Health

Meet the DOJ Lawyer Who Founded a Politically Themed Cycling Studio on H Street

At Election Cycle, all political parties are welcome.
Geller (top row, second from right) and the Election Cycle team. Photograph courtesy of Candice Geller.

At Election Cycle on H Street, cycling classes aren’t just classes—they’re “political parties.” Riders pile into “The Spin Room,” a space for working out, yes, but also a nod to the area where reporters interview candidates on the campaign trail. From the red, white, and blue logo on the door to the studio’s slogan, “Red, White, and Bike,” #thistown details abound. And while there is a mural painted with— you guessed it—red, white, and blue animal silhouettes in the entry, you won’t find a donkey or an elephant on the wall, which is exactly how the studio’s 29-year-old founder, Candice Geller, wants it.

“We’re in such a politically polarized city, and our whole thing is that when you come to Election Cycle, it’s not a thing. We call the classes political parties, but it’s more like everyone’s invited,” she says. “We may have a political name, but we’re not associated with any political party.”

Which isn’t to say the pols have stayed away. In April, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand dropped in—on ClassPass, according to Geller—a visit that went largely unnoticed by other riders. Geller says Representative Kathleen Rice has also come in for a ride. “I’d love to see both Ivanka Trump and Michelle Obama give us a try,” she adds.

A transplant from upstate New York, Geller saw a need for a studio that welcomes riders of all skill levels while carving out a welcoming environment in a city that might not always feel that way to newcomers. While working as a full-time lawyer at the Department of Justice, Geller juggled two weeks of travel each month with 5 AM start times at the studio. “Anything you could think of that could go wrong, went wrong,” she says.

Election Cycle opened the day after Donald Trump‘s inauguration in January 2017 and is the only studio devoted purely to cycling in the H Street corridor. “DC, more than a lot of other metropolitan areas, values a small business,” says Geller. “Here, they want to see the little guy do well, and that’s nice.”

A single class at Election Cycle costs $22 (versus the $34 price tag at bigger-name studios) and classes are capped at 25 riders. Making fitness accessible to everyone is important to Geller, and she offers discounts for teachers and government employees, and even has a class of fifth graders through a partnership with their school.

And what about her boss, Rod Rosenstein? Would he come in to sweat it out?

“I doubt he would,” she says, laughing. “But I’d be happy to have him come. Him or Jeff Sessions.”

Election Cycle is located at 1108 H. St., NE. The full class schedule can be found here.

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Helen joined Washingtonian in January 2018. She studied Journalism and International Relations at the University of Southern California. She recently won an Online News Award for her work on a project about the effects of the Salton Sea, California’s greatest burgeoning environmental disaster, on a Native American tribe whose ancestral lands are on its shores. Before joining the magazine, Helen worked in Memphis covering education for Chalkbeat. Her work has appeared in USA Today, The Desert Sun, Chalkbeat Tennessee, Sunset Magazine, Indiewire, and others.