A bicycle poem by a US Democratic presidential candidate


No, not Barack Obama (pictured) or Hillary Clinton. Bicycle Rider is by Eugene McCarthy (1916-2005), a US Senator from Minnesota. In the 1960s he five times sought the Democratic nomination for US president, but failed at each attempt.

He’s most famous for his anti-Vietnam War stance but was also an author and a poet. His learning-to-ride-a-bike poem was about his daughter, Mary and is from Other Things and the Aardvark (1970).


Teeth bare to the wind
Knuckle-white grip on the handlebars
You push the pedals of no return,
Let loose new motion and speed.
The earth turns with the multiplied
Force of your wheels.
Do not look back.
Feet light on the brake
Ride the bicycle of your will
Down the spine of the world,
Ahead of your time, into life
I will not say Go Slow.

Co-incidentally, McCarthy’s attempt to win the Democratic nomination for president in 1968 was a messy affair and led to the current system of ‘superdelegates’ who, should they wish to flex their super-muscles, can ditch an unelectable presidential candidate.