The Last Dance may be done but The Brands never will be, which is all the explanation you need about why Peloton and ESPN released a Michael Jordan-themed ride the morning after Sunday night’s final episode. The ride featured a strong playlist of songs used in the 10-part documentary, and it'd open doors for an early-afternoon ice cream sandwhich, so I was game. Plus, truthfully: I don’t really get Michael Jordan. Like, I get MJ, but I don’t get MJ. (In my defense, growing up in Washington D.C. does not do one’s opinion of him any favors.) I understand the historical significance of everything he did, but I know a lot of very kind people here in Chicago who I’m pretty sure would get in fist fights for him without blinking an eye. Maybe this 30 minute ride would be just what I needed to better understand the MJ ethos. At the very least it’d be a decent SEO play. Here’s how it went:
Sirius - The Alan Parsons Project
I do have to say, this was great. It’s a banger. So far so good. The instructor, Alex Toussaint, is bringing a LOT of energy right off the top, and I’m fired up. He tugs at his red Jordan jersey with excitement and pride. I feel similarly about my extra large Freshman Move-In Weekend tee. Alex tells me he’s “going to kick my ass and smile while doing it,” and now it really feels like a Jordan ride.
Ruff Ryders Anthem - DMX
Alex starts this song by thanking Michael for inspiring him to find a new level of intensity. Imagine being fit enough to feel graciousness. We’re doing a few sets of sprints right now, and Alex wants me to activate my hustle. I do my best for Alex, as if it were that simple. Legs are feeling fresh though, and Alex informs me I’ve already won a ring. So that’s cool! Feels like this could be a good stopping point, no? Alex says no.
Jumpman - Drake, Future
Hey I know this song! Alex says this one is the practice before the game, and I’m officially lost in the analogy. In the midst of more yelling, it dawns on me that maybe I’m the Scott Burrell of this bike ride? Alex shouting directions – while directly quoting MJ – a few moments later clears that up for me. All in all, this still isn’t too bad. I’m not tired yet and I already have a ring! Basketball is easy.
How Ya Like Me Now - Kool Moe Dee
At this point in the ride, I’m noticing that everyone else in this class is starting to give out virtual high-fives, a perk that – and I cannot stress this enough – makes absolutely no difference. I high five back because it feels like the polite thing to do. The whole ‘be a good teammate’ thing does take away from the ride’s authenticity, though. Alex has us doing hills now, and somewhere along the way we won two more rings. I no longer have the energy to be sarcastically thrilled.
Definition - Black Star
Alex says it’s time to slow down. This is the ‘active recovery’ section of the ride, or, as he puts it with a totally straight face, the baseball section. The metaphor is too good to be true. Baseball!
That being said, more than halfway through and I still feel okay? I’m not about to drop 63 in the Garden, but I can breath.
Right Here Right Now - Fatboy Slim
I can’t breath. The Flu Game sweat arrives not a moment too soon and it’s right here, right now, when I realize how truly stupid this idea was. I’m convinced that somehow MJ could feel the patronizing tone of my first half notes and put me on his list. There’s no other possible explanation for how immediate and painful the wall I just hit was.
Lost & Found - YBN Cordae
I didn’t take any notes for this song because my brain lacked the necessary oxygen. Also my phone slipped out of my hand.
Victory - Puff Daddy, The Notorious B.I.G, Busta Rhymes
My back tightens up and starts to hurt, which is strange because this was NOT labeled as the Scottie Pippen Ride. (I’m particularly proud of this joke because I thought of it *on* the bike). Alex is just full-blown yelling at me by now and, you know, maybe Horace Grant was onto something. My thighs feel like they may rupture. Honestly at this point I hope they do. Get me off this bike.
Can I Kick It? - A Tribe Called Quest
It’s over. 30 minutes, 6 rings. People smoke cigars in this moment? On purpose? I think I hear Can I Kick It, but it’s hard to tell what’s the beat and what’s my own body gasping for air. I get off the bike with all the grace you’d expect from someone who writes about sports instead of playing them and wait for the sense of accomplishment to kick in. It doesn’t.
That happens an hour later, when a note from the Peloton app (I promise I hated writing this sentence more than you hated reading it) pops up on my phone, congratulating me on setting a new personal record during the last ride. The GROAT! I’m not sure I get MJ any more now than I did 30 minutes ago, but you can’t say he doesn’t get the best out of people.