Wednesday, July 09, 2008

LAist - Road Rage Motorist vs. Cyclists on Mandeville Canyon Road

LAist, July 7, 2008

On July 4th, about 300 cyclists gathered at the Manhattan Beach Starbucks for a Holiday Ride to the top of Mandeville Canyon Road in Brentwood. The Holiday Ride is a regular event that takes place 5-6 times a year drawing cyclists from all over the greater LA area.

Mandeville Canyon, off Sunset Blvd., is a steep and challenging ride and the crowd quickly thinned out with some cyclists racing to the top while others rode socially, catching up with old friends and savoring the journey.

On the descent, a cyclist in the back fell, breaking his collarbone and injuring himself seriously enough to require medical attention and a ride to the hospital in an ambulance. Christian Stoehr, 29, and Ron Peterson, 40, stayed behind until the ambulance arrived and then they began their descent down the hill.

Christian Stoehr recounts "We were riding downhill at approximately 30 mph when a car came up behind us, must have been doing 50 mph, and the driver started honking at us. We moved to the right in single file within seconds and the motorist pulled along Ron and started screaming at him. He then pulled in front of us with 3-5 feet to spare and slammed on his brakes, giving us no time to stop. I swerved and almost made it, clipping the car and flying through the air and landing in the street. Ron had no room to move and he went straight into the back of the car, putting his face through the back window."

The driver of the vehicle stopped his car and continued the tirade, identifying himself as a Doctor but never offering medical attention.

Ron told the motorist to turn off the car and Christian sat on the hood of the car, afraid that the driver would drive off. The motorist continued the tirade, telling Christian to get his bike out of the street. Christian reported that they were afraid that the motorist would leave the scene.

A third cyclist, Chris Roberts, rode up and stepped in to make sure the motorist didn't leave. Christian collapsed on the side of the road as the ambulance from the top of the hill pulled up with the first injured cyclist. Paramedics jumped out and administered first aid.

Christian was banged up, collected road rash and was unable to move his right arm. Ron reports that "my nose was separated to the point that it was hanging off my face. They moved it to the side and pulled glass out of my face. My front two teeth are broken, they found a piece in the backseat mixed in with all the glass. I've got 90 stitches in my face."

Both cyclists ride with Synergy and both are accomplished racers. Ron is a CAT1 racer and former State Champion with 14 years of racing experience. Christian has a couple of years of racing under his belt and says "Ron is my racing coach and just a couple of months ago he conducted a safety class with exercises to teach us better bike handling skills. This meant I was better prepared to take evasive action and I almost made it! Ron had no room to move and ended up hitting the back of the car, putting his face through the back window."

Christian says "It'll be months before I can ride again, I was looking forward to some of the upcoming stage races but the season is over for me. Not only that, I'm a camera and steadicam operator so I'm going to be unable to work for months."

Their bodies are broken, their bikes are totaled but their resolve is stronger than ever.

"This isn't the first time that there's been an incident like this." says Ron. "In fact two cyclists from LAGrange were recently run off the road by a motorist who fits the same description as this one. They reported it but no charges were filed. Same road, same situation. We've got to work together to prosecute this guy to the full extent of the law before he kills somebody!"

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