Riding down a country road west of Templeton with four new friends, as we passed by the grape rows of Venteux Vineyards I was grinning like an idiot at my good fortune.
I joined the start of the ride at Mike’s house in Templeton, after having heard about his Tuesday morning amble during the Sunday ride. Mike is a retiree from Raytheon, like me, and also like me, he started working there back in the day when it was the privately owned Hughes Aircraft Company (small world department, part 1). I got to Mike’s house at the same time as Alan, a retired lawyer from New York City who happens, JUST HAPPENS to know my friend Alan Geiger, from his days riding in Central Park (small world department, part 2). A few minutes later Gary and Oscar joined us and off we rolled, leading to my grin just a mile down the road.
You might ask, why? The idiot grin, that is. Well, this moment and all the good stuff that has led to being in it. Allow me to enumerate just a few of the reasons – I have been able to live at the beach in Southern California for over 30 years while working at well-paying IT jobs in the aerospace business no more than 8 miles away from home, therefore not having to commute on LA freeways for the entire time. I got to ride my bike for decades in lovely places like Palos Verdes, the Santa Monica Mountains, and various other mountain ranges surrounding LA, with only a few crashes and road rashes. I bought property in Redondo Beach 30 years ago, and it has allowed me, in my retirement, to leverage into multiple properties here in the central coast wine country. And today I am rolling down hilly country lanes under azure skies among beautiful vineyards, wineries, orchards and farm fields.
Over the course of 30 miles, these are the wineries we rode past – Venteux, PasoPort, Hunt, Red Soles, Shale Oak, Chateau Margene, Roxo Port, Oso Libre, HammerSky, Stanger, Thatcher, Whalebone, Halter Ranch, Lone Madrone, Adelaida, Daou, Carina, Villicana, Nicora, Alta Colina – nearly an embarrassment of bottled riches. People fly across oceans to do rides like this in France and Italy, but it’s just down the lane from where I live now. You might grin like an idiot too.