Bastille Day Summary ... July 17th 2005
by Diane Goodwin

Richard Questel

Photos of Dan Finton and Diane Goodwin at Bastille Day

Bastille Day in NYC

French-American Chamber of Commerce

French Institute Alliance Francaise

Committee of French Speaking Societies, Inc.

French Tuesdays


I had scheduled a century ride for July 16 and 17th and advertised through New York Cycle Club ... due to my work hours extending into Saturday a.m., I was forced to cancel Saturday's ride. Because of this, Robin Massey of Frencht Institute was able to reach me on Saturday. At first, I thought she was another rider wanting to RSVP for Sunday's ride – "wow, another woman, I thought!"

Robin had gotten my number from Conrad's Bike Shop, NYC. She was looking for a cyclist to ride around the Bastille Day Festival here in Manhattan. John (owner of Conrad's) told her to look over in the bicycle club brochure area and she'll find a club to help her. Well, because our name was "French-sounding," NJ Randonneurs got the first call ... I agreed eagerly but would need to cancel Sunday's century. What a great match ... French holiday, Tour De France and Randonneuring.

With only a day notice, we were able to locate a "real replica of the yellow jersey," find a Frenchman (Richard Questel) to ride his bike AND answer questions at the booth we were given NO CHARGE, drive to Quakertown, PA to recover the NJ Randonneurs sign and create a small flyer to hand out.

One small problem was that I live in Bergen County, NJ where blue laws exist - stores (except food) are closed - including my Kinkos. I was able to convince Kinkos on 72nd St, NYC, to rush my job if I electronically sent a PDF. There was front store parking (on street) when I arrived and Kinkos already had the package waiting for me – lucky! I'm finding Kinkos to be quite friendly and efficient – more than when I lived in the City.

I stopped at my old neighborhood corner convenience store for coffee – noticed there were new stores on Columbus Ave – and then headed over to Park and Lexington only to find the road blocked. A policman let me through and I found a parking garage on that very street. Parking was going to be a problem especially since I forgot to ask a friend to help unload the car. Dan Finton agreed to help me but it would be 45 minutes until he would arrive. He was great to pick up last minute items (tape, rope, etc ...). Richard brought plastic later. Laurent Chambard, who was on a plane to Gold Rush, would have been the optimum person to help run the booth, as he is French origin and a true randonneur. Besides, he knows the history of Tour De France – the main purpose of our appearance at this festival.

Robin greated me with open arms and later, Bastille Day volunteers were sporatically coming up and thanking us for coming on such short notice. We were, like stars for them. Throughout the day, Richard was named "Father of Lance Armstrong." He was so funny ... signing autographs. Yes, people wanted his autograph! Kam and I were laughing. Maybe some had a little too much Red Bicyclette wine.

Our booth was pretty bare .. but Laurent contributed a French jersey and French cycling magazines. The RUSA jersey was on display and there were numerous inquiries of how to purchase it. I brought the "Long Distance" cycling book I got at PAC Tour. Also, I received a "Tour De France" book in the mail for review. Many people wanted that book – but I couldn't sell it as it was my only copy. Someone told me we were very attracting as there were many booths - the same, food, food and more food. It's safe to say 75% of the people passing our booth stopped. I was glad to have Dan, Kam, Christophe and Richard around to help. All were very knowledgable of randonneuring .. and Tour De France.

Eventually, Kam's friend, Andre showed up. He gave us the news of George Hincapie, his friend from childhood. Andre was at George's house earlier (this day was Stage 15 and George won it!) where calls were coming in constantly – from all over the world, especially Colombia, George's origin.

Richard's wife, daughter-in-law, and grandchild came by to say hello. Yola, Richard's wife, even tried out the Trek 5200 on the wind trainer. Yes, I brought the Trek at the last moment. I already had the Kickbike (thought it would attract attention) in the back seat. The Trek fit nicely as I thought it would –the week before we had David Mandelbaum's 54cm in the trunk. You see I just bought another car without racks – it's 2006 BMW and Thule doesn't make the racks yet ....yea, right! (how can BMW get Thule racks and bike stores cannot?)

The greatest moment was meeting Consul General of France, Francois Delattre. Robin Massey was so impressed by the willingness to participate and find them a cyclist, she made sure we were introduced. Robin really was great. Richard explained after Francois left who he was. So, we made sure to find him on his return past our booth and take a photo together.

I felt that our booth was pretty bare – compared to others – but between the signs, brevet medals, jerseys, books waterbottles, Kickbike, Trek, volunteers and enthusiasm ... no one noticed. Lots of people came up and "knew someone who rides alot."

It did torrential downpour a few times ... but the canopy given to us protected us well.

Best part .. we've been invited back for 2006 and are planning to coordinate some events for either 2005 or 2006.

Diane Goodwin