Sunday, February 13, 2005

George W. Bush, Mountain Biker

I love this, Presidential hobby with a thrill:
Cancel the cozy days at Camp David. Put away the underused running shoes. When it comes to weekend enjoyment, all George W. Bush seems to need is some winding trails and a helmet.

And his mountain bike.

Besides burning calories at a 1,000-per-hour clip, cycling gives Bush an emotional rush that sometimes surpasses the one he got from running.

"He's obsessed with it," McKinnon said. "He now likes to do nothing but work out on his bike, and he does it with a frenzy that is reserved for people like Lance Armstrong."

Bush's face lights up at the mention of biking, a heart-thumping release from the stress of his job.

"There's an inherent danger in the mountain bike every time you get on it. It's one of those things where you have to concentrate on doing that at the moment - you can't be thinking about Middle East peace or the future of Social Security. In that sense, it's probably relaxing," said Lewis L. Gould, a retired University of Texas historian.

That appears to be the case for Bush, who isn't chatty during bike rides, save for what McKinnon calls "hoo-hahing" and "testosterone sort of towel-snapping remarks."

"He loves to do this because it gives him mental focus," McKinnon said, adding that "the more stressful things are ... the more he works out."
This article does a remarkable job of capturing the essence of mountain biking for fitness: the mental focus, stress release, danger, how it leaves the mind clear for the next work day, and how it can seem like an obsession.

The author of the article is a Baltimore Sun reporter named Julie Hirschfeld Davis. Based on a quick Google search, she seems to have good access to the White House. But I saw nothing in her background about mountain biking other than this one article.

To have written such an incisive article, she must be either a closet mountain biker, or a very talented reporter.

I wish I were on my bike right now!

(Hat tip, Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts mailing list via International Mountain Biking Association mailing list member Dave Scull.)