Just a week ago Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. While the commander in chief has made lots of news about his stances on immigration, corporate tax rates and possible connections to Russia, his term in office is certain to have a ripple effect on many industries, including cycling. Moreover, while you likely won’t see him donning a spandex kit with the presidential seal, Trump does have some connections to the cycling industry.
Tour de Trump
Donald Trump’s most infamous relationship with cycling is the Tour de Trump. After covering the Tour de France in 1987, CBS sports reporter John Tesh suggested a similar style race in the U.S.. The real estate mogul-turned-politician signed on as a sponsor and, in 1989, the Tour de Trump was born.
The inaugural 10-stage race started in Albany, New York and covered 837 miles, concluding at the front doors of Trump’s Atlantic City Casino. The race drew an international field, including the Soviet cycling team, and was ultimately won by Norweigian cyclist Dag Otto Lauritzen, who took home a cool $50K (a figure that paled in comparison to the prize money for the well-established Tour de France).
A Sports Illustrated article, entitled The Wheels of Fortune, described the spectacle in colorful terms:
If you could get past the name, the Tour de Trump, without losing your lunch, and if you could somehow divorce the sporting event from the excess baggage that went with it—the Trump Princess, the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, the chest-Trumping cameos of King Donald himself, whose ideas for improving the Tour de Trump included adding a few laps around the White House and continuing the race to Los Angeles via Detroit, Chicago and San Francisco—what you had was a pretty nice bicycle race.
After only two years of races, Trump withdrew his sponsorship and the event was renamed the Tour DuPont. The race ceased after 1996 when DuPont dropped its support.
Trump, the Cyclist
In 1989, during an NBC interview promoting the Tour de Trump, the nation’s future 45th President responded that he hadn’t ridden a bike since adolescence. (Earlier in the interview he stated he would never pursue politics because he was too honest.) It’s unclear whether he has been in the saddle since then, but it’s unlikely, especially given recent repeated comments berating another politician who is an avid cyclist.
John Kerry’s Bicycle Crash
In May 2015 then Secretary of State John Kerry broke his femur after crashing his bicycle in France. At the time of the crash Kerry was in Geneva for talks with Iranian officials over its nuclear program. On the campaign trail, the presidential hopeful pounced upon the incident, calling Kerry a “clown” and an “idiot” and promised never to ride a bicycle while in high level negotiations. He made the same joke about Kerry’s crash at numerous campaign events, including this August 2015 stump speech in Burch Run, MI:
Deputy Commerce Secretary Pick
Following the election of President Trump his team announced that he had tapped Cubs co-owner, and bicycle enthusiast, Todd Ricketts to serve as his deputy commerce secretary.
Ricketts is the owner of Higher Gear, a performance bicycle shop in the Chicago area that he purchased in 2009. The co-owner of the defending World Series champions also helped organize The Wrigley Field Road Tour, a 100-mile ride that raised money for Cubs Charities and World Bicycle Relief.
The Deputy Commerce Secretary nominee has also served on the board of directors at World Bicycle Relief, an international nonprofit that focuses on distributing bicycles in developing countries.
Confirmation hearings for Ricketts have yet to be scheduled, but Republicans appear to have the votes for it to go through.
President Trump and Trade
According to 2014 statistics from the National Bicycle Dealers Association, more than 99 percent of all bicycles sold in the United States are imported, largely from Taiwan and China. We’re talking nearly 18,000,000 bicycles coming in from overseas, while domestic production hovers in the 200,000 mark.
This is important because President Trump has promised to raise tariffs on Chinese imports. If the president follows through that could result in higher prices for your bicycles, and parts, in the coming months and years.