French Kiss in Breckenridge will host Maribeth Clemente, author of “A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France,” today in celebration of the USA Pro Challenge and the store’s one-year anniversary.
“A Tour of the Heart” is a travel memoir love story set in France against a backdrop of cycling, which touches on the Tour de France, food and wine and the joys and headaches of travel, Clemente said.
“It represents a time in my life that occurred more than 10 years ago that serves as the bridge between my life in Paris and my life in Colorado,” she said.
Clemente went through a personal transformation at the time, going from a sophisticated life in Paris, where she didn’t do many outdoor activities, to a “more down-to-earth Rocky Mountain girl” life as a ski instructor in Telluride, she said. In between, she biked around France with her boyfriend, Pete.
“I did a 180 and grew a whole new me,” she said. “Traveling brings out the best of times and the worst of times in a relationship, and that’s what I wrote about. We go over the mountains and valleys of cycling in France and with our relationship.”
The book is about getting out there and testing your limits and trying something new, the author said.
“There were a lot of interesting juxtapositions in experiences in these travels,” she said. “I am knowledgeable about France; however, I went with a guy who didn’t speak the language and had never been to France before. There was an imbalance in power there. But when we got on the bike, he was in charge because he was the super cyclist and I was just a wannabe. There was this shift of who was holding the power, and I think that happens a lot in relationships, and that’s a universal theme that I think a lot of people can identify with.”
“A Tour of the Heart” is Clemente’s fifth book.
“This represents my departure from guidebooks,” she said. “It’s an adventure and there are a lot of themes: self-empowerment through sports — which I think people in Colorado are in touch with — also a lot of culture and gastronomy and history because I lived in France for so long and wrote four guidebooks, so I can write about France in a knowledgeable manner.”
The author’s promotional book tour around Colorado is timed with the USA Pro Challenge, and she said people who are into cycling or cyclists can relate to the story.
“My book, of course, highlights a lot of pro cycling and the Tour de France,” she said. “In addition to that, it’s what people experience both on and off the bike. Certainly, most of the people attending the USA Pro Challenge have some cycling experience and they know the thrill of making a big climb on their own and how that translates to their lives and relationships, and that’s a lot of what I explore in this book.”
One thing Clemente revels in throughout the “A Tour of the Heart” is the excitement of being at a bike race like the Tour de France or USA Pro Challenge.
“When they go by, it’s just this big swoosh, you feel the breeze, your hair blows,” she said. “The departure is really nice because you can walk around for an hour or so and see the cyclists and the team buses and get up close and personal with them and chat with them. It’s just such a great scene; I’m happy to be a part of it.”