The Spirituality of the Cyclist: Interview with a “Cycling” Priest

(ZENIT News / Houston, 12.16.2022).- “A Cyclist Spirituality – Spiritual lessons learned from riding a bike”, is the title of the recently published book by Father John Bullock, LC, a text that invites us to find from cycling a motivator for discipline in dealing with Jesus. About the book we have interviewed the author.


Question: Who is Fr. John Bullock, LC?

Response: I grew up in Houston, Texas, and I am an only child. My mother is originally from Austria and my father, now deceased, from Texas. They met in Houston and I lived there for most of my childhood.

Since I was 11 years old, I remember thinking about the priesthood but I didn’t discover the Legionaries of Christ until shortly after college.

I entered the Legion in 1992 in Cheshire, CT, but since I can speak German, I did my novitiate in Germany, later my humanities studies in Salamanca (Spain) and my apostolic practices in Germany and Poland.

I was ordained in 2002, and have worked in California, Cincinnati, and currently in Houston. I have worked in the youth ministry, university, and in the localities of the Regnum Christi. I can say that I love my faith, my priestly vocation as a legionary at the service of the Church and all my Regnum Christi family. I like working with people and I love riding my bike.

Ask: Where did the idea of ​​equating spirituality with cycling come from? And why cycling and not athletics, swimming or some other sport?

Response: I had a strong interest in cycling since I was 14 years old, initially to tour Europe. However, interest quickly turned to racing. I participated in some local races in my teens and wanted to become a professional cyclist. Eventually my knees ended that dream, but the passion for cycling continued.

Once I got into the Legion, I thought riding a bike was a lost love. But 12 years ago, I tried to ride a bike again, and to my delight, I was able to ride a bit. Now I try to ride my bike regularly, around 3 times a week.

Ask: Not everyone can cycle, right? Do you think that cycling is a sport that anyone can do? And applying it to spiritual life, how do you associate this aspect of sports discipline, for example, with prayer?

Response: I do believe that anyone who wants to can ride a bicycle; but cycling as a sport is growing primarily in the United States. Many people have been infected with this concern about cycling, be it mountain or road. You don’t have to formally compete to be an avid cyclist. Around here you see people of all ages riding bikes and many do it with passion and dedication.

From my perspective, Saint Paul already two millennia ago was the connection of this book with sport and the spiritual life, pointing out that our spiritual journey, like a foot race, implies a goal, an effort and the need for discipline. (cf. color 9, 24-25). I think the comparisons can be innumerable. This book shares some spiritual insights gleaned from a cycling point of view, covering topics such as bike fit, drafting (when the cyclist saves energy by riding behind another cyclist in a low pressure area), crashes and accidents, and more.

Ask: Is the book aimed at a specific audience? Is it for an ordinary Christian of those who only go to Mass on Sundays or for those who already have a specific journey or a vocation in the Church?

Response: While I’ve heard a number of non-cyclists say they’ve liked my book, the primary audience is keen cyclists. Statistically speaking, about 23% of those cyclists in the United States will be Catholic. The hope is to help those people who are passionate about cycling to see the connection with the faith to promote it. Most of these people will be lay people, but I have also received a positive response from some Legionaries of Christ.

Ask: In your pastoral dealings with people, what difficulties do you see in the spiritual life that prevent serious work, discipline or a habit to carry out a spirituality?

Response: I have worked pastorally with people of all ages, and I have noticed that A great obstacle to living the faith is the lack of discipline. There is a lack of consistency in the life of prayer, in a life program and even, sometimes, in the experience of the sacraments. This subgroup, passionate cyclists, will have no problem with willpower. You can’t be a serious cyclist without the willpower to train regularly. Here the underlying issue will be to awaken that same passion for faith as one has for cycling.

Ask: What would you say to those who say they simply don’t have time for the spiritual life, or who see it as something already outdated, outdated?

Response: When someone experiences the love of Jesus Christ through prayer, Eucharistic adoration or some other spiritual or human experience, then the motivation will come from within the person, from the heart.. And you find time to spend it with the person you love, without excuses.

The book «A Cyclist Spirituality – Spiritual lessons learned from riding a bike» it can be obtained in Paperback and Kindle format, for now only in English. can be purchased in this link. For Italy, here.

The Spirituality of the Cyclist: Interview with a “Cycling” Priest – ZENIT – English