I have developed an odd fascination with priests’ bikes, that I swear are the forebears of full carbon racers. The mantra of performance frame makers is “lateral stiffness and vertical compliance”. This can be achieved by the way you align carbon fibres, or by using a spaghetti of straight tubes when welding together a lugged and braised bike made of steel.
Standard histories of the priest bike tell us this frame was developed because priets required extra stand over height, due to the low crotch of their trousers. Why then, did they not simply ride step-throughs? Or mixties? Why build bikes for these men that are strong enough to land off of jumps, that transfer power to the ground better than rally cars, and that provide the kind of vertical compliance one seeks in a bike they will use for a 24 hour off-road enduro? Why make the gentlest of men, the toughest of bikes?
This conundrum is actually quite easy to break. Just let your mind run with this claim: the priests of a century ago, would all be road racers if they were living today. Instead of robes, they would wear Lycra. Instead of delighting in strange stares from people with sex lives, they would secretly love the odd looks they get from people inside their cars, while they are out in the rain. But in every other respect their lives would be no different: pious, lonely, calorie deficient, and spent in the saddle, in self flagellation, all to be rid of an unnaturally high sex drive. I think all road racing cyclists can understand the feelings that drove those olden time priests, riding for hours to meet widows and offer some pastoral care. This, gentlemen, is where our current day priesthood could be doing more for those communities that we have been neglecting to serve (or do I mean “service”—I’m not 100% sure I have the right word).