Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part series on the upcoming TRAM event. The second story will run in July, a week prior to the bikers pulling into Marshall.
MARSHALL - Marshall merchants need to gear up for possible extra business July 14 when somewhere between 800-1,000 bicyclists will roll into Marshall - thirsty and hungry.
The Bike MS: TRAM riders, along with raising money for a worthy cause - finding a cure for multiple sclerosis - will be eating, drinking and listening to music at their stops. Marshall is the first destination on their journey, which begins in Pipestone. From Marshall, the bikers head to Redwood Falls, then on to St. Peter, New Prague and ending at Welch Village. They will travel 300 miles throughout southern Minnesota during the week of July 13-18.
In Marshall, a "tent city" will spring up at Independence Park, said Karen VanKeulen of the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce. In addition, RVs will be parked at Park Side and 100 rooms are booked at hotels around the city.
"This is exciting," said VanKeulen. "They haven't been to Marshall since 1996.
We've been told that, as a group, between $30,000-40,000 is spent per host city."
VanKeulen is a member of a Marshall planning committee that is working with MS: TRAM personnel in Minneapolis.
"They are unbelievably organized," she said.
MS: TRAM stands for Multiple Sclerosis: The Ride Across Minnesota, a six-day annual ride that raises money for people with the disease.
A fundraising minimum of $300 (in addition to the registration fee) is required to participate. To register, visit myMSbike.org or call 855-372-1331. The registration fee includes a commemorative ride T-shirt, a finish line meal, food and drinks at rest stops, mechanical and medical support, police and volunteer support, support vehicles and entertainment.
The entertainment at Independence Park includes singer Brad Louwagie and friends, who will perform on a stage from 6:30-9 p.m.
"It's open to the public," said VanKeulen.
The public can also welcome the riders with signs or waves as they ride into town Monday morning. The bikers will snake down Country Club Drive to Saratoga Street and on over to Independence Park.
At the park, the Marshall Area Youth Baseball Association will operate a concession stand which will be a fundraiser for the group, and Brau Brothers will have a beer garden set up. Representatives from Marshall GreenStep will be on hand to make sure the trash is thrown away appropriately. Also the Boy Scouts will camp out to guard the bikes during the night.
Shuttles will be provided for the bikers to get out into the community to look around and/or shop, VanKeulen said.
Any MS: TRAM participants who want to take a spin around Marshall on their bikes will be directed to the new bike trail past Independent Lumber and Walnut Grove Mercantile, VanKeulen said.
And by 8:30 the next morning, "they'll all be gone," VanKeulen said.