Saturday, October 09, 2010

Wine & Roses 2010

I was up early enough to see Orion come home from the hunt and Helios get his chariot out of the garage, which meant I got to see the golden hour just after dawn through the mist rising off my coffee in a Styrofoam cup.

Last time I did this ride, it was also beautiful. We started just after dawn then too, under a fresh rainbow. I knew the scenery would be just as good today, but October weather’s always a wild card until it happens.

We ended up with a gorgeous late harvest day, starting off crisp enough to call for a windbreaker, climbing to summer 80s (30° C) by the afternoon.

The Wine & Roses ride winds through vineyards and equestrian farms, olive orchards and open pastures.

The roads are never too challenging, but they roll up and down a little to keep things interesting, making this a great late-season ride, a carefree cap to a good year, a victory lap of sorts.

Bicycles are inherently discriminatory against anyone with more than two legs. If you have four legs, there are tandem frames, but I haven’t seen a good solution for those who articulate eight.

Still, this little friend was making pretty good time up the pavement. He ducked off into a vineyard later, staying out of thick brush and bramble. Autumn is mating season for tarantulas. I saw one last year too, on a different stretch of road. They’re amazing creatures, large as mice but less alarming, since they don’t scuttle and dart. Tarantulas promenade gracefully. All they need is a parasol to complete the image.

The wine country around Paso Robles has had a great late warm fall, after a cool, mild summer, nearly perfect growing conditions for the grapes. The grapes got plenty of sun but weren’t likely to starve for water or burn as they grew, and the winemakers have had the luxury of letting them plump out on the vine, adding flavor for a final few weeks before harvest, with no threat of rain or mildew from an early temperature drop. Most of the crop is off the vine by now, but a few vineyards were still wrapping up a relaxed harvest.

Far down in the valley below . . .

. . . is where you can see this road, which I’m about to swoop down onto.

The cows had it figured out.