French Father Robert Leroy has an interesting way to relax and to connect with his parishioners. He’s a priest and cyclist, and has a lovely a sense of humor. He has ridden 600,000km. That’s the equivalent of 200 Tours de France, although he doesn’t often compete since amateur races are most often scheduled… on Sunday mornings!
One competition he does participate in every year is the Clergy Championship which he has won more than once. Each year on the first of May this fraternal competition brings together anyone who is ordained for a short race of about 60km. About 50 clergy gathered in Brittany for the the 20th edition in 2019. Father Leroy is the only one to have competed in all 20 races.
Father Leroy has been riding his bike for most of his life. He owns 7 or 8 bicycles. It was while riding one day in 1983 that he made the decision to go to seminary.
Le jour où j’ai pris la décision de rentrer au séminaire, c’est la seule fois où j’ai plus prié sur mon vélo que pédalé. D’habitude je ne mélange pas, soit je prie, soit je roule, mais pas ce jour-là, j’ai fait 190km dont je ne me souviens absolument rien. He told Jean-François Fournel, journalist of La Croix.
Today the good-natured Priest and cyclist is 67 years old and still rides about 7000km per year just for pleasure. One of the things he likes about cycling is that you can continue to ride even as time goes by and participate in a group where the ages are varied. Most often he rides alone, but sometimes joins a group of locals some of whom are his parishioners. He finds that riding with them makes him more of a regular guy in their eyes, everyone is relaxed and sometimes they open up. He finds the pleasure and satisfaction of riding and faith go in parallel. And adds, with humor, that in both cases
Il faut un idéal, de l’humilité, de la discipline et les cyclistes font régulièrement l’expérience de la résurrection: un jour on croit mourir sur le vélo, et le lendemain on marche super bien.
You can only imagine how enjoyable his sermons would be! You can find him serving several “clochers“, as he says, around Sully-sur-Loire.
Here’s a couple other articles about biking in Paris.