TRAM pedals through Austin

Published 6:45 am Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Steve Erickson of Whalen rides east on County Road 2 east of Lansing as he heads toward Austin Tuesday morning. Erickson, a rider taking part in the TRAM Ride, was the first cyclist into the Austin area. -- Eric Johnson/

Organizers brace for more than 850 bikers

The horde is here.

More than 850 bikers are in town today as part of The Ride Across Minnesota (TRAM), which raises funding and awareness to fight Multiple Sclerosis.

“We’ve got some fun things planned for everybody,” said Cheryl Corey, executive director of Austin’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

A pair of riders taking part in the TRAM Ride make their way east out of Lansing Tuesday morning.

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Cheryl Corey, executive director of Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, has been busy coordinating local efforts to make TRAM a success. The ride, which starts in Rochester and travels through Owatonna, Austin, Lanesboro, Winona and back to Rochester, will bring anywhere from 900 to more than 1,000 bicyclists through each city over six days. In addition, each town is expected to have about a $50,000 boost to its economy, according to Corey.

In February, Corey and representatives from other cities attended a host city summit, where they gathered information on how to facilitate the slew of riders.

The summit suggested cities coordinate efforts so the same meals, entertainment and activities aren’t duplicated each night.

TRAM previously traveled through Austin in 2002.

That year, some preparations were not as complete as they could have been, according to Corey. That won’t be the case this year, Corey said, as Austin has plenty of food vendors and entertainment for riders to enjoy.

City officials are throwing a few celebrations for TRAM riders before they head to Lanesboro Wednesday morning. There is entertainment and beer gardens at Todd Park from 3 to 9:30 p.m. There are performances by Six Mile Grove, Nate T, Second Edition and Amanda Corey during that time, and all performances were donated to the MS Society. In addition, the MS Society will take the stage for awards and announcements at 7 p.m.

Public shuttle buses will be available to help ease parking. There will be five food vendors at Todd Park as well. The public is invited to attend.