Behind the Scenes of a Presidential Bike Ride

President Obama with daughter Malia on Tuesday. Not pictured: Secret Service SUVs. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty via Transportation Nation

This week marked the 109th anniversary of the first presidential motorcade, starring Theodore Roosevelt. If you’ve ever wondered why TR’s successors so rarely ditch their limos in favor of human-powered transport, read on. Staged photo op or no, it seems being elected president is a great way to spoil a family outing.

Copy from Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown via the White House Press Office. Emphasis added.

The First Family took a leisurely ride Tuesday morning through Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.

After about a half-hour wait, shortly after 11 a.m., the pool got a glimpse of the president, decked out in a helmet, sunglasses, a black polo shirt and dark jeans.

But first up: First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Sasha took the lead, passing first by the pool, which was assembled in knee-deep grass off a concrete bike path. Neither said anything to the reporters, photographers and TV cameras recording them.

Several minutes later, the president and daughter Malia rode by.

“Hello, everybody,” Obama said to the pool and about two dozen or so less-famous bikers who greeted him.

“Any word on Qadhafi’s whereabouts?” yelled the Associated Press’s Mark Smith.

The president didn’t take the question, choosing instead to keep his focus on the small group of cheering spectators as he moved further down the path.

The full procession through the park offered a stark contrast that underscored the strange existence of a president.

Shortly before Michelle and Sasha Obama arrived, two trucks carrying Secret Service agents rode along the same narrow concrete path usually reserved for bikers and walkers. A rolling caravan of agents and staff followed on bikes ahead of the president and Malia, who were then followed by several more SUVs full of agents.

“Can you imagine living like that?” one female biker asked her fellow onlookers.