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The most popular free tattoo at the Visit Richmond booth during the UCI races

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Posted at 5:35 PM, Sep 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-28 17:35:43-04

RICHMOND, Va. – Cycling fans from Puerto Rico to Beijing went home with a free tattoo souvenir of their time in Richmond for the UCI Road World Championship races.

The team behind Visit Richmond approached Absolute Art tattoo – one of the city’s older shops, open since 1993 — about tattooing at the Richmond 2015FanFest, and the shop loved the idea.

A flash sheet – already drawn images for quick tattoos, generally used for walk-in visits — of Richmond and bike-themed designs was created by the shop, specifically for the Worlds.

Richmond is, after all, the third most tattooed city in America, so it was a perfect idea to offer an inked keepsake.

A flash sheet of Richmond and bike-themed designs was created by Absolute Art Tattoo artist Keith Harper specifically for the Worlds.

A flash sheet of Richmond and bike-themed designs was created by Absolute Art Tattoo artist Keith Harper specifically for the Worlds.

“We heard all kinds of comments about doing live tattoos — from ‘wow, I can’t believe you’re actually doing tattoos right here’ to ‘that’s the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen,’” said Jennifer Hendren, Vice President of Marketing at Richmond Region Tourism. “We had no negative feedback — not from those who watched nor from those who were tattooed.”

Tattoo artist Keith Harper worked Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday — over approximately 12 hours — and inked 62 tattoos, according to Hendren.

The designs were hip and sentimental Richmond associations; heart and RVA, railroad spike, bearded hipster, capital city mark, catfish, bass, heron,  donut, Flying Squirrels, kayaker, city skyline, and mustache.Then there were the bike-themed ones; the UCI logo, chain heartbeat, chain heart, an old and new bicycle design.

But the most popular design was the Richmond 2015 logo, the cyclist with stars, according to Hendren.

Then the Richmond Fan and the outline of Virginia with a capital city mark were the runners-up.

On the first day of free tattoos, people lined up to get one.

On the first day of free tattoos, people lined up to get one.

Surprisingly, given the River City’s love of donuts, only one person got the donut tattoo – on day one.

Did you miss out getting one? The rousing reception has led the organization to “definitely consider doing something like this again.”

“The only complaints we got were that we weren’t doing it all day and couldn’t accommodate the hundreds who wanted to participate,” Hendren said. “We had tattooed fans come back by later on to tell us thanks and how cool they thought our booth was.”

“It was such a great conversation starter and really allowed us to engage with booth visitors and talk about why the Richmond region is such a cool destination,” she added.

So what lucky cyclist went home with one?

“We definitely had interest from several team cyclists and even a team doctor, and many team members stopped by to watch Keith Harper work,” Hendren said. “But their schedules were very tight and the timing just didn’t work out for them, unfortunately.”

That’s ok. We trust they will never forget their time in Richmond.