On December 29, 2021, Lisa Merves and her husband went out for dinner to celebrate her husband’s birthday. Over wine and tapas, the couple explained how excited they were to finally settle down after moving from Colorado to Dallas, to Washington DC, and finally back to Colorado, finally landing in Louisville.
“It was the first time we talked about not moving after so many years of these big giant moves,” Merves said. “I guess Mother Nature had other plans for us.”
The next day, Merves would lose almost everything—his home, his belongings, his neighborhood, and, to boot, his workplace—in the Marshall fire.
Merves is the lead instructor at CycleBar Louisville, which, although not burnt to ashes, still suffered extensive smoke damage from the fire.
To allow classes to continue safely during the pandemic, the cycling studio had installed a state-of-the-art air filtration system. While ideal for filtering out virus particles and microbes, the system was overwhelmed when the air outside the studio on Dec. 30 became saturated with ash and soot.
“Sometimes you plan one thing in life — like COVID — and instead you get another thing — like a wildfire,” Merves joked.
After more than two months of cleaning and sanitizing, the studio reopened to the public on Saturday. Merves, who was the only instructor to lose her home in the Marshall fire, led a special 60-minute class, building on the strength and resilience of the Louisville community.
Every bike in the room was filled.
“It was amazing to be back, for so many reasons,” Merves said. “It was truly a celebration of the strength that we are able to create together as a community. It was sweat, miles, healing and hugs. I feel so, so supported.
CycleBar hopes to extend this support to others whose lives have been turned upside down by the fire. The studio is offering free and discounted memberships to Marshall Fire victims and has also set up a scholarship fund that will allow anyone affected by the fires to ride for free.
Additionally, individuals not affected by a fire who wish to purchase a new membership at the Louisville location will then have the option of gifting a membership to a fire victim at no additional cost.
CycleBar Louisville owners Dale and Laurette Binke are happy to provide these resources for anyone who may be struggling.
“We are thrilled to bring our amazing community together during tough times like these to celebrate the strength to ride and rise as one. The studio looks forward to welcoming back familiar faces as well as new guests looking for a place to ride, recuperate and prepare for the road ahead,” the owners said in a press release.
Merves said reopening the studio allows her to process all that has happened to her and her family, and she hopes to share this space with other fire victims who may also be struggling.
“CycleBar gives me and so many others a physical place to move, but it’s also a mental place to escape to if you need to. It’s nice to have that space again where I mentally check for 45 minutes and focus on something unrelated to the fire,” Merves said.
CycleBar Louisville is located at 459 McCaslin Blvd., Suite 6. For more information on reopening events and upcoming charity rides, visit cyclebar.com/location/louisville.