A self-taught bicycle rider at age six, David Shilling said he's always enjoyed riding bicycles.
At age 16, he saw the MS (Multiple Sclerosis) TRAM (The Ride Across Minnesota) bicyclists ride through New Ulm.
It caught his attention.
Minnesota Valley Lutheran graduate David Shilling, now pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Le Sueur will ride the Star Tribune TRAM (The Ride Across Minnesota) July 25-30, 2010 to raise money for people with MS. Shilling is among six bicyclists known as the Reverent Riders. The group will begin in Alexandria and stop in Little Falls, Pequot Lakes, Wadena, and Fergus Falls before finishing in Alexandria.
He dreamed about becoming an MS TRAM participant.
Two decades later, his dreams have become reality.
In 1990, he completed a 60-mile route to benefit the American Lung Association.
Last year, Shilling and two other area pastors competed TRAM.
The ride took riders through Ortonville, Montevideo, Redwood Falls, St. Peter, New Prague, and finished at Welch Village Ski Area, southeast of the Twin Cities metro area.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society uses money raised through the MS TRAM to fund new research, support advocacy, professional education and provide programs and services for people with MS and their families.
Shilling raised about $1,100 last year for MS.
Last year, the MS TRAM raised $1 million.
The average rider raised $873.
"It was so much fun, I decided to do it again this year and found more people (four ministers, a Lutheran school principal and Lutheran church member) to join me and create a six-person team, the Reverent Riders," Shilling said.
To prepare for the ride, Shilling rides a stationary bike (during the winter and other challenging weather) and rides a 30-pound, Cannondale T-700 bicycle.
The bikes are known for sturdy frames with room for racks and water bottles.
Earlier this month, the New Ulm Pizza Ranch hosted a Tip Night to raise money for Shilling's 2010 ride. He raised about $250.
"It was great and so much fun, I want to do that again in New Ulm too," Shilling added.
Star Tribune TRAM riders are responsible for their own meals.
Host towns provide dinner options including park vendors, shuttles to restaurants or dinners at churches or hosted by other organizations.
While riding, the MS Society provides bikers with fruit, water, Gatorade, Granola bars and other snacks plus a finish line meal.
The average rider spends $20-25 a day on food.
They are allowed three packed bags of camping items, tents, coolers, and related gear.
Volunteers pick up tagged bags, drive them to the next town and unload them.
Bike MS events go on rain or shine.
Riders are advised to immediately seek shelter if they encounter severe weather.
Donations for Shilling can be sent to 420 S. Park, Le Sueur, MN 56058.
For more information, call 1-800-582-5296 or visit bikemnm.nationalmssociety.org/