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Berkeley cyclist missing, help sought from community

Anthony Michael Martin (left), known as Michael, who is missing after cycling in the Berkeley-Oakland hills on Saturday

Berkeley resident Anthony Michael Martin has been reported missing after going on a bike ride on Saturday which took in Tunnel Road in Berkeley. His friends and family are asking the community for help finding him.

The 29-year-old Martin, who is known as Mike as well as Michael, and was formerly a professional cyclist, was reported as missing to the Berkeley Police Department at 10:45 pm on Saturday by his girlfriend, Amaya James, 29, of Berkeley, after he failed to return home, according to Sgt Mary Kusmiss of the Berkeley Police Department.

James spoke to him on the phone earlier that day, and they were meant to meet for dinner at 8:00 pm on Saturday.

A cyclist found Martin’s cellphone on Tunnel Road, close to the Oakland Fire Memorial on Saturday afternoon and returned it to James.

Sgt Kusmiss said the challenge for the police is how to conduct a search in such a potentially large geographic area. “Martin could have taken any number of directions from Tunnel Road,” she said. In order to use assets such as search and rescue resources or dogs, the police would need at least a starting point, she said.

The BPD has taken the standard steps of checking with hospitals and coroners’ offices and sending out a state-wide missing person e-flyer. The potential area where Martin may be found covers five police jurisdictions — Berkeley, East Bay Regional Parks, UC Police, Oakland and Contra Costa — although Kusmiss said this is not an issue.

Kusmiss said the actions already taken by Martin’s friends to alert the media are very helpful. Equally useful are reports from community members who are perhaps driving the cycling routes such as Grizzly Peak and Skyline and see somthing out of the ordinary, she said.

“We have no clues or leads. Anything that someone sees, however insignificant — it could be a skid mark, broken brush or a key in the road — could be very helpful information,” she said.

James also reported that Martin had been on a diet which involved some fasting so there is a possibility that he may have been physically weaker than usual.

Martin is described as 29 years old, six feet tall, slender, with brown hair and brown eyes, according to Oakland North which published an alert early this morning.  The article goes on: “If he went missing while cycling, his friends believe he would be riding a fluorescent green and white road bike and be wearing street clothes, a grey and blue helmet, white cycling shoes, and possibly be wearing a blue Mountain Hardware backpack.”

Anyone with information which could be useful in the case is asked to call the Berkeley Police Department at (510) 981-5900.  (Reporters wishing to get more information on Mike can contact friends who are searching for him at 916-910-5588.)

Update, 9:45 pm: NBC Bay Area has an interview with Martin’s girlfriend, Amaya James.

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  • C.S.

    Something is odd about this story. First, from someone involved in cycling competition at an elite level since the mid 70s, I am suprised not to recognise the name or face of this person. He is 20 years younger than me, and I can’t know everyone, still it’s puzzling. I’ve searched quite a bit, and find no trace of him as a pro cyclist. This makes a difference in terms of locating him, because it relates to the community that he is involved with. Also, in terms of community, what does he do? Is he employed? Are there other community activities that he is involved in?
    The article and information from the police are lacking in a number of ways that limit their utility in locating this person. There is no mention of the timeframe for the begining of the ride, or where he departed from. Which side of the road was the phone found on? That would tell me if he was going to, or from, Berkeley when it was dropped. If he was in cell tower range, there should be a record of the cell tower pings. If it’s a smart phone, then there may be some GPS breadcrumbs.
    If this guy was a pro cyclist, then there should be lots of photographs of him on the bike, and likely, video as well. Most cyclists wouldn’t recognize someone that they know on the bike when standing face to face with them in street clothing, so a cycling photo is crucial. I was riding in the area that day and would probably remember if I’d seen him on the road, given a photo of him on the bike. I don’t understand why the photo published is not one of him on the bike.
    If he has any ties to a cycling community, then someone can tell us exactly what he was riding. Cyclists know each others bicycles quite well, and they are as good as a fingerprint to a cyclist. If there is anything, even slightly unusual or distinctive, about his bike, or manner of dressing for a ride, then a rider who caught sight of him on the road would remember him.
    What is the make and model of the bike?
    What brand and model are the shoes and helmet?
    Was it usual for him to be riding in street clothes? This is not usual for most cyclists, unless they are commuting. If he was commuting, then what was the destination?
    If he had simply left the road at some point, then stop considering every place with in the likely radius. If he is off the road and injured and unable to reach the road, then he is down a ravine. That means Grizzly Peak, Skyline, Pinehurst, Wildcat.
     
    If the purpose of this report is to solicit help from the readership, and not just gather clicks, then we need as many of these questions answered as possible.

  • TN

    There’s some more info in the report posted by the Berkeley Patch.

