A bicycle ride with a purposeThe way Marty Pittman tells it, when his daughter learned that he was planning to bicycle from Hudson to Dallas, Texas, she said, “Well, Dad, if you’re going to be insane, you might as well do it for a cause.”
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
The way Marty Pittman tells it, when his daughter learned that he was planning to bicycle from Hudson to Dallas, Texas, she said, “Well, Dad, if you’re going to be insane, you might as well do it for a cause.”
Her suggestion resulted in a 1,074-mile, 11-day ride for Pittman that, to date, has raised $3,033 for research of cystic fibrosis and the care of people who have the genetic disease.
Amanda Casanova, Marty and Connie Pittman’s 25-year-old daughter, is one of approximately 30,000 people in the United States who have cystic fibrosis.
“Team Perseverance” included the Pittmans and Amanda, as well as Amanda’s husband, Pat Casanova Jr. and her younger sister, Allison Pittman.
They left from the Pittmans’ home on Packer Drive in the town of Hudson on Saturday, Aug. 8, and arrived in the Dallas suburb of Grapevine, Texas, on Tuesday, Aug. 18. Their finish line was the Grapevine Mill Mall just north of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The team covered close to 100 miles a day.
Marty, 47, pedaled the entire distance, while other family members joined him occasionally on a tandem bicycle. Pat rode about 50 miles most days on his Trek Madone bicycle.
The most grueling stretch of the journey for Marty was the two-and-a-half-day ride through Oklahoma, where the heat index sometimes topped 100 degrees and he pedaled into head winds of 20 to 30 mph.
“Those got to be some very, very long days, where you begin to question, what am I out here for?” he said. “We think we have winds and heat here sometimes, but I tell you, Oklahoma, it was something completely new to me.”
The ride was a metaphor for the challenges that cystic fibrosis sufferers face.
According to the Team Perseverance mission statement posted on its Web site (www.bike4cf.org), the hardships of the ride were nothing compared to what a person with cystic fibrosis struggles with daily.
Amanda said there was a day in Oklahoma when her father’s joints were aching and he was having trouble breathing, but he kept going because he knew that people with cystic fibrosis have days like that.
“We don’t get a day off, so he wasn’t going to take a day off,” she said.
Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive tract. Those with the disease typically require twice-daily treatments in which their chest and back are pounded to shake the mucus loose and clear their airways. Mechanical vests are now available to provide the therapy.
Sufferers also commonly take enzymes to thin the mucus and antibiotics to prevent and treat lung infections.
“I have my tough days where my joints hurt, or my lungs are really irritated. That’s hard,” Amanda said. “But in respect to everything else, I can’t complain.”
She learned that her symptoms are relatively mild when she attended a big cystic fibrosis conference and heard about other sufferers’ treatment regimens.
“I thought, man, I can’t complain, because there are others whose treatments take up much more time.”
Amanda had just donated blood to the Red Cross.
“I take it when I can give blood to somebody else, I’m doing well,” she said. “Plus, I’m not on antibiotics or anything else like that.”
Raising awareness about cystic fibrosis was part of the reason for the bicycle tour.
The Pittmans and Casanovas were encouraged by the number of people they met along the way who noticed the Web site address on the support vehicle and expressed support for their cause. Most had a family member with the disease, or a friend whose family was affected by it.
Marty Pittman has been a cycling enthusiast since his boyhood in Durand.
As a teenager, he’d go on 70-mile round-trip jaunts to Eau Claire.
“I’ve been riding since, it seems like forever,” he said.
A summer of 2008 ride from Hudson to Milwaukee is what enticed him to plan a longer trip.
He picked Dallas as a destination because the Pittmans lived there from 1998 to 2002 and still have friends there. Amanda attended high school in Texas.
After Amanda persuaded Marty to make the ride a cystic fibrosis fund-raiser, she decided she wanted to ride with him part of the way. Her cyclist husband wanted to ride, too.
Then Allison and Connie wanted in on the action.
“So it kind of cascaded from me being insane to the family sharing in the insanity,” Marty joked.
The Pittmans resided in Hudson from 1988 to 1998, and returned in 2002 after the four years in Dallas.
Marty is a technical project manager for LabVantage, a New Jersey-based company that provides laboratory data systems.
Amanda and Pat met while attending UW-River Falls. A physics-major roommate of Pat’s invited Amanda, also a physics major, to a party at their place.
Amanda and Pat met, fell in love, and were married last October.
She graduated from UW-RF in 2007, and Pat, a computer science major, in 2008.
Pat is the information technology manager for a White Bear Lake, Minn., company. The Casanovas are preparing to move into a New Richmond townhouse they have purchased.
The Pittmans are an endurance-sport family. Jake Pittman, Marty’s nephew and the son of Hudson physicians Donna Pittman and Kirk Jacobson, recently won the Pepper Festival 10K race running in his bare feet. Jake’s parents, and his grandmother, Delores Pittman, of Durand, are runners, too.
“My sister (Donna) and I joke that we don’t know what our mother did to us. Apparently, we’re trying to get a long way away from something,” Marty said with a laugh.
It’s not too late make a donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on behalf of Amanda. The Wisconsin-to-Texas ride Web site, www.bike4cf.org, contains a link to a foundation donation page.
The Web site also has a journal and many photographs from the ride.