What appears below is a column I wrote for this paper more than 27 years ago.
The title refers to a bicycle race held in May 1989, which went from Albany to Atlantic City in ten segments. Trump had big plans for this race: “This is an event that can be tremendous in the future, and it can really, very much rival the Tour de France,” he told NBC.
As we all know, it never did. But it did briefly give New Paltz a little bit of fame, because the first of its ten segments ended here.
I was a town councilman at the time, and embarrassed by the VIP treatment I thus received. As you can imagine, many in New Paltz were not happy with the race coming through our town. I was one of them. There were protests. As an elected official I couldn’t actually join the protesters, but as a humor columnist I could. So here’s what I wrote way back then:
I am writing this just a few hours before the big moment, when that first bicycle will cross the finish line in the first annual (which could, of course, be the last annual) Tour de Trump International Unbelievable Incredible Bicycle Race. All kidding aside, I am excited. My countless hours of public service as councilman are finally paying off: I have a “VIP” tag and can, if I want, sit on the reviewing stand.
Of course, before I can do that, I have to do deal with a problem all of us face as we contemplate going to this big event, the problem that plagues America from New York to California, a problem that dwarfs all the other issues; namely, where will I park?
But the really big question that everyone is asking is, will he be there? You know who I mean. Donald. If he does come, how will he get here? The rumors are flying fast and furious. Some say he’ll bike in. Others say he’ll come by helicopter. Maybe he’ll come on his yacht. I think he’s going to fool everybody and get here the way most of us do: the Trailways bus.
I have to admit that Donald Trump intrigues me. I confess I don’t know him very well, never having met him, but I do get the feeling that he has a relatively large ego. The reason I suspect this is that he seems to want to have his name on everything he is connected with. There is Trump Tower, and Trump Plaza, and Trump Castle, and a new board game called Trump something, and now, there is the Tour de Trump. If he ever buys the Eastern Airlines shuttle, it will no doubt be called the Trump shuttle.
I’m a psychologist, so when I see behavior like this I ask why. I think it is because of some lack in his childhood. I’m pretty sure that’s the reason he has devoted his life to making more money than anyone in the history of the world. Little Donald Trump, age six, was probably a sweet, passive child until one day he asked his parents for a raise in his 25 cents-a-week allowance and they said no. This is how it happens. The rage of a six-year-old is translated into insatiable ambition.
On the other hand, who knows? Maybe he was born that way. Maybe at the age of six, he bought a friend’s treehouse, fixed it up, and sold it for a 100% profit.
Of course, I’m only kidding. I once heard his wife, Ivana, say on television that if someone was nice to her husband, he would be great to them. But if someone wasn’t nice, he would more or less try to destroy them. So I want to say loud and clear, here and now, Donald Trump is okay!
By the way, his wife’s name was not originally Ivana. It was Erika. She is from some European country (I forget which). And she kept saying things like, “Ivana hotel, Ivana a yacht, Ivana casino, Ivana bike race” – until finally people started calling her Ivana.
But back to the bike race. It really should be exciting. I have heard that going down hills, the racers sometimes reach speeds of 60 miles per hour. I’m nervous when I drive that fast. But they do have the advantage of wearing a helmet, which I rarely do when I drive.
Bicycle racing is a European import. After years of our ideas becoming big in Europe – such as rock and roll music – European-type stuff is starting to become popular here. For some reason Ulster County appears to be attracting things French. Not only is there Tour de Trump (modeled, I suppose, on the Tour de France), but there is also talk of a theme park called Parc Europe. Mon Dieu!
Actually, these bicyclists don’t seem to have that much sense. They’re coming from Albany, right? So why go over all those hills and dales, with dangerous turns? Why don’t they just take the Thruway?
I’d better wrap this up. I’ve got to start getting ready to go to the festivities. By the way, what do you wear to an international bike race?
I hope Mr. Trump arrives, because I would like to meet him. He really could, if he wanted, help our town out financially. As far as I’m concerned, if he offers $30 million, I’d be willing to change our name to New Trump. For 10 million, I don’t think any of us would object to our new school being called Trump School.
And if he just wants to give us $2 million, to buy land for and set up a new landfill, then I’d have no problem at all calling it the Dump de Trump.
Just kidding, Your Majesty, sir.
(Note: Donald Trump didn’t come here. I guess he had bigger plans for his future, and sensed that our town probably wouldn’t be part of them.)