CRAWFORD, Texas - It’s no yellow jersey, but President Bush on Saturday presented Lance Armstrong with another shirt to show off his biking experiences — a red, white and blue T-shirt emblazoned “Tour de Crawford.”
The leader of the free world and the world’s biking master rode for 17 miles on Bush’s ranch for about two hours at midmorning. Bush showed Armstrong the sites of the ranch that he calls “a little slice of heaven,” including a stop at a waterfall midway through the ride.
They were accompanied by a small group of staff and Secret Service agents and a film crew from the Discovery Channel, Armstrong’s Tour de France sponsor, which had exclusive media access for the ride. Footage was shot for a program on Armstrong to air this week.
Neither Bush nor Armstrong spoke to reporters, although White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was impressed with the seven-time champ’s skills.
“Recognizing what the world has known for years, the president said, ’He’s a good rider,”’ Duffy said.
The president has taken up biking with a fervor since a bad knee forced him to give up his running routine a few years ago. He’s been spending a lot of time riding while staying in Texas this month. It was Armstrong’s first ride at the presidential ranch, which is about 100 miles north of Armstrong’s adopted hometown of Austin.
Duffy wouldn’t say whether they talked politics, a topic that Armstrong has said he is getting more interested in now that he’s retiring from biking and turns 34 next month. Armstrong calls Bush a friend, but he has spoken out against the war in Iraq and has said he wants the government to spend more money on cancer research.
At the end of the ride, Bush gave Armstrong and the rest of the riders the T-shirts, which said “Tour de Crawford” on the front in Western-style rope script and “Peloton One” — a reference to the densely packed group of riders in a race — on the back. Bush also gave them red, white and blue riding socks with the presidential seal on the inner ankle.
After the presentation, Duffy said, they posed for pictures and the president announced, “OK, let’s go swimming.” Armstrong and the rest of the group were invited to stay for lunch.
2010 Tour de France