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Local pastor to bike 3,000 miles to raise money

A local pastor will bike about 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to New York City this summer to raise money for two charities.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for my wife and I. We have to enjoy the journey,” said Chuck Monts, the part-time pastor at Pleasant Valley Presbyterian Church since March.

He has not done a bike trip of this magnitude since 1978, when he and a friend biked from Philadelphia to San Francisco. They raised money for a food charity called CROP.

His goal of $100,000 will support his primary charity, which is the Bowery Mission in New York City. The organization, where he worked a couple years, provides food, clothing, ministry and other services to the needy and homeless in Manhattan on a daily basis. Those interested in donating to Monts’ effort for The Bowery Mission may go to my.bowery.org/fundraiser/3166566.

His secondary charity is the Garden of Giving in Saylorsburg. It provides fresh produce and eggs to more than 30 food pantries in Monroe County. Donors to The Garden of Giving may send checks to The Garden of Giving, 2556 Rising Hill Drive, Saylorsburg, PA, 18353.

“I think it is going to be fantastic. It is going to be grueling some days. But the purpose - to support those in need - is what is important,” church member Trish Wartluft said.

She and husband Jeff have become his teammates, meaning they will encourage their network of friends, family and colleagues to support Monts’ mission.

He will begin his trek at the Union Rescue Mission in LA on June 5 and roll up to the Bowery Mission on July 31.

He will pass through cities such as Salt Lake City, Des Moines, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia and Stockton, New Jersey, where his father pastored a church in the late ’60s.

He will bike rain or shine.

“I wouldn’t mind some rainy days. It would make it feel cooler and provide some relief,” he said.

He is looking for ways to make his seat more comfortable and a way to protect his wrists and hands from all the bumps.

“One way is to put padding on the handlebars,” he said.

His wife, Deb, will be nearby in a vehicle with luggage, gear, camera and their new National Park passes. She will drive ahead and do touristy things while he is biking to the destination.

“I am going old school for this trip. I have called churches in cities and towns along the way to see if we can stay there a night and use their sinks to wash up. We will stay in a hotel on rare occasions,” he said.

So far, about 30 churches have made the commitment to host him and Deb. Only a few have turned him down.

“We will eat basic foods such as peanut butter and jelly, egg salad and whatever we can make on our Coleman grill. It will also be important for me to stay hydrated.”

His two college buddies, Jerry Spatara and Gregg Rabenold, will bike alongside him for a week from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City.

“We get together every couple of years for mishaps and adventure. This by far will be our biggest adventure,” Monts said.

He has set up a Facebook page, Biking for the Bowery Mission, and a YouTube page,

Biking for the Bowery, where people can check on his progress and his coast-to-coast travel.

Monts said that, “My fundraising effort depends on getting people to pass the word and say ‘my friend is doing this bike tour. Would you like to support him?’?”

Andy Bales, the CEO of the Union Rescue Mission, found a donor to provide Monts with a bike meant for long distances. He has been doing short local rides on a used bike he got from his neighbor.

“Andy has been very supportive of me. He is going to bike with me for the first few days,” Monts said.

Monts’ son, brother-in-law and his adult children will ride alongside him on the last day, which will be 67 miles from Stockton, New Jersey, to New York City.

He plans to take two days each week off from biking - one weekday and Sunday.

While he is on the road, he will provide weekly worship services via Zoom. His summer sermon theme is “The Journey,” which he says is “a powerful metaphor for people of faith. The connections you make on the road are something to celebrate.”

Monts is grateful that the church hired him in March despite knowing that he would be gone this summer.

“I am going to have to rely on receiving charity while on the road. It is a reverse of what I usually do as a pastor,” he said.

Chuck Monts, the part-time pastor at Pleasant Valley Presbyterian Church, will bike about 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to New York City this summer to raise money for two charities. STACI L. GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS