Can you drive that fast on Skyline? Apparently not.


Just 4 of us this morning with Karl, Eric and Marcus heading with me up through the park. Tuesday’s routing is rigid; we absolutely positively will not go through the park on Tuesdays. But Thursdays I’m willing to let the mob decide, and the mob often goes for the back route through Huddart Park.

Nobody was setting any records this morning, although I’m sure Marcus is capable if he desired. I just stayed on his wheel as long as I could and then adopted the more-sensible pace set by Eric.

But the main event had nothing to do with us this morning. Shortly after Skeggs (just after Marcus had left us for home), I hear something coming up from behind, yell out “car” and move to the far-right (I should point out that my normal positioning on a quiet road is not the far-right edge of the road, because you’re not as visible from a distance as you are when you’re in the lane, but I always move over before the car arrives). The time between me yelling “car” and its arrival was incredibly short, because this guy was going incredibly fast. So fast that, when Karl picked the pace up a bit, I jokingly asked him if he was going to try and catch the guy. So fast that I was thinking at the time, can you really drive this section that fast?

The answer is no. Just past the bend in the road we came across the busted remains of a black BMW, upside-down, maybe reduced in height by a third or so as the roof had collapsed a bit. We really didn’t know what we were going to find inside, but didn’t think much of it as we approached the car, figuring that we might be the only people around for a while and whatever needed to be done quickly, had to be done by us. I tried calling but my cell phone didn’t work (neither did someone else’s Verizon; eventually a local resident drove through with what looked like a Sprint PTT (push to talk) phone that did work. Eric went down the road a bit to try his phone there, and stop incoming traffic. We also stopped a car and asked they head down to Sky Londa and notify the fire department. And checked out the condition of the car and the occupant, concerned about the possibility of a fire, in which case we’d have to throw caution to the wind and get that guy out of there, injuries notwithstanding.

As it turned out, there were no leaking fluids, no smell of gas, just some wisps of “smoke” coming from the remnants of 6 blown airbags. The guy was semi-alert but likely cold, and we had nothing to put over him. No obvious external injuries, but someone going from 80+mph to zero in the blink of an eye is obviously going to be busted up a bit. We worked on getting the doors open, which seemed like an impossible task, given the extent of crumpling to the car, but surprisingly, they eventually sprung free. Beyond that, there wasn’t much we could do other than stop traffic and wait for the paramedics, while keeping an eye on the guy’s condition in case anyone asked.

After what seemed like forever, a fire truck, and then an EMT unit arrived, followed later by the requisite string of sheriff’s and CHPs flying up the hill as we rode back down into Woodside, a bit more sedately than normal, a bit rattled, and with fewer miles under our legs because we skipped the west-side Old LaHonda section. For some reason we just didn’t feel like doing it today, plus we were running pretty late. But whatever the inconvenience to us, we were having a far better day than the guy in the black BMW.






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24 thoughts on “Can you drive that fast on Skyline? Apparently not.

  1. Wow, Mike. Unbelievable. I’m sure the police will be looking at your footage. Please report back when you hear from them. I’m guessing he lost control when suddenly moving back into his lane after seeing that oncoming car approaching. Probably did a right-left-right-left and flipped. His brake lights went on just as the headlights of the oncoming car became visible.

    It sucks to see someone get hurt. But when you have this type of evidence that they were behaving so irresponsibly and endangering the lives of everyone around them, it’s hard to feel too sympathetic. Maybe your video will cause someone out there to think twice before driving like this. Every day during my long 50-minute [car] commute to work, I see multiple drivers behaving similarly. 80-100 mph on the freeway, changing lanes every few seconds, cutting people off continuously. It makes me ill.

    1. Ueyn: First, you need to avoid having to drive 50 minutes to work!!! I’m assuming you’re not riding your bike on the freeway when you’re observing those 80-100mph drivers. :-) Second, I’ll try to get ahold of someone at the Sheriff’s office tomorrow. I was unable to find much information on what went on today. Thanks- –Mike–

  2. Truly wow! Amazing that you captured that sequence on video. I heard them call that accident on a traffic report and was wondering how a car managed to roll up there. I’m starting to think there might be something to this helmet cam video. I made it up Kings later that morning and due to time constraints simply turned around at the top. I caught up to a black prius that I saw descending while at the top. As I closed the final gap the car slowed and I figured it might be a considerate driver giving me an opportunity to pass. So I slowed and watched and just as I began to plan my pass the prius made an unsignaled u-turn right in front of me. I would like to have captured that sequence on video.

  3. Glad that the person driving the car did not involve himself in your ride to a “greater” extent. Honestly, I’m quite fearful of riding Skyline these days. It’s the biggest reason why I seldom go up Kings Mountain Road or West Alpine any more (use Hwy84 to descend). People drive at insane speeds. At least we have a wide berth with the motorcycles. Safe & Enjoyable Riding.

  4. Mike,

    I’m really, really glad that this guy did not take you or anyone else out with his insane behavior.

    Your real-time video of his speeding and subsequent crash is really sobering. I have posted a link to this East Bay Bicycle Coalition and BikeAlameda as a reminder to us all to slow down and take it easy a bit when we are in a hurry.

    DO keep us all posted…..

