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A Peek at Peter Stetina

September 7, 2011

He stood with his pale back to me as he balanced a black Cervelo bike with the number 32 against the front of a Subaru; he hadn’t pulled the bib portion of his bike shorts over his shoulders yet. Was it OK to ask a half-naked pro-cyclist a few questions? His nakedness drew an invisible circle of privacy around him that held my voice hostage. And yet if not now, when? Who knew how long it would be until he was fully dressed? The sun already burned white-hot at 10 am, an hour before stage 2 of the Tour of Utah would begin.

Peter Stetina before stage 2 of 2011 Tour of Utah (Mary Topping)

So I gave it a go. “Peter?” I asked. Peter Stetina of Team Garmin-Cervelo turned his head and upper body toward me and away from the team car.

“Yes?” he asked.

I explained I was affiliated with the Golden LOC and its racing website, procyclinggolden.com. We want to put up on our website profiles of pro-cyclists who were born in Colorado and plan to race in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (UPCC).  I’d like to ask a few questions. “But is this an OK time?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said, “now’s fine.” He pulled the mesh suspenders up. The movement of his hands drew attention to several brightly colored squares, each the size of a nickel, tattooed near the top of the right side of his ribcage. I pointed to them, a reflex reaction; I didn’t stop and think he might prefer that his tattoo remain a secret. “What are those?” I asked, as I leaned closer to see them better.

He looked down at them then back up at me and replied, with either a twinge of amusement or sheepishness — I couldn‘t tell which, “Oh, they are Tibetan prayer flags.”

Tibetan Prayer Flags (from http://www.fourgates.com)

I’ve seen quite a few tattoos. Most are predominantly monochromatic blue; I don’t find them very visually appealing. But this one was three or four red, green, and yellow squares with wavy edges and black symbols written in them; they appeared to be lifting off his skin in a breeze. I dove into my first question about what the upcoming UPCC means to him given the Coors Classic wins in his family, wondering why he chose to place the tattoo exactly there.

Yes, I wanted to know about his objectives for the UPCC, but I really wanted to learn more about the tattoo: why did he get it, what does it mean to him, is he still happy it’s there?

[Here is a link to what I heard from Peter regarding the UPCC and more.]

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