    Specifically that report says: “Mike, whose family lives in Florida, is an active member of University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley and has worked at the nanofabrication laboratory at UC Berkeley.  He is six feet tall, slender, and has brown hair and brown eyes.”

    http://berkeley.patch.com/articles/search-for-missing-cyclist-continues

  • http://twitter.com/Irmtraut Irmtraut Zoerb

    CS – here is a link involving a Mike Martin and bicycles in San Francisco. I have no way of knowing if it is the same man. http://www.stranger-mag.com/features/life/burning-rubber.html

  • Anonymous

    “First, from someone involved in cycling competition at an elite level
    since the mid 70s, I am suprised not to recognise the name or face of
    this person. He is 20 years younger than me, and I can’t know everyone,
    still it’s puzzling. I’ve searched quite a bit, and find no trace of him
    as a pro cyclist”

    The important thing is he’s missing.  There’s his picture.  Have you seen him? 

  • http://www.davosnewbies.com lknobel

    Good questions, CS. We have a call in to the friends who are searching. We’ll see if we can get further details along the lines you suggest. 

  • http://www.davosnewbies.com lknobel

    Here’s what looks like a reference to Martin’s professional cycling, with the First Solar team: http://www.solarcycling.org/racing/team-time-trial-victory/

  • Asher

    Thanks so much, C. S. These are excellent questions that should be addressed in any thoughtful article. Proofreading for grammar and spelling in the main Berkeleyside article above would also have been great.

  • C.S.

    Imagine he is in a Batman costume and you are trying to identify him…  this is what a cyclist with a helmet and glasses is like, you can’t see the hair or eyes.  I can’t tell you who is under the mask, but I can tell you if it’s Batman, Superman, or the Green Hornet. And I might just remember when and where.

    A cyclist sees the man and machine as one.  I need to picture that package in my mind’s eye.  I have a record in my mind of virtually every cyclist I’ve ever encoutered on the road or in a race.  It’s one of those essential skills for success in competitive cycling.

    So, as you say, ‘there is his picture. Have you seen him?’  Well, if we are looking for him at the prom, then I’ll tell you, but as he was on a bike, I can’t.

  • http://berkeleyside.com Tracey Taylor

    Asher: A reporter can only report the information that is available to him/her after making all the necessary investigations. 

    In this case, we sourced information directly from the BPD, including a photograph, referenced an article which had some additional details, and put in a call to the friends of the person in question which has not yet been returned.Much as we would like to provide the sort of information raised by CS, we can’t.We are keeping on top of the story, however, and will update readers as soon as new information is available.Please let us know where you spot grammatical or spelling mistakes in the story and we will correct them.

  • berkopinionator

    Search the areas near the sharp downhill turns.

  • berkopinionator

    Search the areas near the sharp downhill turns.

  • Berkeleyborn

    Tunnel Road-if he crashed, he could still be alive but unable to get up hill from the crash site. Start from the top and work down on the downhill side. Divide the road into ~10 1 mile sections with teams covering each section looking downhill with binos. You don’t need dogs to do this-friends can organize this over facebook and make it happen. Other place to look is up/down road on Hiller and downhill side of road going towards steam trains. And Grizzley Peak. From Grizzley Peak down to Strawberry Canyon-check down hill-this is a small area considering search is all reachable by road, within 200 feet of the road.

  • Barbara Y

    More info on this story here:
    http://www.kqed.org/a/kqednews/RN201107051304 – includes this description of his bike and clothes: “a green and white road bike with a grey and blue helmet, white cycling shoes, regular street clothes and possibly a blue backpack”

    News videos including interviews with his girlfriend here:

    http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_18414382

    http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Bicyclist_Missing_in_Berkeley_Bay_Area-125053419.html

     

  • Jim Feeley

    C.S. might be acting a little pushy, but I basically agree with him. I ride and used to race, know lots of other riders and largely identify them by their bike and how they look on it. I rode on Saturday and saw lots of other riders, some I recognized by sight. I casually searched the USA Cycling and Strava websites, but didn’t easily dig up anything clearly about him. And not to be a jerk, but for what team did he race professionally? I’m acquainted with some of the local pros (and with lots of the local amateurs), but don’t recognize the name. That means nothing; I’m just a guy on a bike. But since his phone was found on Tunnel (a road cyclists frequently travel over), I might know someone who knows him and/or saw him Saturday (regardless of what he was wearing that day). The family must be distraught, but a picture of him on his bike (or a bit more info/description of his cycling past and current bike) might help track down leads. I know Berkeleyside’s just reporting what they learn… but the type of info CS asks for could help generate more leads. –Jim

  • Berkeleyborn

    Great-you and CS seem like fast, great bike pro riders-rather than tell us about that here at Berkeleyside, put on your gear and bike up Tunnel road early on Tuesday and do the loop and look for him. If you are feeling really energetic, hit the bears all the way to Happy Valley Road and beyond, maybe down Centennial or by UC Reserve towards Claremont…as cyclists, you know the best routes and the most hazardous turns where cyclists can get launched off the road or hit by cars-report your findings by i-phone/etc to BPD/Berkeleyside….I used to ride and race too but that isn’t relevant and honestly, I’m now to fat and out of shape to make the rides I used to on a daily basis in this area…

  • Jim Feeley

    Your anger is misplaced, and your anonymity off putting. My point, clearly made I believe, is that CS, I, or someone one of us knows may very well have seen something useful. And a little more information would help us determine that.  

