I have been putting a lot of thought into getting a couple tattoos but I do not want to be off the bike for more than a day or two right after getting inked. I googled this and found very mixed opinions, but most have said after a day or two they rode or they waited until winter and still rode on the trainer to avoid sun exposure. A few posts however said to take several weeks off (not gonna happen!) I thought I would ask here to get some first hand experience/opinions myself. TIA!
We haven't met, but for a whole lot of reasons, it's a great idea if you merely skip the tattoos entirely. That's heartfelt, sincere, good-faith advice based on some expertise I can't go in to here.
Alternatively, mark your calendar about 4 years out, with an entry of "wow, I should have listened to that Chainlink guy who said I should have skipped the tattoo thing entirely."
The fact that here is your rational hesitation has nothing to do with cycling and these pages, but more to do with ultimately being, well, rational. That's the universe reminding everyone what a bad idea it is to get a tattoo.
For everyone else,, there's a whole lot of BS we can find if we want to go down the alternate Milwaukee Ave/Fake News StreetSmog universe rabbit hole instead rejoining reality. Consider:
Or, Mayo and everybody else is wrong and we should get tattoos and ride the CDOT bike lane Milwaukee Ave. truck route.
The question really is for us (and frankly our heirs) is whether or not we ultimately know better on a variety of matters.
This is an...amazing reply to the OP's question.
Here's a live example. In 2016, I flew out to Kona, then did an Adventure Cycling tour around the Big Island for two weeks. We went a few days early to settle. We also got a tattoo before starting the tour. So...against the advice of the tattoo artist, it was exposed to sunlight and I swam in the ocean(without getting a staph infection.) YMMV, but I think after six years this little pineapple still looks pretty good for being 1.5". It's on the outside of my right arm, just before my elbow. I kept it juiced up with some tattoo stuff that was available for purchase at the shop, it was wrapped with plastic for about three or four days.
Some may say don't do it. Some may say it's not worth it. Some may say tattoos aren't for them. My opinion is, just have fun, don't worry about it too much. You can't prevent everything, you should enjoy things while you can!
My body reacted a little differently to my first tattoo when compared to the second, third, etc. The first one can be a little messy, especially if it's a large piece. If you're planning on getting a couple tattoos I recommend not getting them all in one seating for this reason.
It may be unexpected, but you'll have to worry more about getting your kit stained with ink, then worrying about pain. You can easily ride the next day, just keep it bandaged and follow the care instructions they provide you. The absolute best covering in my opinion is tegaderm, especially for a cyclist, because it moves and protects like a second skin. Many tattoo artists use this for aftercare and it makes the whole healing process 100% carefree.
If they don't do tegaderm they usually wrap it in an absorbent bandage to allow it to "weep" overnight, then in the morning you chuck that covering into the trash and switch to something like Aquaphor. Having ointment on your skin, keeping it there, and keeping this out of the sun is the difficult part. This is the point where I would cover it with tegaderm anyway, and get back on the bike. If out in the sun, add something over the tegaderm. They make tube shaped bandages for arms and legs that work good for this. You could also fold up a lightweight arm/leg warmer.
A second benefit of cycling soon after getting tatted, in my experience, is sweating a lot speeds up the healing process by a noticeable amount.
After that first one, I noticed "weeping" was next to nothing and healing started almost immediately.