The Purple Tutus Ride in Honor of A Pelotonia Pal
As she rode in her first Pelotonia this year, Maura Gardner could hear the voice of her father, Dan Weisenbach, who passed away in November from cancer.
“Whenever I hear the wind when I’m riding, I feel like it’s him talking to me,” Maura said, adding that Dan encourages her to keep pedaling and to live life to the fullest and without any regrets. Like Dad did.
Katrina Weisenbach, Dan’s wife, also rode in her first Pelotonia this year, and she did it on the bike her husband used to ride in Pelotonia.
“The closest I feel to Dan now is when I ride his bike,” Katrina said.
Maura and Katrina proudly wore their distinctive and very purple tutus as they rode. Perhaps you saw them, or some of the 35 other Riders of the Purple Tutu Society peloton (they’re hard to miss!) and wondered: What’s the deal with the purple tutus?
Well, the story began in 2012, when Dan and long-time friend John Robinson trained together for a cancer-fundraising ride in Las Vegas. A friendly wager was made: whoever got to their fundraising minimum last had to wear a … that’s right … purple tutu on the ride.
Dan lost the bet and, well, once you start wearing the purple tutu, it’s hard to stop.
“Dan is one of those bigger-than-life guys,” said Tim Hamburger, who trained Dan and John for their 2012 Las Vegas ride. “I only knew him four years, but I felt like I knew him my whole life. When I went to the hospital to visit him, I’d think, ‘How can I cheer him up,’ and I’d get there and he’d cheer me up and make me laugh.”
Dan rode in Pelotonia 13 and 14 and registered to ride in 2015. However, his Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma had other ideas, and he was too sick to ride. Dan was still a Pelotonia High Roller and traveled to the finish line in Gambier – in a wheelchair – to cheer on all the Riders.
Dan was determined to ride in Pelotonia 16, but passed away in November.
“For his entire life, Dan never thought of himself first,” said John, who battled leukemia when he was a teen. “It was always, what can I do for you, even after he was diagnosed with cancer.”
Dan lived life with a smile on his face and more than a little whimsy up the sleeve of his bike jersey. He was especially fond of those funny, little googly eyes, and left a trail of them wherever he went.
“I don’t know anyone who was as kind and selfless as Dan,” Tim said. “I’m certain that is why so many people loved him.”
When Dan became “really sick, he asked me for two things,” Katrina said. “He said please stay friends with my friends … and he said he’d send us messages.”
Katrina has kept up her end of the bargain, and, along with John and Tim, started the Purple Tutu Society peloton this year. They group trains, fundraises, socializes and shares memories of Dan together.
It seems that Dan has kept up his end of the bargain.
Paul Weisenbach, Dan and Katrina’s son (and a Pelotonia Rider), was recently at a gas station. He held the door open for someone and the man insisted on paying for Paul’s gas. Paul declined, the man insisted, Paul agreed. “What’s your name,” Paul said as he thanked the stranger.
“It’s Dan,” was the reply.
John was recently at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“I went over to a water fountain and saw some googly eyes on it,” he said. “It was Dan.”
Steve Wartenberg is a journalist, cyclist and longtime Pelotonia Rider. Steve is one of just a
handful who have pedalled every mile of every Pelotonia. This year he is going above and beyond his fundraising efforts as a High Roller! firstname.lastname@example.org.