Naked trees and iron pigs.

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There’s just something about a naked tree that makes me smile. It’s not that I love the winter so much as it is more difficult to ride but I do love the stillness that happens in winter. And the quite. I ride a lot on a little farm road near my home, Crawford Road. Its just a few miles long and the southern half is open to very little local traffic, mostly farm tractors. The northern half of the road is closed with gates on both ends saying “Road Closed”. So I just walk around them to continue riding.

Crawford Road south end_valenti

Most of the road is very old back-top that has disintegrated over the years into a series of potholes and exposed gravel patches. The rest of it is mud and clay along with more potholes created by the heavy farm machines. But the upside is I hardly ever see a car on the road, maybe twice a year a local goes by slowly, so as not to trash the car.

Junction Crawford and WG_valenti

As you ride north on Crawford when you get to the end of the farm road part it crosses Illinois Route 173 and continues on for another couple of miles before ending on Road WG, which is the Illinois and Wisconsin border road. The photo above was taken there. In spring it’s lime green, in fall it’s bright yellow, today it was naked.

So with a little right, left jog I get on to County Road MB. A very, very well known and heavily ridden road that continues for miles north into Wisconsin. A lovely road for the roadies. And on a Sunday morning very little traffic.

vineyard on Crawford Road_valenti

Oh, so back to the naked trees and cast iron swine. Well one thing that happens with me on a ride, and more so in winter, is I slow down and take more pictures. I know, how much slower can I go you ask, well that’s another conversation. I take pictures of the mailboxes, fences, trees with no leaves all laid bare and exposed to the elements. Simple little images that can tell the story of a ride, the story of the road and area. I happen to think where I live is quite beautiful in it’s own way. Simple, resilient, enduring. Maybe it’s because I was raised in Massachusetts where many homes and rock fences have withstood the test of time.

Crawford Road north_valenti

And what those big old naked trees really make me think about is how complicated and beautiful the part of the tree you don’t see must be. As we all know the roots of the tree run deep under the earth to form a similar pattern and shape as the upper branches to. Picture that in your mind next time you see a big naked tree – there is another big naked tree upside down right underneath it. Right.

naked trees_valenti

So I take photos of little things you don’t always see in summer because we tend to ride with our heads down focusing on the wheel in front of us or our computers. Take a moment and look up this winter, look at the big naked trees and maybe you’ll find something to take a picture of. I hope so because there is a lot of beauty out there in your everyday life. Go find it.

happy cyclist_valenti

I don’t ride more than you, I don’t ride faster than you but I don’t miss a thing – if you like that find me on Strava and come along for my rides. I’d love to have you along.

Enjoy the ride. Michael

If you enjoy reading more about my thoughts and cycling adventures check out “Chasing the Peloton”

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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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