Photo Essay



These are portraits I took of several of this years Awesomefest athletes.

Awesomefest is a triathlon that is meant to provide an arena for the type of athlete that is typically overlooked. This type of athlete has the ability to stare down 12 hours of film without flinching. This athlete can put their body under a needle for an hour and laugh as it tickles away their flesh's innocence. This urban warrior can also navigate through a major city's streets solely on their own leg strength and a dash of bike grease. However, Awesomefest is as inclusive as it is exclusive. Not just anyone could phyiscally accomplish all three of these events but everyone that does is in it together with no medals for first place. Their only physical reward is an inky permanent reminder of their feat.

A brief History:

Almost two years ago I was having a conversation with my friend Jay. We were excitedly discussing our upcoming two day, round trip bike ride from London, Ohio to Cincinnati with a few friends. We were starting to get a little worried about being able to complete such a log ride as neither of us had ever done such a trip before. We knew we would have to condition our bodies to be able to complete the 160 round trip miles and our trip was only one month away. I calculated that if we could ride from Westerville to downtown and back, twice in one day that we should be physically capable of completing at least the first leg of our upcoming trip to Cincy. I then told him I would do it. After all, I didn't want to find myself collapsing from heat exhaustion 3 miles south of Yellow Springs. He told me he was also game.

After we finalized our day of conditioning, our next topic of conversation, as it quite often was, was Lord of the Rings. We both love the films and we were talking about how incredibly awesome they are and how we had yet to watch all three extended cuts from back to back. After a second a light went off in our heads. We could combine these activities into one awesome day and even add a third, equally awesome event to create a triathlon of awesome!

We then tried to think of what could be the third sport in this triathlon. It needed to be challenging but in a different way than the 50 miles of biking and 11 straight hours of movies were. Our obvious choice and first thought was to add getting a tattoo. However, we didn't have the money to do this. We couldn't come up with anything equally as awesome and challenging as getting a tattoo, so, technically we didn't end up having a full triathlon that year.

This year I started four months early and brought on a couple friends to help me plan. I wanted it to be a public event. We decided that the Rocky movie franchise would the this years theme. The six films clocked in at just about 11 hours which fit our criteria as being an act of endurance. I also got a website up and began looking for sponsors and a venue and a tattoo artist. The tattoo artist jumped behind the event whole heartedly and came up with three brilliant designs for the riders to choose from. They all incorporated the themes of Rocky, Columbus and cycling. The event quickly began to take shape and two newspaper interviews later we had wrapped planning and had attached our event with Thirst Relief International (who would be receiving all profits from the event to manufacture water filters in third world countries).

We had almost twenty riders, fifteen of which were to receive a tattoo. We rode at dawn. Despite a couple close calls with cars everything went great. We even added a few rounds of bike derby between films for the fixed gear riders. In honor of Rocky being this years movie theme, we had film related trivia complete with prizes. After completing the sixth Rocky film at around 10 p.m. (which we had manually powered with a bike-powered generator by the Awesomefest cyclists in a grand finale) there still remained four more of us to be tattooed. I was the last to leave at 4:30 a.m. The tattoo artist logged in 15 tattoos for a total time of 17 hours! I rode home exhausted, bloody and very, very happy.

The Future:

Due to the success of the first official year we have already begun planning next year. We plan on featuring the five Jaws films. As each years tattoo is meant to reflect that current years theme, next years will inevitably involve waves, an open shark mouth and some bike gears. I also received an email from an enthusiastic fan in Prague who wants to start Awesomefest in the Czech Republic! I am excited to see how this event will grow. Everyone who hears about the event responds appropriately by exclaiming "Awesome!" to which I always reply, "exactly".

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3 responses

  • Keegan Brooks

    Keegan Brooks said (29 Sep 2008):

    I love this! I would totally do this but maybe not the tattoo

  • Sean-Michael Gettys

    Sean-Michael Gettys said (14 Oct 2009):

    voted yes for the awesomeness! I would totally do this if I was capable of riding a bike anymore LOL

  • Frank Summers

    Frank Summers gave props (16 Jun 2010):


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