more than just another bike blog

Friday, October 20, 2006

secret sculpture garden

I rode with a friend today who I haven't ridden with in ages. I've been sick since last week. I feel like I've got a cold except my nose isn't running. I'm still under the weather, but I wanted to give it a shot. She's a bit older, late 60s to be precise, and likes to ride slow, so I rode my cross bike with my cross wheels thinking that would put us at about the same pace. Worked pretty well.

I figured I had about 2 hours in me tops. When I rode Arastradero on Wednesday, everytime I climbed something I'd see stars and have to stop and lay down on the ground. I wasn't seeing stars anymore, but I still felt pretty weak.

We rode from my house out to Canada Road. I took her up Polhemus since she'd never climbed it. My friend just returned from France, where she had a lustful affair (her term, not mine). We chatted about France and bike touring and art. We made a quick stop into Filoli Gardens. I thought I could charm the guard into letting us enter, but he wasn't swayed by the fact that I had my jersey unzipped and what little clevage I have was showing.

So we continued south to Woodside. There's a little road off Canada with a hulking sculpture right next to 280. I seem to recall that at one point there were three sculptures. And I also remember that someone told me that there was an entire sculpture garden there somewhere.

So, we turned onto Runnymede Road and headed north. After about a mile, we saw a fenced property with a handful of amazing sculptures on the grounds. A woman was riding a horse and we asked her about it. She said it was private property (the sign said that too) and that we couldn't ride our bikes to the sculptures anyways. There was a gate but it was open. Not feeling gutsy yet, I suggested we keep riding to see where the road went.

At the end of Runnymede, we found the end of the Crystal Springs Trail, another San Mateo County Park trail that doesn't allow cyclists. Turning to the left, we climbed a road called Reymundo -- wow! Farms, wineries, mansions, and 20% grades. I had to stand and huff it up the hill. My friend decided to stop short of the top, but I had to see where the road ended. I hit the top, chatted with a red-tail hawk who was munching at the side of the road, descended the other side, and the road dead-ended at the north end of Huddart Park -- you guessed it, another no-bike park! So, back up the hill and then down to my friend to descend back to Runnymede.

So, as we returned to the mystery sculpture garden, the gate was still open. We interpreted this as our engraved invitation, so we rode right in, half expecting to be stopped by a guard immediately. But there was no guard to be seen. We continued on the road, passed a farm building, a smithy, and another half dozen sculptures.

These are some sculptures. They're HUGE -- probabaly at least three or four stories high. The grounds is filled with towering oaks and the sculptures all seem to be planted among them. My friend is an artist, and knew that these were all works of important contemporary artists. The only one I recognized was Keith Haring. My friend said there was millions of dollars of art on the grounds.

We continued onto a fire road that headed up another hill and then into an open meadow. There were another dozen pieces that simply took my breath away. But still no guard. We passed what looked like a banquet hall with a beautiful pool -- probably a space for special events. And more art!

At this point, I started getting nervous. What if someone shot us for trespassing? Or what if the gate was locked when we got back to the bottom and we were stuck in there? Then what would we do?

So we quietly rode down the hill, past the stables, the English farmhouse, the barn, and some of the most incredible art I've ever seen. I think I glimpsed someone inside the barn as we passed, but no one noticed us.

We rolled to Woodside, stopped for a quick bottle fill at Robert's, and continued on our way. Our plan was to ride south, grab a leisurely lunch somewhere, and probably take the train back to San Mateo. As we passed Larry Ellison's house on Mtn Home Road, we thought about stopping in to see if his gate was open too!

For the rest of the ride, we tried to guess what we'd seen on Runnymede. Was this an artists' retreat? A private residence? What a shame that all of this beauty is locked behind a gate for no one to appreciate. We couldn't stop chatting about our great adventure!

We dropped down into Palo Alto and stopped at Lulu's on Alameda de las Pulgas for lunch. I'd ridden by 100s of times but never stopped. Okay food, nice atmosphere if you like sitting outside watching the world go by. After lunch we rode to the Menlo Park CalTrain station and caught the train home. In the bike car, a woman who I couldn't place waved me over to sit by her. Turns out it was Jen Foxx from the Go Greenbelt ride in April -- small world.

Wow! I'm still fascinated with my secret sculpture garden -- the Runnymede Sculpture Park/Farm. check it out!


At 10/21/2006 7:06 AM, Blogger Flandria said...


At 6/06/2010 4:26 AM, Blogger Casey said...

When I was a teenager a group of friends and I snuck onto that property and were also blown away by the amazing sculptures. Years later we were told it was originally owned by the man who was well known for inventing the birth control pill. I have no idea it it's true but I'm glad I had the experience of wandering around the grounds even if it was completely illegal.


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