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TOMAHAWK (WAOW) -
Two motorcycle crashes have already happened connected with this year's MDA Fall Ride in Tomahawk.
One crash happened Friday morning, Lincoln County Sheriff's officials said, but they wouldn't release any information about what happened.
The other crash happened Thursday night north of Tomahawk. Sheriff's officials say a 58-year-old man is in critical condition.
This comes as state patrol officers step up efforts to make sure the 40,000 motorcyclists in Tomahawk for the Fall Ride stay safe on the road.
At least one of those riders wouldn't be here if it wasn't for a helmet that saved his life.
"One day I was on my way to work," said Tim Wayd as he talks about an accident that forever changed the way he rides. He was 18 when he popped over a hill and saw an automobile in front of him. But, the sun was on his back and he never saw the driver break.
"Just a moment of inattentive driving on my part and it was too late. I couldn't stop. I rear ended the automobile with my motorcycle. I went over her trunk, over her roof, down her windshield, and landed on the concrete in front of her."
Wayd said he knows what saved his life. "Fortunately, my parents insisted I wear my riding gear... wear a helmet, wear gloves, and wear boots," said Wayd.
Now Wayd is sharing his safety message with other drivers. He led visitors in traffic simulations as part of REF, the transportable high-end rider education facility.
Last year there were 116 deaths from motorcycle crashes on Wisconsin roads. The Wisconsin Motorcycle Safety Program aims to get that number to zero.
But the State Patrol says that is only possible with help from automobile drivers. "If I'm a car driver and I see a lot of motorcyclists is just be aware. Motorcyclists are hard to see and a lot of time we are camouflaged in the environment," said Sgt. Les Mlsna.
According to Lincoln County Sheriff's Department, there has been at least two crashes already this week as thousands of motorcycle riders converge on the Northwoods for the MDA Fall Ride.
Wisconsin law enforcement are trying to prevent another accident by stepping up patrol.
The Tomahawk Police are increasing patrols to keep visitors and locals safe. All officers have extended hours with most of them on 12 hour shifts.
The State Patrol is also busy at the event and on the roads. Normally there are two officers on motorcycles on patrol at a time, per county. On Friday, that number was 14. Sgt. Les Mlsna said when people see a motorcycle driver that's a cop it gets other drivers to look for motorcycles, whether the driver is a cop or not.
He also says this is a good opportunity to connect with fellow riders. "I think being on a motorcycle talking to motorcyclists, we have a similar perspective and we're at least able to make that common tie or bond when we make contact." said Mlsna.
Tim Wayd is helping share the message for safety by working with REF and by example. These days he won't even sit on his motorcycle without a helmet. He hopes other riders will do the same. "Wear your gear. Ride sober. Ride straight. Get some training. Keep your bike maintained. and ride your ride," are the five things Wayd wants riders to keep in mind.
States across the country are divided on motorcycle helmet laws. Wisconsin does not require anyone 18 or older to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle.
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