  5. What is the speed limit there? it all looks extremely dangerous for both bikers and drivers sharing the road in such a winding 2 lane road, but I have very little experience with such things.

    1. I’m not sure of the speed limit in that exact section, but will pay attention to it Tuesday. It’s something between 35 and 55mph though. In general I feel pretty safe on Skyline; visibility is pretty good, the shoulders are decent, and you can hear cars before they’re upon you. There are also enough bicyclists around that motorists are beginning to assume that they could quickly come across them.

  6. Wow, incredible that you caught that on video and major props for doing what you guys did. I generally avoid Skyline as much as I can on weekends because of the speeding motorcycles… but man, that was scary.

    1. We were the first on the scene, so in a sense, we owned it and had to take responsibility until reinforcements arrived. I think most anybody would have done the same.

      Sure, memories of old TV shows like Mannix came to mind, where the car springs a leak and then bursts into flames, so you’re thinking you’d better size things up quickly because you might have to pull someone out of the wreckage quickly. But in no way do you feel like you’re risking your own life, nor do you question what you’re doing because this guy might have made road kill of you just a minute earlier. Whether that’s from adrenalin or just something built into us, I think it’s something that gives hope for humanity. We don’t have to be saintly to do the right thing. Karl went to the car, I tried calling 911 (which didn’t work so I joined Karl at the car), and Eric stopped traffic while trying to find a place his phone would work.

  7. Chances of a car fire are extremely slim, and you guys inadvertently did the right thing by leaving him in there since there was no immediate danger to his life. Due to the mechanism of injury, especially since you all somewhat witnessed it happen, EMS personnel would prefer you to leave extrication to them.

    Not trying to be critical, but just something to keep in mind in the future. I commend you guys for stopping and doing what you could for him. It sounds like all four of you were focused and determined to make sure he received appropriate care.

  8. As an engineer and an EMT, cars don’t burst into flames like the movies. If there is a fire, usually the engine compartment will catch fire at most and hopefully the firewall will slow that down from entering the passenger compartment. It’s generally better to not move the patient unless serious injury or death would result from not moving them. Gotta make sure that spine doesn’t take any more damage.

  9. That is scary. Nothing scarier than seeing cars going that fast by you up on Skyline! Just makes me cringe think about it. Way to stay cool about the rescue. Thanks for sharing! A very good reason to have a camera on the bike!

  10. So glad none of you were hit, and hope the car driver is ok. As a local landowner and as someone who learned to drive on Skyline, Kings Mountain Rd, Tunitas Rd, etc. etc. I’m continually amazed there aren’t more speed-related collisions & rollovers. Most people driving so-called performance vehicles haven’t had performance driving lessons. But even if they have, driving excessively fast on roads shared by all the various users is really foolish to say the least. When we bought our land we both agree not to ride our bicycles on Skyline (each to their own of course, but I “know too much” about how so many people drive Skyline; they come from all over to do so as you know!). We also both gave up driving motorcycles primarily due to too many near-hits with cars over the line, pulling out in front of us, etc. Thanks for helping the driver (no surprise there that you all would) and thanks to the EMTs for chiming in here. As may have been mentioned, also important not to give water or food to an accident victim in case of internal injuries. Take care out there…

  11. Seeing stuff like this has me wondering – are those helmet or handlebar cameras good enough that you can make out license plates? Some ass hit me six months ago – not a bruise, fortunately, but the guy got away ‘cos I didn’t get his plates while I was busy trying not to fall. Would have been nice to have had his numbers on video…

  12. I don’t understand why you are concerned bout this guy having a bad day?

    Cars are lethal weapons….how would you feel if he would have killed your training buddies or crossed over into a car filled with kids?

    The guys an asshole and I hope he looses his license.

    You guys were nice however and did the right thing by attempting first aid and calling for help.

  13. A couple years ago I was riding up Old La Honda with some friends. It was early Spring, foggy, cold, wet and dark

    A few of us had just reached Skyline and we waited for our friends to regroup. We stopped pretty far off Skyline waiting to see if we could see the rest of our group when we heard an approaching car. It was approximately 8:15 AM when we heard the roar of an approaching car it was so foggy we couldn’t see the car until it was right above Old La Honda.

    We were facing west as the car approached, from the left, on Skyline it tires shreiking as it power slid in front of us. Had we stopped further up where we usually do on clear days we would have been hit and most likely killed. The car was a late 1990′s BMW very similar to this one and it was probably going between 65 and 70 mph.

    This may even be the same guy. People that drive like this usually drive this way all the time and are over confident in their perceived ability to control their cars at speed
    taking risks at other peoples expense.

    I’m very glad that no one other than the driver was injured in this video.

    1. We didn’t do anything anyone else wouldn’t have. We just happened to be first on the scene and there were three of us, so we could split up tasks. It’s not something we gave any thought to at the time. The main initial concern was whether the car presented any danger to the guy inside. Fortunately, as has been echoed by several EMTs who have commented, cars don’t often blow up or even catch fire. Some have questioned how we could have helped after the guy could have killed us with his reckless driving, but that’s a battle for another day, and while I’ll admit to thinking at the time that this guy had been plain stupid, I wasn’t thinking that he deserved the end result. –Mike–

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