The unofficial start to the motorcycle season is Saturday. Already?!
Given last week's snow storm and ongoing high waters, that seems hard to believe. And therein lies the danger this spring: You may simply not be prepared to "start seeing motorcycles."
Motorcyclists by the thousands will cruise up, down and around the Mississippi River during the annual Spring Flood Run on April 20.
The original run was down Highway 61 to Winona in 1965 to help battle the Great Flood. Today, the loop runs down both sides of the Mississippi River.
At Minnesota's Highway 10, riders may go left into Prescott and pick up Highway 35, or right to Highway 61 and down the nostalgic Minnesota side. Riders can cross the Mississippi in Prescott, Red Wing, Wabasha or Winona. And the broad sweep with numerous entry points means that motorcyclists will be on all the region's streets, roads and highways.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Motorcycle Safety Center offers these safety tips:
• Watch for motorcycles. Due to the smaller size of motorcycles, their speed and distance is more difficult to judge.
• Always look twice before entering a roadway or changing lanes.
• Check blind spots. It's especially easy to lose a motorcycle in your blind spot.
• Give riders room.
• Pay attention and drive at safe speeds.
• Be prepared for inattentive drivers by staying focused on riding and keeping your speed in check.
• Wear the gear. Motorcyclists are highly encouraged to wear an approved helmet and brightly colored protective gear for visibility and protection.
• Take a training course. Visit motorcyclesafety.org for information.
• Maintain a minimum 2-second following distance and watch for uneven spots on the road.
• Don't drink and drive.
• Obey the speed limit.
• Use turn signals.
That the Run falls on the Easter holiday weekend also means that we can expect more travelers than usual and many of them will be unfamiliar with the region's Flood Run tradition. That's all the more reason to rev up the safety measures this year.