Presidential bicycling

President Bush is the first U.S. president to avidly pursue bicycling while in office. Bush took up mountain biking when forced to give up running because of repetitive motion injuries.

In recent weeks, both journalists and Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong have ridden with the president.

Sal Ruibal, who is an experienced mountain bike racer who finished fifth in the Masters category at the 2002 World Championships of 24-Hour Solo Mountain Biking, rode with the president this month:
[T]he truth about the Biker-in-Chief is that the man can really ride. Over the course of a two-hour Tour de Crawford, Bush humbled every rider in Peloton One with a strong and steady pace over scorching hot paved roads, muddy creek crossings, energy-sapping tall grass and steep climbs on loose and crumbling rock. . . .

I started out riding next to him at the beginning of the ride, but when we left the dirt trails and hit the rolling asphalt the pace accelerated to more than 20 mph, which is pretty good for road bikes but absolutely blazing for heavier, knobby-tired mountain bikes. And did I mention that the only factor mitigating the mid-80s temperatures was a very strong headwind?

"I like speed," says Bush, who wore a red-white-and blue helmet and a Western-style bike jersey, complete with pearl snap buttons. His loose-fitting black shorts bore small rips from his crash in Scotland. "There's something exhilarating about heading down a hill at 35 mph on a mountain bike — or trying to grind up a hill at 9 mph." . . .

According to Freddie Fu of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Sports Medicine, one of the nation's leading orthopedic surgeons, boomers are suffering knee and other leg in juries brought on by years of pounding the pavement. Fu recommends that they take up soft-contact sports, such as cycling. Fu even sponsors his own cycling team.

"Riding a bicycle gives the cardiovascular benefits of running without the impact," Fu says.

Chris Carmichael, who coached Lance Armstrong to seven Tour de France wins, says the president is doing the right thing.

"He's a shining example of the benefits of having an active lifestyle," Carmichael says. "If you stay fit for all of your life, you can switch sports and also maintain a high level of performance."

Carmichael is familiar with the trend: more than half of the athletes who use his online coaching service are age 40 or older.
Reuters covered Lance Armstrong's ride with the president:
While many Americans wonder what attracts Bush to the Prairie Chapel ranch, where is he spending the month of August, Armstrong said he thought the biking opportunities were a big draw.

"He rides his mountain bike fanatically," Armstrong said in a recent interview with ABC's This Week. "It might be the mountain bike trails he has there."

Armstrong, 33, called Bush "one competitive dude," but said in the ABC interview he had no doubt he could outpace Bush, even though trails can be challenging for road cyclists unaccustomed to rough, rocky terrain.

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