Got (Pelotonia) ink?
Last year you may have noticed a line of participants outside the North Bank Park Pavilion as early as 3 pm during Opening Ceremony of Pelotonia Ride weekend. What were they waiting for? A Pelotonia tattoo. Not temporary, but permanent. Talk about being passionate! EVOLVED Body Art provided free tattoos to Pelotonia participants, starting at 3pm that day. With 10 artists, our friends at Evolved Body Art estimated that they could do 120 tattoos. Well… guess what? They did! The artists completed 120 tattoos, all variations of Pelotonia arrow designs. It. was. Awesome.
For some who got a Pelotonia tattoo that evening, it was their first, for others it was one of many, but each of them had a different story for their “why” they got inked. Here are a few of those stories.
Jason Williams is an eight-year Pelotonia rider who has been a high roller every year, except for one. He rides in Pelotonia because he lost his mom to this “awful disease and decided to do something about it.”
“Pelotonia has become such a significant part of my life. I have a hard time imagining not riding every year. Based on that, getting a tattoo only made sense. In fact, I got my first Pelotonia tattoo in December of 2015. Since I already had the first one I was immediately on board when I got the email from Pelotonia that there were going to be tattoos at the event.” To him, Pelotonia is an “experience that will change your life. Words cannot even begin to describe the extreme feeling of working towards the greater good that participating in this event will bring. And that’s why I wanted to get a tattoo.”
Melinda started participating in Pelotonia in year one, but instead of being a rider, she started as a fearless cheerleader encouraging all the riders to keep on pushing and pedaling ahead. In 2012 she made it official and signed up to be a volunteer. “I personally have family members who have survived cancer, so I wanted to do more to help.”
Last year, she heard a Pelotonia staff member talking about the tattoos, and immediately knew she wanted one. When people ask about Pelotonia, “I tell them that Pelotonia is one of the most important things I am a part of every year. You get back 1,000 times more than you give and the love and compassion you experience over the weekend will feed your soul for the year to come.” Not having a tattoo”, her friends and family always told her to make sure that if she got one that it meant something to hear. “When I’m 80 years old I will look at this tattoo and it will remind me that I did my part to end cancer. It’ll bring back amazing memories.”
Brandon is one of the lucky ones. He personally hasn’t had any family members or friends who had cancer, but has participated as both a rider and a volunteer for Pelotonia weekend. “You ride through the event and see a lot of people. You can see in their hearts that they appreciate all you are doing to help raise money for cancer research. I ride for them, and I ride for those who can’t.”
Brandon has a full sleeve of tattoos on his arm, and his legs and back are also covered with tattoos, but none of them had significant meaning, until last year. “I used to see my tattoos as collecting artwork. However, my Pelotonia tattoo reminds me each day of the times that I spent volunteering and passing out waters to the riders, as well as my experiences riding in Pelotonia. This one does mean something to me and is more than a piece of art. It’s a reminder to keep pushing and keep helping those who need it most.”
Anne Hays signed up for Pelotonia in 2010 to honor her friend who lost her foot to sarcoma. During her first ride, she made a gameday decision to increase from 50 miles to 100 miles. “I never looked back. It was the longest day of my life. The hills on a Trek 750 bike were challenging to say the least. But, I kept telling myself I have two feet. I can do this.”
She completed her ride and the next year came back to ride 180 miles. In 2011, she decided to get a small tattoo in order to commemorate the extraordinary weekend of Pelotonia and when given the opportunity to get a free one at the Pelotonia Opening Ceremony, “it was a no brainier!” As of today, she has eight Pelotonia arrow tattoos. “Every time I ride my bike I can glance down and am reminded of all the money we have raised with one goal in mind.”
This will be Jessica’s 6th year riding in Pelotonia. Her main reason for riding? Her Mother-in-law who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. “This is a way for me to give back and to be a part of thousands of people who come together for one goal. My hope is that if thousands of us continue to do this, years down the road we will have found the cure to cancer.”
Jessica had a tattoo prior to getting her Pelotonia arrow, but none of them really had any meaning to her. “I had gotten tattoos in the past because I liked the way they looked. But now when I look at this one, there is meaning. It reminds me that I was there, that I have helped, and that I can continue to fight.”
She wasn’t the only one in her family to get a tattoo that day. Her husband, her father-in-law and even her sister got one! It was a family affair, and a great way to honor her Mother-in-Law.
This wasn’t Ashley’s first tattoo, but it is her most memorable. In May of 2017 her Doctor told her that she was cancer free and riding in Pelotonia 2017 was her way to celebrate the fact that she was a cancer survivor. She didn’t go to the opening ceremony planning to come home with a tattoo. “I’m a very spur of the moment person. I decided as I was there that I would just do it and it has been a great daily reminder of why I ride, that I beat cancer, and I can beat those hills.”
Her first ride was very emotional, but very uplifting, as she saw her boyfriend and daughter standing at the finish line cheering for her. Her daughter even asked when she could ride in Pelotonia to support her, and when she could get her own Pelotonia tattoo. They are counting down the years until she’s old enough to participate (and eventually get her own tattoo). When asked if she would participate in Pelotonia in the future, her response “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
With all the great stories we have been hearing around the Pelotonia tattoos, EVOLVED Body Art wanted to make sure that more people had the ability to get their own. If you have been considering a Pelotonia tattoo, or have been inspired to get one, make sure to attend the Opening Ceremony on Friday, August 3rd. Tattoos will be on a first come, first serve basis, and the line will start forming at 3pm. Time permitting, EVOLVED will be able to do 100 – 120 free tattoos.
There are so many other stories of those who got a Pelotonia tattoo at opening cCeremony, or of those who have gotten one at a different time. Do you have a Pelotonia tattoo? We would love to hear your story and see a picture! Please email yours to firstname.lastname@example.org