Time for TRAM

MARSHALL – Cyclists riding in the Bike MS: The Ride Across Minnesota (TRAM) rolled into town Monday after fighting the big wind on the prairie.

The blustery first day of the week-long ride took participants from Pipestone to Holland, over Buffalo Ridge, by Lake Benton and then through Russell and Lynd before stopping and setting up camp in Independence Park for the night.

Near the entrance to the park, the Prairie Pedalers team set up camp for its 12 riders from across Minnesota.

“We are from everywhere in the state,” said team member Cheryl Lee of Thief River Falls. “We even have a guy from Chicago riding with us. If we see people riding alone, we ask them to joins us.”

The team left Pipestone at 5:45 a.m. and some members arrived in Marshall as early as 10:30 a.m. Gusts up to 30 mph were forecast for Monday, slowing riders as they were headed north and giving them a boost as they headed East.

Lee said the riders definitely felt the wind.

“I’m from Thief River Falls and I thought our wind was bad,” Lee said. “The crosswinds would almost blow you off the road.”

Gary Gritmacker of Canby also rides with the Prairie Pedalers. He has been participating in the Bike MS: TRAM for 18 years.

“We have a wonderful time,” Gritmacker said, “and it’s all fun, it’s a big fun party.”

Jacob Deal and Allison Hurtgen of the Twin Cities were enjoying a beer at the park’s concession stand after their ride. They said they had left Pipestone at 7:30 a.m. and rode the 60 miles to Marshall in roughly four hours.

“It’s a good way to experience Minnesota,” said Deal, who has ridden in TRAM twice before. “It’s very well organized.”

This wasn’t Deal’s first ride. He said he participated in the 150-mile Bike MS ride between Duluth and Minneapolis, as well as a three-day ride around Puerto Rico.

“The furthest I had gone before today was 32 miles,” said Hurtgen, participating in the event for the first time. ” Riding against the wind was brutal. I was scared at first, but I survived.”