French Fried Cycling Artist

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French fried.

That’s me. I’m French fried after four weeks in July at the Tour de France and then ten days in August on my own personal Tour de France, I’m fried. Cooked. Well done – and glad to be home. Glad to be back in my studio working. Glad to be back in my overly neglected garden. And very glad to be back on my bike with my Veloist Cycling Club friends.

Traveling has this great way of making you realize what you like and dislike about your everyday routine. Turns out I like most of what I do. Just another reason to be grateful. With the freedom and responsibility of running my own business I’m very accustom to routines and systems. Turns out I miss them when I travel.

Rock Star moments.

During my personal Tour de France in August with my wife, I was able to experience more of the artistic and cultural sides of France not connected to cycling. Having the opportunity to visit Monet’s home and studio in Giverny, outside of Paris was a thrill. Seeing where he painted his famous Water Lilly’s series and then seeing them in the Musée de l’Orangerie was a once in a lifetime experience for me. Kind of the art version of climbing the Alpe d’Huez if you know what I mean.

I saw the Mona Lisa at Versailles. Truly a rock star moment. So much so it almost felt disrespectful to be taking so many selfies with her. The price of fame I guess. She didn’t seem to mind as much as I did, she just sat there patiently looking back with a little smile.

Little drawings along the way.

Traveling with my wife Deb isn’t quite the same as being in the MoHo chasing the peloton. But I still have the need to draw something most days. What I’ve found is this hot trendy thing called Urban Sketchers, turns out I’m trending. Who knew.

Anyway the point of drawing at a location for me is more about spending time to absorb the smells and the vibe of a place. A photo with your iPhone takes seconds and then we move on. A drawing forces you to sit, look, consider and do. A drawing forces a place deeper into you because you have to make interpretations and think as you draw. I’ve been doing this for years. It was Deb’s first time, turns out she liked the extra few minutes we had just sitting and allowing the location to settle in. You should try it, with or without the drawing.

In 500 meters at the roundabout….

I couldn’t end my tours in France without a quick mention about driving there. Since I never drove the Motorhome during my trips chasing the TdF, chapeau to Gary and Keith, who did a great job navigating the thousands of miles we drove.

But while I did drive during my recent trip, In my opinion it turns out the French are very good at merging into traffic. They seem to obey the speed limits, although the hidden radar may have something to do with that. And they’re more respectful of your personal space in a car than they are in on the street. They just play nice on the road. I was even able to navigate my way around the Arc de Triomphe without incident. Take that Clark Griswold.

We’ll always have Paris.

I started this page saying I was French Fried. I am, at the moment. But I know I’ll be back. Maybe not right away but I will return after some time chasing the peloton elsewhere. Maybe Italy, or California, or even in the UK. But right now it’s Cyclocross Season and time to get dirty. Time for drinking Belgium beers, time for cowbells and mud. And time to say au revoir to France and Vive le Tour! Until next time.

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Michael Valenti is "The Veloist" - He is an avid cyclist and artist known for his Cycling Art work. Each year Michael chases the Pro Peloton at the Tour de France and other major cycling events. He is available for event and corporate cycling related projects as well as personal commissions for art.

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