Barack Obama's Bicycle-Riding Is a Glimpse Into His Soul

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AUGUST AUGUST 16, 2013

Barack Obama's Bicycle-Riding Is a Glimpse Into His Soul

I have a theory that one is never more her truest self than when on a bike. Bike-riding exposes your appetite for risk, your sense of adventure, your ease with your own place in relation to the world. This self is different, often, than the self one presents to the world. (Not always: Leonardo DiCaprio on a Citibike with e-cigarette, newsboy cap, and expansive posture is a good example of unity between the outer and inner selves.) Barack Obama, our coolest president, rides a bike like a nerd. (So do I, for the record.) We have seen fresh evidence of this on his Martha's Vineyard vacation this week. He is often upright, his knees bending eagerly a bit too much. He does have an attacking posture; sometimes he bends more, but he does not lean into speed. You get the sense that he is thinking about tightening his core muscles, rather. He is a cautious rider, one more concerned with safety and correctness than style. He wears a helmet, of course. And you know that he would even if a gaggle of pool photographers were not following him around: the man has the risk-averse soul of a lawyer. He also, often, uses bicycle riding as an occasion to look at the scenery rather than focusing tightly on the road ahead. He considers all angles, as it were. In other words, Barack Obama's bicycling, dorky as it is, very much is in line with his personality.

Of course, perhaps I am wrong, and one is never his truest self more than when on a Segway.

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Noreen Malone is a staff writer at The New Republic. 

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