"This is My Downtime" - Brook Mooney

"This is My Downtime" - Brook Mooney

Brook Mooney started pedaling when he was five years old. Immediately drawn to the freedom and independence that biking gave him, he caught the bug for biking early and has held on to it for over 35 years. While his interest in biking started at an early age, it wasn’t until he was about 17 years old that the hobby started to grow into a true passion.

Brook explains, “I was getting ready to head off into the Marine Corp and my parents offered to buy me a car. But I wanted to travel the world and a car didn’t seem like a useful choice—so I asked for a GT Zaskar mountain bike instead.”

That summer, Brook started training for boot camp. He trained by completing a daily 40-mile ride that took him from the Colorado mountain town of Glenwood Springs to the top of the Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort—for about a 4,000 foot elevation gain.

“I trained all summer and I took that bike with me to the Marine Corp. In fact, I took that bike all over the world and rode it through so many exotic places. Biking wasn’t just a hobby anymore it was a passion and a way of life for me.”

While stationed in Hawaii, a friend asked Brook to do a triathlon — a mountain man-type of triathlon. Brook explains, “I all but sank in the swimming portion and people kept passing me during the running. But on the bike? On the bike I was fast.” So Brook decided to try his hand at semi-professional racing. He gained a few sponsors and raced successfully for about nine years. 

About four years after he had quit the racing circuit, he met his wife and they eventually had a beautiful baby girl. They settled in Fort Collins, Colorado and in 2012, Brook came to work for Geist as the primary technical support guru for the software line. Brook’s technical expertise and knowledge for the product line ultimately landed him a position as Technical Product Manager for the data center infrastructure management (DCIM) products, Environet and Racknet.

In the summer of 2016, Brook embarked on a two-week family vacation to the west coast. They had plans to see family, sightsee and camp up and down the coast. Instead, Brook progressively became ill and ended up in the hospital. He was soon diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is a disease that inflames the large intestines and, while rare, about 1-2% of people diagnosed with it will have serious complications. Brook was one of those rare cases. Within two short weeks of being diagnosed, Brook’s colon ruptured, nearly killing him.

“I had four major surgeries and spent about twelve weeks in the hospital fighting for my life. It was an extremely hard time for my family and me. Normal life completely stopped.”

Throughout his health struggles and life changing events, the people at Geist helped see Brook and his family through it. Concerned about letting customers, partners and his team down, Brook worried that his health issues might affect open projects, deadlines, and potentially product roadmaps.

“I was told over and over that my only priority was getting healthy. Not to worry about work. That the team would cover my responsibilities until I got back on my feet. Everyone at Geist stepped forward to let me know they had my back. I can’t tell you what a relief that was. To have that burden lifted so I could focus on getting better.”

Not only did the team pitch in to help with the workload, they made sure his family had help when they needed it.

“I had people helping my wife with paperwork, coming over to the house to help with our lawn which had gotten out of control that summer due to the obvious neglect. People visiting my hospital room, dropping off bike magazines, sitting with my wife and just being present. Managers, executives, co-workers—everyone was there for us.”

When all was said done, the doctors were able to save his life, but to do so, they had to remove his entire large intestine. Life was about to take on a whole new normal, but as Brook puts it, “At least I was alive.”

When the crisis had past and Brook was healthy again, it was his co-workers who helped get him back on his bike. The first ride he took after he recovered was with some of his best friends who also happen to work at Geist.

“It says something that we can spend an entire 40 plus hour work week together and still want to go riding afterwards. Still be there for each other when life throws us a curve ball — or in my case a near death experience,” he adds with a chuckle.

Brook rides regularly with his coworkers, meeting a few times a week for treks to the foothills of Fort Collins. He is back to enjoying his passion of biking, averaging 2,000 miles a year and over 150k feet in elevation gain. He often rides to and from work just for the pure joy of pedaling. His experiences have put a renewed appreciation for the balance he is able to keep between work, family, biking and health.

“I’m proud to be a product manager for Geist’s DCIM team. Geist has proven that the dedication we put in making quality products starts with taking care of the people who make them. And I am proud to be a part of a culture that knows professional success often requires personal victories.”

 

As I begin driving, I run through my list one more time. Did I return that call? Check. Did I schedule that follow up meeting? Check. Did I document the revised product development gate process? Check. Did I update the budget for next month? No, but I wrote it down for Monday so it won’t get missed. I turn up the radio and watch as the buildings fade and the road opens up to green rolling hills intermingled with creeks and trees. As I pass through a number of sleepy, small towns my list quiets and I focus on the music.