Cycling and Tattooing Have Played Predominate Rolls In My Life
I started both around the same time, in the early 2000’s. My first dip into cycling was just commuting to work and heading to the bar on a 1972 Raleigh Grand Prix. It was too big for me, had way-outdated specs, but I loved it none the less. That bike gave me more freedom than any car could have. I actually looked forward to going grocery shopping knowing I was going to ride my bike to do so. Tattooing at that point in my career didn’t exactly provide me enough financially to have the latest and greatest, but it definitely made me work harder so I could save up for a new bike (even though I could barely keep my lights on at my apartment). I felt like such a bad-ass though being a tattoo artist and riding a bicycle as a mode of transportation by choice. People I knew would often stop in their cars to ask me if I had gotten a DUI and needed a ride. To the outside world, I just looked like a broke scrub in ratty punk t-shirts and chucks on an old 10 speed.
Zip forward almost two decades later and cycling and tattooing have mended themselves into a certain counterculture that investors are dying to throw their money at. Cycling is no longer a poor person’s sport and the media have glorified and grouped tattoos in the same box as foul mouth chefs and rich drunk housewives. Tour De France winner and cycling legend Sir Bradley Wiggins proudly poses for photos with his full sleeves and hand tattoos. In the grand scheme of things, it’s crazy to think how far these once back of the shelf cultures have risen.
In the beginning, I was resistant to share my passions with the public, still revolting and talking shit about the new posers like an angsty teen. I wanted to keep them quiet like a deep secret. Now as a thirty-something I encourage everyone to hop on a bike and get tattooed. Bikes and tattoos have formed juxtaposition in my life that has allowed me to travel the world, meet some awesome people, and view life through a different lens.
Feel the air kiss your skin as you ride down a big hill. Feel the endorphins rush through your chest as the first line is permanently laid into your skin. Compare the feeling of accomplishment of reaching the summit of a 6,000-foot climb in 90-degree weather and finishing a four-hour session on your rib-cage while listening to music you can’t understand the lyrics to.
I openly invite you to try, no wait… I want you to experience two major components that shaped the latter part of my formative years. Let me know where it takes you and how the ride was!
– Jake Tong Tattoo Artist / Cycling Enthusiast