My Neighbor, The Biker: Part 1

biker gang riding to napa

Few things will get your heart racing quite like hearing the explosive pipes of a Harley Davidson speeding past your car on the highway. It comes out of nowhere: silence one moment, then a bowel-rattling sound that nearly rips your face off. Then it’s gone, leaving you with nothing but residual road rage and the hankering for a Valium.

But I’m used to it now.

Every day for the past two years, as I slogged home through traffic on Napa’s dreaded Highway 12, I’ve been passed by a lone biker, to the point where I came to expect his arrival every late afternoon around 5:30pm. He’d thread his way between the two lanes with all the thunder and fury his chopper could muster, ostensibly on his way home to the wife and kids. I haven’t seen him for the past month or so, however, as I’ve not driven that particular stretch of highway…because I recently joined the dumpster-diving ranks of the Welfare Succubus Class when I was unceremoniously told to go fuck myself running by my previous employer.*

Yesterday, as I made my way home from a job interview in Saint Helena, I’ll be damned if my neighbor, the biker, didn’t pass my car again. How do I know it’s the same guy? Because he flies the colors of his motorcycle gang on the back of his leather vest: Dirty Whites/NorCal. And I couldn’t help but think, as he rumbled down the highway the way he had for months, that this guy had to work in wine country. Maybe he drives a forklift in a wine warehouse? Or perhaps he works a bottling line? I mean, even bikers have to earn a buck, right? And though there are lots and lots of bucks in, say, narcotics, setting up a meth lab in Yountville just doesn’t strike me as a cost-effective business practice.

And that’s when it struck me: why did I assume his job had to be blue collar? Was my upper-middle class, cis, white-male bias showing? Maybe Mr. Dirty Whites was Director of Business Development for Staglin Family Vineyards? Or perhaps Tasting Room Manager at Bond? (“This Cabernet has tannins as powerful as four-foot flames coming out the back of your tail pipe.”).

Which made me feel a bit shitty. Was I judging this guy – who’s obviously a member of my community – simply because of the way he looks? Isn’t that a huge problem with what’s going on in our society today in general? Am I really…that guy? Judge Thy Neighbor Guy? So, I decided to do what everyone does when they face a crisis of conscience: consult the Internet. And what I found was, well, unusual:

Motorcycles in Napa Valley are featured on the pairs with life blog

Wait…Party Planner? Is that what the kids are calling it these days or am I missing something? And what about this guy with the Four-Star Review? Is he now in a hole in the desert, no one the wiser? More research was definitely needed.

So, they have a Facebook page:

The Facebook page for Dirty Whites Norcal MC

Good Sign: Anyone can see who’s in the group, so nothing to hide there.

Bad Sign: “Brotherhood” can be one of those Red Flag Words, as in, “This Is A Melanin-Free Zone.”

Or – OR – it could mean Brotherhood.

So, look. Is it easy to stereotype a biker? Sure it is. Is it wrong to stereotype a biker? It damn sure is. Am I the asshole? Maybe.So, I think I’m going to have to do what the situation calls for: I’m going to have to show up to the Dirty Whites Party Planning Headquarters in Fairfield, introduce myself, and see for myself. I’ll keep you posted…

Not Judging A Biker By His Vest Pairs With: Champagne Le Nombre D’ Or, L. Aubry Fils a Jouy-les-Reims.

As you don’t judge a book by its cover, you don’t judge a wine by its label: you have to taste it first. Same should go for bikers, I suppose (although you may want to ask first before tasting).

The point is that Christine received this bottle as a thank you from a friend of hers, who said it was his favorite champagne. I have friends. I love my friends. My friends are awesome. Maybe one of them can be trusted to pick a great wine. So, this bottle stayed in the fridge for a good, long while, until the hankering for bubbles became so unbearable she whipped it out (and shared it with me).

OH MY GAWD THIS DUDE WAS RIGHT. I’d never heard of L. Aubry Fils, never seen this label before (and in all honesty, wasn’t impressed with the label aesthetically) but hot damn did this champagne blow me away. Fine bubbles? Check. Creamy mouthfeel? Check. Bright acid and lingering finish? Check and check. Blended from 25% Chardonnay, 25% Arbanne (yeah, I don’t know either), 25% Petit Meslier and 25% Pinot Blanc (probably the Alsatian influence, which is alright by me), the fruit on this elegant beauty is bold, surprising and yet refined. I found bottles at First The Wine in California for only $40, so load up the saddlebags on your Harley while you can.

*I was not told to fuck myself. Nor did I run. And I don’t dumpster dive. Unless there are donuts involved.

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