Start seeing motorcycles

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"Start seeing motorcycles."

The public safety campaign, like the motorcycles, revs into high gear this weekend when the annual Spring Flood Run will bring thousands and thousands of riders to the region.

For the uninitiated, the Flood Run and its autumn counterpart raise money for Gillette Children's Hospital and commemorate the 12 Twin Cities riders who rode 90 miles to Winona, Minn., to sandbag the town during the historic 1965 flood. The community threw them a party in 1966 and eventually the Flood Run was born.

This year, Spring Flood Run morning activities will take place bright and early April 15 at Shiner's Bar and Grill in Lakeland, Minn. From there, bikers will head south.

Several hundred will come from (and thousands more will drive through) Pierce County.

Instead of 12, expect 12,000 (and more) motorists to head down the Wisconsin side because they consider the undulating Highway 35 more fun than Minnesota's U.S. Highway 61. Still, others will take the traditional route to Winona and then circle back up around Lake Pepin.

Indeed, you'll start seeing motorcycles.

You'll need to pay attention, too.

In many car-motorcycle crashes, drivers claimed they "didn't see" the motorcycle or didn't see it until it was too late. Motorcycles are smaller and harder to see than cars are. Motorcycles can easily be hidden by a car or truck, so safety experts suggest motorists look for a helmet above, tires below or a shadow alongside a vehicle that they can't see around.

Of course, riders need to make themselves as conspicuous as possible — wear bright colors, use reflective tape, tap the brakes brakes a few times to flash the red lights before slowing down or stopping.

You can expect plenty of stopping during the Flood Run. On the Minnesota side, Hastings, Red Wing, Frontenac, Lake City, Wabasha, Minnieska and Minnesota City are on the official list. Wisconsin stop features Prescott, Diamond Bluff, Hager City, Bay City, Maiden Rock, Pepin, Nelson, Alma and Fountain City.

So start seeing motorcycles — every day and on Saturday when they'll be pretty hard to miss.

Check weather forecast .... May complicate the ride. The Flood Run takes place the third Saturday in April and third Saturday in October regardless of weather.