This week I interviewed Staff Solution Architect, Marty Pittman, and we talked about his favorite thing to do, cycling! He shared how this hobby has not only kept his family close, but also supports an amazing cause.

MS: I hear you are part of a bike team called Team Chain Rattle. How did you guys come up with that name?  

MP: We’ve been riding bikes way before index shifting existed and if you didn’t position the levers in the right place back then, you heard the chain rattling against the gears. The name reflects the age of some of us, even though the team has gotten much younger in the last couple of years. Last year, was the first year we had someone in each decade. We had a teenager, someone in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and, of course, me!

MS: On your team’s website, I saw that your wife and daughters were part of the team. Is this a family affair?

MP: Yes, my wife rides, both of my kids ride, one of my son-in-laws, my cousins, their spouses, and a couple of my nephews and nieces. It’s very much family… has always been. Although we’ve had some non-family members ride with us, the insanity usually remains in the family.

MS: The thing I like most about your team is that it supports raising a cure for Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Tell me what encouraged you to help this specific cause?

MP: My oldest daughter Amanda, who is on the team, has cystic fibrosis. I’ve been riding bikes for a long time, and five years ago in August 2009, when I decided I was going to do my first totally insane tour and ride from Hudson, Wisconsin to Dallas, Texas, my daughter said if you’re going to be insane, be insane for a cause! The route was about 1100 miles this meant riding about 100 miles a day.

So, my daughters, wife and son-in-law went through the work of getting everything set up with the CF foundation, did all the fund-raising, and made sure our family and friends knew there was an actual purpose besides me just being crazy. It’s funny because during this first trip, they announced the SQL*LIMS acquisition by LABVANTAGE. I was actually standing in a cornfield on my cell phone when I got the news.

MS: Do you guys do a tour every year?

MP: Yes, for the past four years we’ve been doing it every August, between all of the family things and before school starts. This year, the Mammoth Tour will be the last week of July. We moved it up a week because we have a family reunion in Kentucky and I’m not going to travel across the country if I can’t do some bike riding in the process! I figured if we have to go to Kentucky, we’re all going to ride to Kentucky. That will be 500 miles in 5 days, which means we’ll be spending about 6 hours on the bike each day.

MS: How often does your team get together to ride?

MP: We try to ride as a team at least every other week. Sometimes it gets to be once a month because somebody has to miss, but we try to ride together regularly. When you’re riding on the roads and you’re very close together, you really have to get to know what everybody else is going to do and what their behaviors are.

MS: Do you go in a line? Who’s the leader?

MP: Yes, we do. We all rotate so each person will spend 20-30 minutes in the front and then cycle to the back. Then, the person who was second takes the lead. We’ve ridden a lot together so we notice when the person in the front starts to get tired and we tell them to get to the back. That’s how we keep going.

MS: Do you stop at all during your rides?

MP: We normally stop every 2 hours to fill up our water bottles and to grab some food. We bought a Ford Edge and a trailer so we can put our bikes there, that’s our SAG wagon. It carries all our gear with us.

MS: Does everyone ride their own bike or do you guys ride in pairs?

MP: My wife and daughters don’t ride their own bicycles. I take my single bike, but I also take the tandem so they can take turns riding with me. They normally only ride 20 to 40 miles a day so whoever wants to ride jumps behind me. Then when they get tired, they drive the SAG wagon.

MS: Is it easy for two people to ride one bike?

MP: We love it! After a while, you get used to it. The person in the front is called the captain and the one in the back is called a stoker. They told me the toughest thing for stokers is that they have to give up full control of everything and just not care. They have to pedal, but can’t worry about what’s in front of them. They have to trust me a lot because they have no brakes and no steering!

MS: I heard you guys have nicknames for each other during your bike rides, is yours Sting?

MP: Yeah, I had other nicknames prior to that, but this year since I let my hair go back to white… I somehow picked up the nickname Sting on the bike ride. When you are on the bike for that long and you’re just looking at the back of the person in front of you, you start doing things just to have fun in the process! Last year, we also came up with our own language for cars coming in front of us and back of us just to have something different to keep us entertained.

MS: Is it easy for you guys to hear each other or do you use hand signals?

MP: Whoever sees something first will yell it out and the person either in the front or in the back will repeat the call. Once you get more than a couple of bikes apart, it’s really hard to hear sometimes and especially on some of the busier roads. We always use hand signals for turns so other traffic knows where we are headed.

MS: Well, thanks for sharing this with us! It’s amazing what you guys are doing. Can I join your team?

MP: Yes, of course! You know… we do it to raise awareness, donate some money to the CF community, and make some lasting memories along the way.

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