“I remember being around when TRAM came through Redwood Falls. It was one of the first times they came through town,” Jan Erickson said; this year she will take part in the ride itself for the 10th time.
Jan Erickson recently took time to count her t-shirts, but these were not run-of-the-mill fashion pieces. Each one has a story, and all of those stories starts by putting one pedal in front of the other. The shirts are her souvenirs from rides across different areas of this state as a biker in the annual ride across Minnesota to raise funds for multiple sclerosis. “This year’s ride is my 10th,” said Erickson, who calls Redwood Falls home, adding she has fond memories from all of her experiences as a part of TRAM. Erickson said the idea to begin riding as part of TRAM began years ago. “I remember being around when TRAM came through Redwood Falls. It was one of the first times they came through town,” she said. Seeing all of those bikes and observing the kind of experience those who rode were having put an idea in her head. Some day she would ride, too. Years went by, and Erickson said the opportunity never really came, but then she and her sister-in-law, Peggy Rabe, began talking more seriously about the idea. While Erickson is not exactly sure what year it was when she first rode in TRAM – she surmised about 15 years ago – she does remember being part of the event. “We rode across northern Minnesota,” she said. “It was a 323 mile ride and it was so exciting. It felt so good to accomplish that.” The next year new bikes were acquired, and Erickson and Rabe then continued their experience as riders for nine consecutive years. After a few years off, Erickson opted to get involved again this year for the 10th time, because it was again coming through her hometown. So, Erickson got in fundraising mode to collect the $300 she needed to ride.
Erickson said in the past, prior to retirement, she was able to talk with co-workers to help raise the funds. She now relies more on friends and family, who have also been instrumental in her fundraising over the years, adding she truly appreciates those who have been supportive of her this year and over the 10-year span of her TRAM rides. Erickson said she is always very impressed to hear just how much money others have raised in one year for the TRAM cause. While collecting money for MS is the key piece of the event for all riders, Erickson said being able to ride more than 300 miles in just a few days doesn’t just happen. It means getting out and riding on a regular basis, which is something that has become second nature for Erickson. On any given day one might find this biking enthusiast traveling the roads of Redwood County as a way to stay healthy and to continue doing something she enjoys. Erickson said she tries to put on 15-20 miles three or four times each week. Erickson said she doesn’t ride just to finish what she started. “I’m not in a big hurry,” she said, adding as she rides in TRAM over the next few days she is not going to be in race mode. For her, it’s about taking things in and making memories along the way. Of course, sister-in-law, Peggy, is also going to be riding in TRAM this year, as the two have developed a biking friendship. That relationship was taken to the next level recently when the pair of bikers trekked across the southern United States – a 3,000 mile ride from California to Florida. Erickson said she was looking forward to seeing people she has met over the years as a rider in TRAM again. “I have made friends over the years,” she said, adding in a lot of ways being part of TRAM is like being part of one big happy family. “I am looking forward to taking in the scenery,” said Erickson, adding each ride is different and allows for a new view of something. She’s ready to ride.