once. Tap twice. The bodies in the rows ahead of me bobbed up and down like pop tarts in a toaster. I did not, fearing that I might lose my balance and land on the floor while my feet – which were prisoners of the pedals – would continue spinning. I refused to end the family visit with a trip to the ER.
Periodically, my daughter would look over at me and yell, “Are you okay, Mom?”
“Yes,” I bellowed back, wiping sweat from my face and neck. When my towel accidently slipped to the floor, I stared at it. If I bend over to pick that up, I’ll probably land beside it.
Mercifully, the hour ended and I managed to snap my right shoe out of the bike pedal. The left one refused to budge, so I simply removed my foot. The bike shoe continued to cycle, reminding me of those boots in the stirrups of a rider-less horse at military funerals. At least I didn’t die.
We limped back to my daughter’s house (okay, I limped and the girls sauntered) in time for breakfast. My sit bones were sore, but my smile was wide. Guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.



Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers.