MS150 – Help me reach my goal!

I will be participating in the C.H. Robinson Worldwide MS 150 Ride 2012.  The ride covers 150 miles over two days, starting in Duluth MN on June 9th, and arriving in White Bear Lake MN on June 10th.  I participated in this event last year and was able to raise over $600 – I am looking to reach and hopefully exceed that amount this year!
As you may have guessed, my post here is seeking donations from you to help support both my participation in this event (very small percentage) and to help fund MS research around the world (major percentage).  If you can spare $5, $50, or anything between or greater, please visit my donation site (http://bit.ly/xxzXvs).  If you cannot donate at this time, please support me in spirit by sharing this email with your friends and family, or posting words of support on my Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/techman97) or Twitter (@andyboettcher).
New this year, the MS Society takes advantage of “donation matching” that is offered by a lot of businesses lately.  If your company has registered with the MS Society, you can use the “Company Finder” at the bottom of the donation page as well.  (if they’re not registered, sign them up!  *smile*)
Thank you for your time, I hope I can count on your support.  Have a great day!
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Hundreds of miles and working a lot!

Wow it’s been a long time since I wrote on here. I’ve put down about 550 miles on the bike since the last post, including my first century ride and my first ride with Team Cargill on the MS150. Both INCREDIBLE events and I’m looking forward to doing both again next year.

Century Ride – the Leinenkugel’s Century Ride (102 miles, about 7 hours).  Incredible scenery, but holy heck the far end of the route had a 4-5 mile mostly uphill grade.  Insane, but so incredibly rewarding crossing that finish line.  The free Leinenkugel’s beer and brats were a nice touch.  =)

MS150 – Duluth, MN to White Bear Lake, MN over two days (150 miles, combined approx 8 hours of wheels spinning time).  This is the first event that I’ve truly experienced the benefit of pack/group riding.  There was a point on the first day where a group of us were cruising at a fairly sustained 26-28mph for about 6 miles, and a VERY large pack of Target, UnitedHealthGroup, Cargill, and solo riders in a draft line of about 50-60 doing 23-25mph for about 12 miles.  One of the ladies on the Target team had a radio pumping out some music a few riders up from us in that line, so that made the time fly by even faster.

Most of my time since the last post has been settling into my new role at Demand Chain Systems.  I came on in January as a “Senior CRM Technologist”, working on every facet of the business from sales support / light PM to hardcore APEX coding.  Picked up my Salesforce Admin and Developer certifications and haven’t looked back since.  Salesforce is such an incredible platform that allows users and developers to focus on quickly delivering real-world applicable solutions rather than monkey around with framework and building webpages from scratch.  With too many awesome features to list, a Java-based programming language on top of it (APEX / Visualforce) practically allows you to build anything you want.  More on that in later posts.

Also in other biking news, I logged my 2,000th road mile since getting back on the bike in 2010.  I was leading a ride for the Hiawatha Bike Club down south of my house and I yelled out “WHOOOO!” as my bike compy clicked that last 1/10th of a mile.  Awesome!  Only 1,189 miles left to hit my 2,000 mile goal for the year.  Hopefully the Minnesota weather will start cooperating with me.

Five-Minute Bicycle Maintenance

One of the most critical things that you need to know when you’re out biking around is how to perform some basic maintenance tasks.  You don’t need to be one of those crazy bike shop techs by any means (no disrespect to you fine ladies and gentlemen – YOU ROCK!) to do any of this – my view of shop techs are that they are CRITICAL to use for those once-a-year bike tuneups.  (They’re also awesome for telling me that I should buy “this” brand of shorts over “that” brand even though they’re $10 more expensive – because they won’t make my rear end look like two pigs wrestling over a milk-dud…)

This was a GREAT article that was sent to me by Bicycling Magazine.  (for the original article, click on this link)  I’m going to cut / paste some of the meaty bits into my post here, but I strongly encourage everyone to head to the source website for more details and to sign up for a subscription!

Here are seven (7) simple checks that you can – I should say SHOULD – perform on your bike after each and every ride.  Your safety and the safety of those you ride with depend on it!

Your Wheels

CHECK FOR: Trueness

HOW?: While spinning the wheel, watch the distance between the rim and the brake pad. It should be uniform for the entire rotation. If it wobbles, the wheel needs truing.

ON YOUR NEXT RIDE: Your wobbly wheel won’t lead to more serious problems, such as a shudder while descending or brake pads rubbing.

Your Quick-Release Wheel Clamps

CHECK FOR: Side-to-side play in the wheel; QRs or skewers that aren’t tight or secure

HOW?: Make sure quick-releases are closed all the way, and that bolt-on skewers are securely fastened.

ON YOUR NEXT RIDE: Your wheel won’t come loose and detach from your bike midride.

Your Brakes

CHECK FOR: Grit on the pads, caliper alignment

HOW?: If your brakes feel gritty, clean the pads with a rag and degreaser; replace pads if the grooves are worn more than 50 percent compared with new pads. Calipers are aligned if the pads are equidistant from the rim.

