San Francisco cyclist Anoush Zebarjadian remembers some of last year's sweeping GranFondo ride through west Sonoma County, the long push toward the coast and the hills that marked the ride.
But he has no memory of the SUV that knocked him from his bike and continued on, leaving him choking on his blood from serious head and facial injuries.
It took more than four months of recovery in Santa Rosa and San Francisco for Zebarjadian, 58, to get back to work full time, and even longer to regain his driver's license and get his structural engineering business back on track.
It will be a few weeks more — nearly a full year since the Oct. 9 collision — for him to again mount a road bike and take a street ride. That is expected to come by Oct. 1, when Zebarjadian makes his return to the GranFondo and the rural roads of Sonoma County, leaving behind months of training on a stationary bike and marking his recovery with the 7,500 other riders on the road.
"I'm looking forward to it. I feel OK," said Zebarjadian, from his home in the West Portal area of San Francisco.
The driver involved in the crime has not been caught. But word of Zebarjadian's return has cheered ride organizers and participants, who were concerned, then angered following last year's hit-and-run collision.
"Anoush is coming back. It's a tragic story but fantastic to be able to say," said Greg Fisher, editor of Bike Monkey magazine and an organizer for the annual charity ride, known as Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge GranFondo.
The injured man's return speaks to one of the core values of cycling: "...getting knocked down and getting back up again, with a value on getting up...(especially) after a tragic, malicious act like this," Fisher said.
"We are humbled by Anoush's determination."
The GranFondo is a tri-level ride started in 2009 by Leipheimer, a professional cyclist and Santa Rosa resident. The route runs from Santa Rosa to the coast and back and captures many of west Sonoma County's picturesque views, rolling hills and steep grades.
"I remember the start of the ride. ... It was a very pretty day," said Zebarjadian, who said he had been a serious road bike rider since 2005, putting in about 150 miles on weekends.
He recalls stopping for lunch at the top of King Ridge above Cazadero, the ride toward Bodega Bay and the climb up and over Coleman Valley Road.
"I remember that long ride up," he said, one rider among the 6,000 who participated that day.
As he tries to recall Graton Road, his memory of the ride stops.
He was heading east on Graton Road, legally traveling at about 30 to 35 mph in the middle of the lane when he was hit by a vehicle headed the same direction, CHP Officer Mike Phennicie said.
The impact threw the helmeted rider from his Cannondale carbon fiber road bike. He hit the ground about 100 feet from where he was struck.
Some riders told officers the driver of an SUV had been harassing cyclists prior to the incident by driving aggressively, said Phennicie, lead investigator.
But no one was able to tell officers if the driver was a man or woman. And no one got the license plate number.