MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesotans are bringing out their motorcycles for the first time this season.

While the weather is perfect for riding, other factors make this time of year especially dangerous for bikers.

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“There’s sand and gravel on the side of the road you have to watch for that,” said biker Curt Sandell. “And your skills are dormant over the winter. Go to a parking lot and do some U-turns or figure 8’s, get your skills up again.”

It’s not just the riders, drivers haven’t had to watch for bikes all winter.

“People aren’t used to seeing us,” Sandell said. “All the sudden there’s a motorcycle.”

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Training and awareness are key to keeping riders safe all year long, but their last line of defense comes down to their gear.

“If you ride with all the gear all the time and something happens, you have a lot better chance of surviving,” said Greg Pierce, a motorcycle safety coordinator. “It’s been proven that helmets are effective and save lives.”

Dressing for safety goes beyond just the helmet.

“A good quality jacket that actually has some protective gear built in,” Pierce said.

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The Department of Public Safety and the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center offer classes for beginners up through expert level.