October 18, 2015 – Clouds, 65 degrees
Miles Today: 45
Miles to Date: 8,638
States to Date: 25
Welcome to my Silicon Valley Day. I was up early and off to a 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting – on a Sunday – with Piaw Na software developer, cycling enthusiast and how-to book author. Piaw lives in a modest million-dollar house in Sunnyvale with synthetic grass, Mandarin speaking in-laws, and two young boys as American as any I’ve met.
After a solid breakfast I headed up Foothills Expressway, one of the many cyclists in the weekend flow of pumping legs. They all passed me, of course, engineers on customized bikes with thin tires and competitive determination. I got to Stanford by noon and strolled the campus for an hour or so. Physically, Stanford is as much like Harvard as Silicon Valley is like Boston, which means they have nothing in common. Stanford is spread out and lush. I particularly liked the Rodin Garden next to the Art Museum, though the Gates of Hell are completely out of context in the bright California sun.
On my way back to San Jose I passed many of the major headquarters. I visited the Googleplex and enjoyed my lunch sitting in the shade in a bright Adirondack chair at their secondary campus. I pedaled by Cisco and Linked-in, Samsung, Adobe, and Avaya. I even rode past Apple’s mammoth new Norman Foster Headquarters in Cupertino. I’d seen renderings but didn’t quite realize why the circular form was so fitting to what everyone says is the most secretive of Silicon Valley companies. It will be a glittering fortress set apart from the 1200 square foot 1960’s ranch houses across the street.
From San Jose to Cupertino, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, Silicon Valley is a continuous, featureless environment of long slung buildings and immense freeways. People here are the maters of our electronic universe. They seem to have little interest in the physical reality around them.