Living in Japan
Charity rider

Charity rider

Added In: Living in Japan › Other

Paul Binford

Before becoming America’s cancer crusader, Lance Armstrong dealt with testicular cancer that metastasized to his brain. Brad Deacon maneuvers around wild boar.

 “I came around a bend and right there, in front of me, in the middle of the road, was a huge wild boar,” recalled Deacon. “I’m thinking, ‘I’ve run into a wild boar in the middle of the road and my only weapon is a bicycle pump.’”

For Deacon, such encounters are part of his daily 40-kilometer bicycling commute that he uses as a one-man, cancer-fighting peloton called ‘10K for 10K.’ In the course of one year he intends to ride roughly 10,000 kilometers—and through his Web site and donations—raise $10,000 or 1,000,000 yen for various cancer organizations.

Originally from Toronto, Deacon now lives in Nagoya and last year began a teaching job at Nanzan University’s Seto Campus. At the time he was not looking forward to the long commute. Then he discovered the joys of cycling.

Once he was committed to his routine, next came motivation for making a difference. Insert Lance Armstrong. Talk about inspiration.

Deacon was inspired by Armstrong’s life story, which after winning the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times, now involves providing $40 million a year in cancer research via the foundation in his name.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation—also known as the LiveStrong movement—promotes and solicits funds with celebrity bike rides, grassroots fundraising and merchandise sales, like their enormously popular yellow rubber bracelet.

What Deacon lacks in endorsements and ex-rock star girlfriends he intends to make up with a grueling work day commute and his own impressive fund-raising Web site, There he outlines his plan, has pictures of his bikes, provides a monthly kilometer progress report, and also links to the American, Canadian and Japan cancer societies.

The daily trek starts from his home in Motoyama and moves north to the Yada River, which he follows all the way to Seto. During his commutes, Deacon makes an interesting transition from an urban cityscape to pastoral countryside; and he also meets locals of the more conversational variety.

“They ask me where I came from,” said Deacon, “they’re amazed when I tell them my daily cycling route. It’s a bit contrary to what you’d normally expect in Japan.”

Deacon also said when people find out he’s from Canada they instantly recognize it as a natural country full of beauty, to which he replies that Japan has lots of beautiful nature outside its cities.

“I’ve gotten a much better appreciation of Japan’s natural beauty,” he said.

But Aichi Prefecture is actually a dangerous place for cyclists. On a yearly basis, there about 260 road deaths caused by bicycle-car collisions. I asked Brad about this statistic.

“Well, how many of those are Canadians from Toronto? I would say zero, so my odds of survival are pretty good. There are dangers, though.” He proceeded to tell me about how he occasionally encounters wildlife on his route, and in particular, he recalls wild boars in the middle of the road.

“I came around a bend and right there, in front of me, in the middle of the road, was a huge wild boar. They are NOT friendly. They have long, sharp tusks. They grimace at you, as if they’re about to pounce. I’m thinking, ‘I’ve run into a wild boar in the middle of the road and my only weapon is a bicycle pump.’ Eventually they wander off. When I tell the local village people about my encounters with a wild boar, they usually shrug, as if to say ‘No big deal’. I guess it’s an everyday thing for them.”

As the kilometers roll on and the dollars or yen begin to accumulate, this decision clearly becomes about more than scenic rides and muscular endurance. It’s about helping people.

Deacon noted that the Nagoya community has an abundance of people who are trying to make the world a better place, whether by bringing basic education to villagers in Thailand or Africa, or by providing tools and building supplies to impoverished areas in the Philippines and Bangladesh.

Besides the cycling and cancer catalyst Armstrong, Deacon said Helen Keller is another source for inspiration.

“She has a great quote, ‘I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something,’” he recited.

“My feeling runs like this: We can all make a small difference—it’s a lot better to do something than do nothing.”

Brad’s website can be viewed at:
 Or he can be reached at:

Charity rider