When you first encounter “Peloton Takes the Classic Curve” in its truly sublime setting on the point of Simonds Parkway you would never guess the rocky, sometimes perilous path it traveled to arrive there. Majestic Redwoods provide a lush backdrop to accentuate its colors. A thick carpet of welcoming grass invites the visitor to spread a blanket and watch as the sun casts the riders shadows in a sundial path. The elegant plaza design of soft grey squares floating above channels of dark lava rock (thank you Ruben Sierra!) complements the sculpture’s curves to dynamic perfection. It patiently waits on the course of the Redlands Bicycle Classic’s crowning Sunset Road Race for the racers to come whirring by.
We left the studio in the wee hours on installation day, driving beside the sunrise. On short notice Ruben’s crew had worked to the wire, like little (really big, strong) elves preparing the site. When we first saw it spread out before us in the clear, morning light I gasped. I was speechless, thinking I must be in a dream.
The sculpture stands 26’ long x 10’ tall x 10’ wide. It is comprised of water jet cut, 3/16” plate steel, painted with Montana Cans acrylic aerosol paint, and welded to 3/8” steel plate bases, with steel supports of varying sizes. The 5 bases support a total of 5 rider clusters and a total of 8 wheels. For those keeping score, the sculpture’s construction complies with California seismic requirements and can withstand 100 mph winds. The paints are rated to maintain their bright colors for many years. The bases are arranged for the riders to be viewed while traveling past the group so one sees that all riders will eventually appear to have two wheels under them at certain angles even though they may only have one wheel when viewed individually. Art is always a lesson in perspective!
The piece depicts nine riders out for a local club ride. Each rider has a name and represents some of the characters most cyclists would recognize from any group ride. “El Patron” and his “Lieutenant” are in the lead sporting matching blue club kits. “QOM” is still an amateur, but not for long! “Cat-Up” is drafting off the three of them, training hard to make Cat 2.
Rider “Prime Donna” is a local pro joining old pals in the off season. “Romeo” just joined a month ago and he’s pushing his limits to get Donna’s attention. “Fred” has settled in having grudgingly left his replica retro team jersey at home per “El Patron’s” request. “La Tourista” would be me, she rides mainly to be out in nature and catch a summit view. “Broomie”, poor gal, is always struggling to close the gap.
It was a long road indeed for the Peloton sculpture to triumphantly take the Classic Curve on the course of the Sunset Road Race in Redlands, California. The piece was originally commissioned by a an unscrupulous developer in order to satisfy a “1% for Public Art” requirement that got tangled up in the corruption of Rancho Cucamonga. The sculpture survived mishandling, willful damage and alteration, fraud, threats of destruction, multiple moves and a 3-year legal battle to arrive home again at the Fire Garden Ironworks studio in Bonsall, CA where it was first fabricated. Once there, Metal Artist and Welder Tony D’Aula, Project Manager Jerry Page, and I, set about applying the TLC. All of our riders were in need of R&R, while the grupetto required some serious rehab. As you can see, they all regained their fitness, rallied, and crossed the finish line in style, colors flying.
In breathtaking contrast, the experience with the City of Redlands could only be described as a fairytale come true. A long-standing relationship with the Classic, forged primarily with the incomparable Scott Welsh, would open up a wide path to finding the Peloton the perfect home! The timing was tight as the perfect site was only determined within weeks of the RBC’s opening day. The speed with which the different agencies worked to make it happen was miraculous! Redlands is a special place. It’s so refreshing to work with a community where leadership, officials, organizers, volunteers and citizens are focused on possibilities and positive outcomes. “Yes!” Is heard a lot there. The whole town is so supportive and integrated into every aspect of the annual cycling festival that the visiting cycling community feels its welcoming embrace.
The collaboration of Mayor and City Council, City Manager, Arts Commission, Public Works, and Redlands Bicycle Classic Organizing Committee was a wonder to behold. Special thanks are due to QOL Field Services Supervisor Erik Reeves, Assistant City Manager Chris Boatman, and Editor and former councilwoman Toni Momberger. It may sound hyperbolic, but in a 35-year career in public art I’d never experienced a process so elegant and results oriented! Bravo Redlands! Long live the Classic! See you next year!