  • Local Cyclist

    I organized a small cycling search party on Tunnel this afternoon.  CS’s earlier comments are spot on.  Those of you savaging him do not know what you’re talking about.
     
    There are a number of problems with any volunteer searches.  Although I called BPD to try to get more precise and up-to-date information before we set out, I was unable to get more specifics about exactly where the phone was found.  Often in the media, cycling related incidents are reported as being near a known landmark or crossroad, when in fact the actual incident may have happened a fair distance away (even a hundred yards makes a big difference and it could easily be more like ¼-1/2 mile away).
     
    If you wanted to search the shrubbery below lower Tunnel, it is very dense and the hill is mostly quite steep.  There is a fair amount of poison oak visible also, so be prepared for that.  Arriving by bike (as we did) and riding slowly while peering off the road, stopping occasionally for a closer look was not ideal or all the effective.  I think coming by foot, well dressed with heavy garden or work gloves, possibly with a small hedge clipper in hand to cut thorough some brush, plus sturdy hiking boots would be more useful than on a bike (but be prepared for poison oak).  Maybe even some ropes and harness if you have that equipment and know how to use it properly.
     
    Lower Tunnel Road where the phone was supposedly found (especially around the Fire Garden) is relatively flat, would be fairly well trafficked by cyclists and motorists in both directions on a warm, pleasant, midsummer holiday weekend evening (the ride may have been around 6-7pm).  There is a steep downhill grade off one side of the road, but it’s in the uphill direction and there’s a metal barrier running along the edge of the road.  While it’s possible (in theory) that someone coming down Tunnel might somehow cross over the entire road into the oncoming lane and “launch” over the barricade on the side of the road and disappear into the shrubbery down below, the likelihood of the bike completely vanishing too in that already unlikely scenario  is very small.  If you were coming down Tunnel too fast and lost control (or even swerved to avoid a car), centrifugal force would tend to throw you into the uphill side of the road where most of the sharper turns lean towards which is pretty much fully exposed.  You and your bike could not disappear totally in that circumstance (without some type of follow up agency or foul play). 
     
    One news report I saw included an interview with his gf and it sounds like he may have been distraught and intended to leave California soon.  There may be more to this story than just a guy who crashed his bike and vanished.    I hope he is found safely soon, especially if he voluntarily “disappeared”.

  • berkopinionator

    The police, or someone should fly a helicopter or small plane over the area and use the infrared detector at night.

  • http://collectivesites.com James

    This post on reddit about someone being mugged and forced into a car Sunday night on College had me thinking about this missing cyclist. http://www.reddit.com/r/berkeley/comments/ige1r/kidnapped_and_robbed_on_college_last_night/ 

    I hope he turns up ok.

  • Anonymous

    Probably not him, and entirely different bike culture (wrong tribe for this guy).

  • Anonymous

    Point taken on the gear. I was floored by the note of skepticism as to
    whether the chap had ACTUALLY been a pro cyclist.

  • Pcnotpc

    After years of experience, the Contra Costa Sherriff and East Bay Parks Dept should have a map showing the corners where accidents happen (motorcycle, car, and bicycles).

  • http://www.facebook.com/aglimme Aaron Glimme

    Interesting update:

    Community Members,City of Berkeley Public Information Officer (PIO) EMAIL UPDATE Missing Cyclist – Anthony Michael Martin of Berkeley July 6, 2011The City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) detectives have confirmed a sighting of Anthony Michael Martin with his bicycle in the City of Roseville, CA. from a credible source as recently as yesterday. (July 5, 2011) Mr. Martin did not appear to be in distress and as a adult, he is legally allowed to make the choices he has made. Since this is no longer a primary police matter, but a private matter, we feel that it is not appropriate to expose to the public.BPD investigators have advised Mr. Martin’s girlfriend and family of the developments. Although BPD is no longer considering Martin to be a “Missing Person” and that he has voluntarily left the Berkeley area, we will continue to work with other Law Enforcement agencies in an effort to speak to him directly.Thank you for your interest in this story and your support in getting the word out.

  • Berkeley5960

    Well, he isn’t missing anymore:

    This from the BPD:

    City of Berkeley Public Information Officer (PIO) EMAIL UPDATE Missing Cyclist – Anthony Michael Martin of Berkeley July 6, 2011The City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) detectives have confirmed a sighting of Anthony Michael Martin with his bicycle in the City of Roseville, CA. from a credible source as recently as yesterday. (July 5, 2011) Mr. Martin did not appear to be in distress and as a adult, he is legally allowed to make the choices he has made. Some of the details of this confirmation and methods of locating him are ones that we would prefer not to share as they may compromise efforts in other/future investigations. In addition, since this is no longer a primary police matter, but a private matter, we feel that it is not appropriate to expose to the public.BPD investigators have advised Mr. Martin’s girlfriend and family of the developments. Although BPD is no longer considering Martin to be a “Missing Person” and that he has voluntarily left the Berkeley area, we will continue to work with other Law Enforcement agencies in an effort to speak to him directly.Thank you for your interest in this story and your support in getting the word out.

  • Ahanotherplanet

    so pretty much he just wasted everybody’s nerves and time. what a dick.