May 23

This Day in History

Presidential

May 23, 2004:

George W. Bush recovers from bicycle accident

On this day in 2004, as reported in the Washington Post, President George Bush recovers from a bicycle accident he'd had the day before. Bush had taken up mountain biking for exercise at the suggestion of physicians.

Reporter Dana Milbank recounted how Bush fell from his mountain bike while completing a 17-mile course on his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Despite scrapes and scratches on his chin, lip, nose, hand and knees, Bush--who was wearing a helmet at the time--got back on his bike and finished the course. Afterwards, a White House spokesperson warned reporters that Bush might show up for his daughter Jenna's graduation party the next Saturday sporting a bandage on his chin.

In an earlier mishap in 2003, Bush was captured on film as he fell off a motorized scooter. The physically active Bush has narrowly escaped other frightening and life-threatening incidents. In 1999, he luckily avoided major injuries when a truck carrying a load of cement and wood turned over as he was jogging by it. That same year, Bush encountered, but was not bitten by, venomous water moccasins while swimming in a watering hole on his Crawford ranch. In January 2002, Bush was alone with his two dogs watching a football game in the White House when he managed to dislodge a pretzel from his throat after choking on it.

Over the years, cartoonists and journalists have relished showing the presidents in their more uncoordinated moments, but no president has been lampooned for clumsiness like former President Gerald Ford, who was actually very athletic. After he was first photographed stumbling down the last few steps of the stairway from Air Force One, Ford's subsequent trips and falls were immortalized by actor Chevy Chase in the 1970s on the popular television show, Saturday Night Live.

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