Silicon Valley’s Spandexed Biker Bros Are Going Extinct
This article is part of Into the Valley, a feature series from OneZero about Silicon Valley, the people who live there, and the technology they create.
For as long as anyone in Palo Alto can remember, every weekday at noon, dozens of tech workers, venture capitalists, local Olympians, and professional athletes make their way to the dead end of Old Page Mill Road. Here, they gather with a simple purpose: to ride bikes.
Since at least the ’70s, members of the so called Noon Ride have spent their lunch hours hammering through the foothills of Silicon Valley, trying to tear each other’s legs off, and on occasion, investing in each other’s startups. That is, if they can get their pitch in before the first climb up Arastradero Road.
The Noon Ride and other group rides like it have become a sacred tradition for tech workers in Silicon Valley. With its incredible roads, humbling vistas, and mild weather, the Bay Area is one of the best places to ride a bike in the United States, perhaps even the planet. And you never know who you might ride with: venture capitalist Randy Komisar is a Noon Rider, as is Olympian Linda Jackson. In 2005, Komisar called cycling a meritocratic sport for a new meritocratic industry, and the new golf of Silicon Valley. Networking was no longer a case of schmoozing with the right person, but suffering with them. Over the years, the golf comparison became a cliché, echoed in The Economist, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
But the Silicon Valley of 2020 is not the Silicon Valley of 2005. It has, in the local vernacular, scaled. No longer a land of plucky entrepreneurs with bold ideas, Silicon Valley has become the nesting ground of corporate giants. What was once an industry promising to disrupt society toward something better has led to a decade of worker exploitation, election interference, misinformation, and far-right radicalization.