PORTLAND (AP) – The owner and two employees of the Cape-Able Bike Shop in Kennebunkport say their new cycling buddy is in great shape and is awfully fast for someone twice their age.

“He was charging through mud puddles, going up hills and over rocks,” shop owner Brandon Gillard said of President Bush after they rode for more than an hour Saturday morning along the trails of the Massabesic Experimental Forest in Alfred and Lyman.

“He was actually surprisingly fast,” Billy Vandervalk, the shop’s service manager, told the Portland Press Herald. “The president can really get it done. He was moving along at a pretty good clip.”

Bush, who recently turned 60, rode Friday with Vandervalk and went out the next day with Vandervalk, Gillard and Pat Hackleman, the shop’s manager, who range in age from 28 to 30. They were trailed by motorized all-terrain vehicles carrying a Secret Service detail.

Bush, who was in Maine to visit his parents and attend a family wedding, is an avid mountain biker and has taken his customized Trek bike to California, Scotland and China, among other places.

Cape-Able has worked on bikes for the Bush family and the Secret Service. A week before the president’s trip, two agents came to the shop and asked Vandervalk about off-road trails that might be suitable for the president.

Vandervalk showed them some, including trails in the Massabesic Experimental Forest that would be wide enough for security vehicles. This led to an invitation to accompany the president, on condition that Vandervalk and his friends be discreet for the sake of security and that talk of politics would be off-limits.

“They said we could tell whoever we wanted after the fact, but we could tell no one before,” Gillard said.

On Saturday, the three took turns riding in the lead next to the president, chatting and joking with him.

“He was genuinely very sincere in asking us where we grew up and how the bike shop was doing. He definitely was not selfish in the conversations he had with us,” Hackleman said.

“He was just a regular guy,” Gillard said. “He didn’t have a big commanding presence.”

Hackleman said Bush got right back up on his bike after a fall.

“He took a little spill, but we were all falling. There was a place (that) was really muddy. We were all dirty at the end of the ride,” he said.

Bush left an invitation for his three biking companions to ride with him if they ever travel to Washington, D.C.

“I said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Gillard said. “But he said, ‘Well, who do you think I’m calling next time I’m in Maine?”‘


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