After two wonderful years riding with Team Christner, we finally had enough critical mass to establish a company-sponsored team from Microgrid Solar. In the last year, we’ve hired a number of new people who are avid cyclists, and ride to work on a regular basis. Rick Hunter, our CEO and company owner, created a corporate culture that encourages this, allowing employees to wear shorts in the summer and change clothes as needed. We installed a bike rack in our front stairwell, and offer subsidized transit for people to bike and ride. As a result of this, Microgrid was awarded a Silver rating as a Bicycle Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists. In addition, Citizens for Modern Transit honored us along with Washington University with an award for 2014 Best Workplaces for Commuters. . It’s fitting that such a cycling-centered company would have its own team!
Microgrid has always done a great job of marketing, and we seized the opportunity to design a branded jersey to promote the company. One of our employees, Taylor March, asked his sister Meredith, a graphic artist, to create a design that captured our company colors and culture. Two of our solar customers, Better Life and Schlafly (The Saint Louis Brewery) sponsored our team. We also highlighted our B-Corp Certification as evidence of how we embrace a Triple Bottom Line philosophy of people, profit and planet.
Eight of the 10 team members are Microgrid employees, including…
- Taylor March is our team mechanic who custom built a Taylor-made bicycle that he rides to work regularly. Taylor and his sister rode a double century (two 100 mile rides for you non-bikers). Isn’t that inspiring?
- Patrick Kemp made the ride in spite of a soccer injury on his knee, and rides to work when he doesn’t need to drive around to solar construction sites.
- Gordon Schweitzer is one of our newer employees, who strategically placed a bike in the background of his Skype interview to show he fit our company culture!
- David Scally is a hard-core tri-athlete who is as enthusiastic about biking as he is about solar power. David did a century on Day 1 but had to cut Day 2 short because of a broken chain.
- Tim Schulz defected from his dad’s team to co-captain our team this year, and rode a century on Saturday and another half-century on Sunday.
- Chad Schubert and his wife Breann both rode their first long-distance bike ride and did great! Chad also bikes to work regularly along with riding the Metro.
- Rick Hunter, our CEO, sprained his knee running in the rain the night before the event and wasn’t able to ride. We gave him plenty of grief for the unfortunate accident.
- Harold Anderson, my faithful cycling partner for the last 10+ years, joined our team out of sheer loyalty. What a friend!
The whole team chose to camp at the event, and we braved two waves of thunderstorms that ravaged the Boone County Fairgrounds Friday night. We paid to have a tent canopy erected near the band with other team tents, and were disappointed to find it on the ground unassembled when we arrived. Loaded with engineering expertise, we decided we were quite capable of putting it up ourselves, and hurried to complete the task before as another storm rolled in. It was worse than the first, and three of us ate our dinner in my car as the canopy quickly filled with water. As the rain continued to pour, we helplessly watched the collapse of the structure under the weight. When we reported this to the MS staff, they told us that they were waiting until after the second storm passed through to put up the tent. Uh-ohhhh…
Saturday morning was cool and wet, with overcast skies still heavy from the passing rain. As we rode into a headwind that morning, I smiled knowing that this would be our friend in the afternoon. Sure enough, the clouds dissipated, and the afternoon turned into a beautiful day for biking! At one of my favorite rest stops, we were greeted by the sweetest little lassie handing out shamrock stickers. The volunteers that staff the stops are so gracious and generous, and lavish with their appreciation!
Most of us arrived mid-afternoon and enjoyed the festivities at the fairground that lead into the evening, including live music and food. The MS staff found a new canopy tent for us, and we enjoyed the music and beer donated by Schlafly. We received plenty of applause in the team jersey contest, but not enough to top the colorful winner!
Sunday was as beautiful as Saturday from the start. Most of us did the 40-mile loop, though Tim, Chad and Bree picked up an extra 10 by doubling back on a beautiful stretch of flat, newly paved asphalt that felt like riding on glass. As I picked up my 14th medal in as many years at the finish line, I smiled with pride knowing that this ride raises millions of dollars to help find a cure for MS.
Thanks to all of you who contributed to my fundraising effort! If you haven’t yet and still want to, you can visit my page at https://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/sro2014.