ON YOUR NEXT RIDE: You won’t go to grab the levers only to roll right through the stop sign at the bottom of the hill.

Your Tires

CHECK FOR: Low tire pressure, embedded glass, slices in the tire or sidewall

HOW?: Inflate tires to proper pressure, and carefully remove embedded debris with tweezers. A cut tire or sidewall is prone to a blowout and shouldn’t be ridden; replace it.

ON YOUR NEXT RIDE: Your chances of flatting will greatly decrease, and you may have prevented a nasty midride blowout.

**This one I can’t stress enough!  Of anything that will go wrong with your bike, you’ll blow a tire first.  Learn how to change your tire – both front and back.  At the beginning of the ride year, I’ll replace my tubes both to just get fresh ones in there as well for a refresher course in changing them out.  Your rear wheel has all of that fun stuff that looks complicated to work around, but really it can pop out pretty easily.  Invest in a cheap 3-part plastic wheel change kit, a fresh tube, and a CO2 canister!

Your Seat bag

CHECK FOR: Supplies you may have depleted on your ride

HOW?: If you used something during a ride, replace it so it’s there for the next ride. If your spare tube has been in there for a while, give it a quick inspection to make sure it’s still intact.

***I would even say to recycle any tube that has been in your bag for a year – tubes are cheap compared to the frustration of an old tube popping on you!

ON YOUR NEXT RIDE: You’ll have a spare tube and CO2 cartridge to lend to the guy who didn’t follow this postride checklist.

Your Cleats (if you use Cycling Shoes)

CHECK FOR: Loose bolts and overall wear

HOW?: Worn-out cleats won’t engage as crisply. You’ll know when they’ve just plain quit on you, then it’s time for new cleats. Bolts can loosen over time. If your cleat isn’t secure to your shoe, tighten the bolts.

ON YOUR NEXT RIDE: Your foot won’t pop out without warning, and you won’t tumble to the ground because you couldn’t disengage your cleat.

Your Frame

CHECK FOR: Cracks, especially at the joints

HOW?: Using a rag and bike polish, wipe dirt and moisture from your frame. Look for cracks, flaking paint and other irregularities.

ON YOUR NEXT RIDE: You’ll either be on your bike because you didn’t find a crack, or you’ll be on your way to the shop for a pro evaluation. If your carbon frame is cracked, don’t mess around. Failure could be catastrophic.

Stay safe out there!

MS150 – Help me reach my goal!

Well here we go – cycling season is starting to ramp up!  I have just signed up for the 2011 MS150 Bike Tour, which starts in Duluth MN and ends up in White Bear Lake MN.

I need to raise a minimum of $300 – can you help me out?  Please visit http://tinyurl.com/4otdj4r and donate if you can!  $10 or $100 – or anything inbetween – every little bit helps the MS Society!  (Thanks if you can help!!)

As for the route, we’ll pretty much be following the Interstate 35 corridor all the way – stopping mid-way in Hinckley, MN for an overnight rest.

If you’re along the route – swing out and cheer me on!

First “Ride” of the Year…

OH MAN I’m going to feel that in the morning.  On the trainer, 15 miles, 45 minutes, avg 18mph on 7/10 resistance.  My pre-exercise meal consisted of five “Dollar Store” chocolate-covered graham crackers and a Surly Furious.

I’m going to have to work on that pre-exercise meal part.

After the high temps in the morning got down to 20 last year, I stopped biking – which I logged on GreenLightRide as 10/16/2010.  Since then, I didn’t do SQUAT until mid-December (1/2 laziness, 1/2 pneumonia) when I started “playing racquetball” twice a week or so with my best bud Brian.  I use the “quotation marks” because we’re more just randomly slapping the ball around the court and not trying to kill ourselves rather than playing a respectable real game.  Tonight something popped into my head that I was done sitting around; that I needed to get back on my bike and work off my winter coat.  Perhaps having just registered for the Warrior Dash (5K) and MN Ironman Bike Ride (68 miles) could have been part of it?  Maybe.

My poor road bike is still halfway taken apart in my living room – I’ve been kind of putting it aside since the $17 “parts bike” I found at Goodwill didn’t exactly pan out like I wanted.  Silver lining about that Goodwill bike is that for $150 or so for a good tuneup and some parts, anyone can turn that into a respectable touring bike and ride with me this year.  After I was done riding, I walked upstairs to get some water and saw “Old Blue” sitting there all sad in the living room – as if he was saying, “hey man, tighten up my handlebars and we’ll take a tour around the block!”  Sorry Old Blue, but it’s like -2 right now.

Man though, the body is a magical thing.  Even after sitting on my butt for almost two months, the first 15 minutes on the bike were killer – just as I remember used to be the case from biking last season.  At minute 14 I just about stopped; my butt was numb, my legs were on fire, my back ached.  But then, at minute 15, I hit my stride and went for another half an hour while watching CSI: Miami.

Beat that, Horatio Caine.  YEOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW…..