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Pelotonia - Major cycling event uses a Conversational A.I. Chatbot for their multi-million dollar fundraiser


Pelotonia started as a grassroots cycling event in 2008 devoted to funding cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. From those humble beginnings, Pelotonia has grown into a multi-day, multi-distance, multi-cultural event in Columbus, Ohio.

The Pelotonia team has one overriding goal: raise money for cancer research.


Pelotonia partnered with 42Chat to build an A.I. Chatbot for their major event. In August of 2019, Pelotonia drew approximately 7,500 Riders, 3,000 Volunteers, and 3,000 Virtual Riders.


Pelotonia has a reputation for making a big impact, throwing a great event, and designing an engaging experience. The specific objectives of the bot were:

  • Augment Pelotonia’s high-level of participant satisfaction
  • Improve and increase registration
  • Facilitate fundraising
  • Offer an innovative experience that was both fun and helpful


42Chat developed Tonya, a customized chatbot deployed over SMS text and web messenger, covering 121 topics that could be asked in millions of ways. (13.2 million permutations, to be precise.) Pelotonia and the 42Chat design team created a helpful, green, avatar named “Tonya” to help personalize the A.I. Chatbot.

Tonya was equipped to provide personalized schedules to each of the 7,500 riders through integration with Pelotonia’s custom registration system. With varied start times, end times, routes, distances, repair sites, and finish line celebrations, Tonya’s ability to support this monumental task was a remarkable contribution to event efficiency. Additionally, volunteers had access to their own library with content specific to that group, all with their own unique needs.


  • 7500 Riders raised $13.5 million for cancer research including 200 new riders
  • 22,500 questions answered saving over 40 hours of staff time
  • 4500 Badges delivered via text
  • 95.9% Correct Response Rate
  • 95% Click Through Rate


In total, Pelotonia 2019 drew 7,500 riders and raised $13.5 million so far this year for cancer research, bringing the total funds raised to date by the organization to over $200 million. Tonya was embraced with enthusiasm by the Pelotonia community. Her ability to quickly answer even complicated questions quickly became indispensable. Tonya’s personality made her feel like a real team member, to the extent that the support team sometimes spoke with callers who asked to speak to Tonya specifically. The name “Tonya” was chosen not just to build an identity but also to solve a specific, somewhat quirky need—people don’t pronounce the name correctly. Pelo-Tonya helped clarify that particular confusion.

Pelotonia hired Tonya to work on a number of jobs that would increase fundraising, registration, and participant satisfaction. She could link users to the Pelotonia Shop, selling branded gear as an additional fundraising source. Virtual riders were directed to the appropriate registration page, and a push notification to riders from previous years boosted total registration. No matter where on the course a rider found themselves, they could simply text the bot and find the nearest bike repair or food station.


Tonya worked throughout 2019 and 2020 to answer questions, encourage donations, facilitate registration, and represent the brand.