Bush gets riding gear for Christmas

US Prez gets custom shoes, jacket from wife

While many mountain bikers were rubbing their hands with glee at a shiny new frameset this Christmas, some enthusiasts were making do with more modest gifts.

US President George W. Bush, a keen mountain biker, was unwrapping a new jacket and custom vacuum-sealed Shimano mountain bike shoes, presented by First Lady Laura Bush Tuesday morning.

Speaking on Christmas Day, the First Lady’s spokeswoman Sally McDonough said: “For the President, Mrs. Bush is helping to outfit him for cold weather mountain biking with a new (jacket) and (custom shoes).”

Bush’s popularity ratings have plunged since the Iraq affair, but he’s won plus points with bikers for raising the profile of off-road riding.

In May this year, during US Physical Fitness Week, Bush went for a ride with members of his Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

At the time he said: "It doesn't take much time to stay fit -- 30 minutes five days a week; 30 minutes of walking, 30 minutes of running, 30 minutes of biking, 30 minutes of swimming on a regular basis will help deal with a lot of health issues here in America."

The President took up cycling in 2003 after a painful knee forced him to cut back on jogging and has since been been given honorary membership of the International Mountain Bicycling Association.

He's currently riding a fully suss carbon fibre US$3,100 Trek Fuel – and after a few years of using toe clips, the President switched to clipless pedals and Sidi shoes (soon to be replaced with the Shimano kicks he received on Christmas Day at Camp David). Bush regularly takes a group out trail riding, and many marvel at his technical skills and progress.

Last year Bush was given a custom red, white and blue US$5,000 Cannondale, by company chief Matt Mannelly.

And his 'spare' bike is sprayed and stickered up to match Air Force One. Wonder how much that would go for on Ebay…

© BikeRadar 2007

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