If by chance you are in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House at 8 a.m. Monday and you hear all those bicylists conversing in French, be assured it's a most friendly invasion.

A dozen French and Americans who combine an interest in bicycling and history are beginning a two-week, 400-mile trip tracking just a few of the places in the United States that honor the Marquis de Lafayette, the French hero of the American Revolution.

They'll start at Lafayette's statue in Washington and end their trek at Fayetteville, N.C., where they'll kick off the annual dogwood festival.

According to my colleague Paul Hodge, who is a bicyclist and lives not far from what is called the Lafayette house in Alexandria (where Lafayette stayed on a triumphal return visit to America), the group is being led by Dr. Andre Mas, a French cardiologist and historian.

Mas arrived Thursday leading a delegation of about 40, but only a half-dozen -- joined by an equal number of Americans -- will make the bike journey. Local bicyclists are welcome to escort them out of town. Others in the entourage will take a bus tour of Lafayette-related locations on the East Coast.

Hodge points out that at least 53 U.S. cities and towns and countless streets and squares, more than 15 of the latter in the Washington area, are named for Lafayette. So is Fayette County, Ohio, where I once worked for the local daily.