Tim Gittings Makes Getting to Work as Easy as Riding a Bike

Posted January 16, 2019

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Core Company Actor Tim Gittings recently took part in Trek Bike's Certified Service School. Find out about his experience with Trek and how he came to manage the APT Bike Fleet. 

"I take care of them. Folks rent them and ride!" - Tim Gittings

APT: Can you tell us a bit about our bike garage? How did it start? Why is it essential to APT? Where did we get the bikes? How many bikes do we have? Who uses the bikes? 

TIM: The APT Bike Fleet came about over the course of a few years, largely through the incredible generosity of our APT doctor (and former board member), Dr. T (aka – Mark Timmerman). Dr. T had donated some Trek bikes to the theater at one point, and they were in the storage space when I found out about them. I’d worked in a bike shop for a while, and often commuted to work that way myself, so I fixed them up a bit and got them back into service. We soon discovered that there was a real interest in cycling among our staff, but the vast majority of us were coming from far away to work here and either weren’t able to bring a bike with us or didn’t own one. I told Dr. T about the interest, he donated more bikes, that created more riders, which created more interest, and now we’ve got a fleet of almost 30 bicycles! Staff members from multiple departments rent the bikes each season for a small fee that covers parts and maintenance. Not only does the program allow more people the chance to ride to work and enjoy the beautiful roads around here, but it also helps to create more confident, knowledgeable riders.  There are a lot of folks that haven’t had a bike since their old childhood or college bike rusted-out, and this program gives them the chance to ride a well-made, well-maintained bicycle, to learn about bicycle maintenance, and to build confidence riding on the roads. We even have a bike information packet I give out to new riders!

APT: How does the APT employee bike program work?

TIM: Dr. T donates the bikes. I take care of them. Folks rent them and ride! It’s a little more complex than that, but not by much. I try to get all my riders actively involved in their own routine maintenance. I do tune-ups every spring and cleaning and minor repairs every fall. The only hard part about that is using an unheated garage – it’s definitely a seasonal affair. 

APT: How or why did you take on the bike garage responsibilities? 

TIM: It just kind of happened. The bikes were there, they needed some work to make them rideable, I knew how to do some of that work (and I knew who to ask for anything I didn’t know – shout out to Jon and Lauren {aka Biscuit} at Turin Bicycle in Chicago!!!), people liked riding so I just kept doing it! 

APT: So, what was the class that you took with Trek and how did you hear about it?

TIM: APT Patron and Trek VP of Human Resources, Mark Joslyn, heard about the APT Bike Program from Dr. T and liked what he heard. He asked what he could do to help, and this class seemed like the perfect opportunity. The class is part of Trek’s Certified Service School (“Trek’s School of Certified Service teaches best-in-class repair standards while emphasizing how to grow an individual’s workload and abilities. This unique course establishes a clear lineage to a career path and long-term employment in the cycling service industry while stressing the importance of proficiency, professionalism, and customer experience.” https://www.trekbikes.com/us/e... ). The particular class I took was the Repair Technician course. It was a full week of intense instruction at the Trek Service Center at the HQ in Waterloo. 

APT: What did you learn in the class and how is it beneficial to what you do here at APT? 

TIM: What DIDN’T I learn! We looked at every part of the bicycle, from the frame up. The technology of bikes has changed a huge amount in the past 20 years, and there is a lot more you have to understand in order to work safely on all the different bikes and components you might come across. For instance, Dr. T donated some amazing new bikes this year that utilize hydraulic disc brakes instead of the caliper, cantilever, or V-brakes that most of us are used to seeing. These brakes perform better in bad weather, and this is the direction the industry is going. They are also significantly more difficult to work on. This course taught me how to work on the different varieties of hydraulic disc brakes (among MANY other things), giving me a much broader skill-set to bring to my work safely maintaining these bicycles. 

APT: What is your favorite lyric from the Queen song “Bicycle Race?” 

TIM: “Fat bottomed girls they'll be riding today
So look out for those beauties oh yeah”

Before you say anything, “Fat Bottomed Girls” (the B side to the original single of “Bicycle Race”, btw) is the song that the Windy City Rollers (Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby) would always skate on to the track with for introductions before a bout, and as such it holds a special place in my heart (my wife was a referee for WCR while we lived in Chicago; I was just a face-painting super fan). Also, if we’re being honest, the rest of the song “Bicycle Race” is either, “I want to ride my bicycle,” or some questionable Star Wars shade. 

APT: Anything else you’d like to add? 

TIM: I can’t say enough about how grateful I am to Dr. T, Mark Joslyn, and the folks at Trek for their generosity and support. They are all committed to creating smart, safe, joyful cyclists and I think the investment they’ve shown in our APT Bike Program is wonderful and worthy of praise. I’d also like to say a special Thank You to Dr. Timmerman for his ongoing support, both with the extremely generous donations that created the APT bike fleet and help it to grow and by his continual involvement with the larger mission of helping people to discover the joy of cycling.