A Portola Valley resident said he was among 100 or so cyclists at the scene of a road-rage incident involving a pickup truck on Saturday, Jan. 26, in Woodside. Mark, who asked that his last name not be used, said he called the Almanac to present another view of the incident, and he said he contacted the Sheriff's Office with his account.
The driver of the pickup truck reported to sheriff's deputies that a group of some 50 bicyclists attacked his truck on Canada Road in Woodside on Jan. 26. He said that shortly after 10:30 a.m., the bicyclists surrounded the truck when he was at the stop sign on Canada Road at Woodside Road. The bicyclists then kicked and punched the vehicle, leaving it with a scratched door and a shattered mirror, he said.
It was the same group of bicyclists he had passed earlier on Canada Road, the driver told deputies. He said he had no idea what prompted the road rage.
Here is what happened from Mark's point of view:
Around 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, the cyclists were heading south on Canada Road on the weekly Spectrum Ride. "There are some guys that are jerks on that ride. Out of all the group rides, that's one of the craziest rides there is. More mayhem." The Noon Ride, for example, stops at stop signs and stays in the right lane, he said.
This incident began on a slightly downhill section of Canada, a 1-percent grade. Mark was riding near the front of the group on the left side. The bikes were traveling "really fast. You gotta assume we were doing close to 35 mph," he said. A gray Dodge Ram pickup "blew by us just crazy fast. ... I felt like I was standing on the freeway."
"Everybody kind of swerved (to the right) and panicked and checked up," he said, using a term that refers to pedaling hard and suddenly slowing. The reaction rippled backwards as one cyclist after another put on the brakes. "A one-inch problem up front turns into a 4-foot problem in back" and one cyclist might have gone down, Mark said, adding that he did not witness that.
Other riders have alluded to events at the Glenwood Avenue stop sign, including the driver creating a plume of diesel exhaust and stopping short in front of the bikes -- brake checking, Mark called it -- but the passing maneuver is what really scared him. "Everybody just kind of cut over to the right so we wouldn't get hit," he said.
The group had stretched out by the time the truck reached the stop sign at Woodside Road, but "four or five riders" had caught up, blocked the truck's passage and were pounding on it -- and the driver was in the process of getting out. "Oh man, this is not good," Mark said he recalled saying to himself as he pulled up. He said he yelled at the driver: "'Dude, don't get out of your car. Get back in your car,' and he did, thank god."
"What the cyclists did after the fact was absolutely wrong and illegal. But he used his car as a weapon," he added. Mark said he and other cyclists tried to defuse the situation by calling off the cyclists pounding the truck, telling them to mellow out.
Drivers behaving badly is not a common occurrence, and cycling groups do have problem riders, Mark said. "I know I'm yelling at them to stay over (to the right)."
With the riders amped up and vulnerable to begin with, road rage on the part of a driver can be the spark that ignites the fire. "It's very competitive. There's a lot of testosterone in that group. People do stupid stuff," Mark said. "With all that testosterone going around, it was good that that guy got back in his car. ... I thought it was going to get really, really out of hand."
Mark said he called in a complaint to the Sheriff's Office on Feb. 1 and hoped that other riders would as well.
Did the cyclists damage the truck's side mirror and scratch the paint, as the driver reported to the Sheriff's Office? Mark said he did not know.
■ Related story: Driver: Bicyclists attacked my truck.