I grew up in a Maryland suburb of Washington D.C., an only child, and the road bicycle which my father gave me on my 12th birthday turned out to be a far more important gift than he could ever have imagined. A cancer scare some time ago served to solidify my resolve to put bike riding to use in an expression of outreach and compassion. I decided to ride across the U.S. as 'Monk on a Bike', from San Francisco to Washington D.C., speaking to people about my experiences, and visiting Zen communities and temples as well as ordinary folks. 'Monk on a Bike' will also be riding in support of 'Children's Hospital Foundation', Washington, D.C.
I became a monk at a temple near Tokyo, and my nearly eight years of subsequent Zen training has taught me a lot about myself, and about the core essence of the word 'compassion'; the time has come to put it all together, and take it on the road!
The 'Monk on a Bike' Charity Campaign will enable me to do just that, by helping me to defray the considerable cost of the undertaking, and to cover expenses. These will include:
~ Airfare from Japan to and from the U.S.
~ Average daily expenses (food and hydration),
accommodation (campground, hostel or
~ Allowance for routine bike maintenance,
medical supplies, communication costs, etc.
In terms of the 'Average Daily Allowance', I set a conservative overall estimate at $50.00.
I am not factoring in the cost of the bicycle, currently at 120,000 Japanese yen (about $1100.00), which was custom built for 'Monk on a Bike' by me and my colleague, the cost of cycling-specific clothing, or the requisite materials needed to ensure that the bicycle makes it safely to San Francisco and back to Japan from Washington, D.C. (e.g. airplane-ready packing).
Admittedly, some of the equipment choices for the bike and the rider could have been somewhat cheaper; that is why they are not included. A conservative estimate of the basic costs necessary to allow me to carry out the 'Monk on a Bike Trans U.S. Zen Cyclequest and Charity Drive' outreach looks like this:
$50.00/Day x 70 days..... $3500.00
$ 2 One-way air tickets.... $1500.00
Total ....$ 5000.00
Additional funds raised once my costs have been covered will be donated to:
'Children's Hospital Foundation'
Though I will only be donating directly to this one hospital, the affiliation thus created will give me good reason to visit other Children's Hospitals within reach of my route, to offer a simple greeting as a gesture of support.
I estimated the ride duration at 70 days, but whether I will make it in that time I cannot say. It surely won't be less than 70 days, but it could easily be longer.
Donations of any amount will be sincerely appreciated; spiritual donations too will be received with great gratitude. I look forward to having you ride alongside me every mile of the way, right from wherever you are!
My mother having passed away when I was five, loneliness was a constant companion during my youth. In cycling, I found a way to befriend that loneliness, to put it to work as a kind of spiritual healer, and have ever since had a road bike by my side. I currently live in Jomanji Soto Zen temple in Tokushima, Japan, about four kilometers from the Pacific coast, and nestled against the mountains.
As I prepare to make some important decisions regarding my next steps along the Zen road, this outreach will serve as a beacon in the mist, and the journey across the country of my birth will be a spiritual advisor of the highest order. Admittedly, I have no previous experience with fundraising; I will be obliged to learn as I go, adrift on the Sea of Light... Fortunately though, I do have abundant faith in the altruistic nature of the human heart!
Let us Ride!!
On the Sea of Light
Monk on a Bike may have always existed
He may never have existed
He may be a prophet from an alternate universe,
The frozen core of a long dead star,
That ever elusive Ray of Hope...
Or he may just be some fool,
Sowing seeds of clarity and compassion
Along a stretch of open road...
Whatever the case may be,
The time has come to speak of Monk on a Bike.
- Geoffrey Burrell-Sahl
- Tom Birchard
- Hugh Jeram Croft
- Dean Commins
Organizer and beneficiary
Simon Gregory Filson