MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of motorcyclists took part in the annual Fall Flood Run on Saturday.

Around 30,000 motorcyclists rode along the Mississippi and St. Croix River valleys from the Twin Cities to Winona.

The event comes at the end of a deadly summer for motorcyclists. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says deaths from crashes are up this year. Preliminary reports show 51 motorcyclists have died on Minnesota roads so far this year, up from 46 in all of 2014.

For the riders who come back year after year to the Flood Run, safety is top of mind.

“Biking is like a family,” Charles Irmiter, from Bloomington, said.

Irmiter is a part of the American Bikers for Awareness, Training, and Education Minnesota. The organization promotes motorcycle safety.

“A lot of the problems are new riders on powerful motorcycles coming into a curb too hot, not knowing how to use their breaks properly,” Irmiter said.

The DPS says motorcycle riders should avoid alcohol and wear proper safety gear, including a helmet. Motorists also need to be alert, by checking their blind spots and giving riders space.

“Cars are always crowding up and so the one thing they can do is give three hundred feet,” Pierre Audet, from Eagan, said.

Still, some motorcyclists at the Flood Run say accidents are inevitable. They prepare and pray for a safe ride.

“We can only hope for the best that everyone has a great day and they’re responsible,” Irmiter said.

About one third of motorcycle deaths involve riders who had been drinking. Proceeds from the Flood Run help benefit Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.

Kate Raddatz