KAMAS The roads were well marked with signs warning motorists of a bicycle race taking hundreds of cyclists up and down the Mirror Lake Highway east of Kamas last Saturday. Several vehicles with flashing lights patrolled the highway to help monitor traffic and keep cyclists safe.
Police and witnesses say that wasn't enough, however, to prevent one angry motorist from taking out his rage on some of those pedaling up the mountain by trying to run one off the road and attack others in the group.
"The guy pulled up next to me and was already in a rage," Shane Dunleavy, an experienced cyclist on a training ride Saturday morning, said. "I heard from some other cyclists that said he swerved at them, too. When he started screaming out his window at me, I said something back about having a right to be on the road."
That only served to make the motorist more angry, and he turned his wheels into the cyclists, Dunleavy said, intentionally running over one of the bikes.
"He made a couple of swerves at me and was bumping into my knee," Dunleavy said.
With the side mirror threatening to knock him over, Dunleavy said he grabbed the mirror and pushed away to create more space. The mirror broke and the driver of the truck snapped, according to Dunleavy.
"He went nuts," Dunleavy said. "He gunned it right into us and knocked me over. I was dragged along for a little while and pulled my knees back just as he ran over the bike."
The bike, which was equipped with computer power gauges, carbon wheels and other high-tech gear, was broken into several pieces and is a total loss. Dunleavy, a seasoned racer on the local circuit, estimated the value of the bike at nearly $14,000.
After stopping, Dunleavy said the driver jumped out of the truck and ran around to continue his assault on the cyclists.
Patrick Fasse, who was Dunleavy's riding partner at the time, helped fend off the attacker. Other cyclists quickly arrived and also assisted, Dunleavy said.
Dunleavy and Fasse were not part of Saturday's 170-mile Tour de Park City race, but were traveling the same road getting a shorter workout while also supporting teammates competing in the race.
Aside from a serious scare, some bruises and scratches, Dunleavy said he is otherwise uninjured.
The motorist, Alexander Jason Barto, 41, Kamas, was arrested by the Utah Highway Patrol for investigation of aggravated assault. He posted bail and was released Saturday night.
Dunleavy said he may have to sue the motorist for the cost of his ruined bicycle. After talking with the insurance adjuster, the incident is considered a criminal act and not an accident.
"They'll cover accidents, but not something that was criminally intentional," he said.
The incident comes on the heels of a cycling death in Summit County a week ago. A Park City woman was found bleeding and unconscious on the side of the road in Browns Canyon. She died from her injuries. Though there was no indication a car was involved in that incident, it underscores the dangers of cycling even on roads with wide shoulders.
Dunleavy said he thought of that cyclist when thinking of his own incident.
"I don't know what happened there," he said. "But this wasn't a first time for me. Too many times, people in trucks and cars feel the need to get as close as they can and try to intimidate us. I've had people throw drinks and garbage at me when I'm riding."We have a right to be on the road. And other than a couple of seconds, we're really not slowing anyone down."