As I begin planning my cycling in 2019, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on 2018.
I started this blog/platform last year as my online hub for “Seva Cycling” — my hope for a team of Sikh cyclists in the US who could ride together for various causes. My goal at the time was to put together a Sikh-oriented cycling team for America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride (AMBBR), a 100-mile ride around Lake Tahoe, CA, to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I first did this ride in the year prior and during that event, it occurred to me that I didn’t see any other Sikhs among the over-3,000 participants. So, I reached out to a few Sikh friends to see if we could put together a Sikh-oriented team through which we could contribute to helping blood cancer patients but also represent our community.
Unfortunately, my Sikh cycling dream team didn’t come to fruition. As is often the case, reality turns out to be more tricky than the imagined and it was challenging to rally a group of Sikh cyclists — there aren’t many that I know and those that I do are spread out across the US and have many of their own commitments. Let alone training for the century ride, the fundraising commitments were also daunting to some. So, with my dreams of a Sikh pace line hurtling down the descents around Lake Tahoe dashed, I carried on with one of my Sikhophile friends under this banner.
In the Sikh faith, seva refers to selfless service of others, beyond our own ego and helping those in need. Seeking credit is antithetical to seva and so creating a social media platform on which I promoted these rides and cycling activity introduced a bit of tension: I wanted to raise awareness about these rides so to invite donations and support for these causes, but I also was wary of taking any kind of credit or allowing my own ego to enter into the equation. It’s not an equation I’ve still mastered but I’m hoping to keep the focus on the greater good. Besides, cycling is a very humbling sport. There are always people who are better, stronger or faster than you no matter how long you’ve cycled. And, riding long distances, climbing various elevations using your own body power, and challenging your physical limits reminds you that you are always at the mercy of the route ahead of you.
In any case, in 2018 I was happy to receive much support from family, friends and colleagues across the various rides that we completed:
In March, I traveled down to Texas and rode in Just Ride for a Just Cause in Simonton, not far from Houston. My good friend Manpreet Kaur and I rode 40 miles through rural Texas to help support the fight against human and sex trafficking — a little discussed issue in this country but — as I was surprised to learn the extent of — one of high magnitude. The victims and survivors of trafficking just in Texas alone in one year was in the hundreds of thousands.
Just Ride for a Just Cause became part of my training for AMBBR in June. For the second year, I rode with Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Los Angeles Chapter of Team-in-Training (over 100 riders strong) and with whom I trained every Saturday for four months in Los Angeles (and who I subjected my weekly 30-mile cycling karaoke session until I got tired). AMBBR has a fundraising component to support LLS’s programs and research and help patients fighting blood cancer. This year, as in 2017, my friend and I cycling under the Seva Cycling banner received an inspiring $3,786 in donations from our family and friends. Our LA Cycle team raised over $300,000 (amazing!) for the cause.
In July, on the invitation of one of my TNT teammates, I participated in a virtual awareness ride with Cycle for Chiari, to support Conquer Chiari raise awareness of a little known brain condition. I rode 80 miles to help this organization spread the word about this brain malformation that afflicts many people.
In October, I was back in Sacramento, CA to ride in the Sacramento Century Challenge (held by the Rotary Club of Sacramento) for the second year in a row. My friend who joined me at Lake Tahoe rode with me again to complete a 100-mile ride that started at the California State Capitol building, through the Sacramento delta region and back. His brother-in-law joined us this year and completed his first ever century ride (congratulations, Dave!). Together, you supported us with $750 of donations for this ride’s beneficiary: the Crisis Nursery Program at Sacramento Children’s Home, which provides childcare support to families in crisis.
Underlying these rides during 2018 were a couple of nagging health issues that put my riding on the shelf after the Sacramento Century Challenge. While I had intended to ride in at least two more charity rides, it turned out that I would need to stay off the bike for a couple of months to close out the year. I spent much of the late fall and winter recovering from these issues and praying that I wouldn’t get too much out of shape.
I did get back on the bike by December to train indoors as a result of shorter days and getting some outdoor rides on the weekend. While I was disappointed not to be able to do any more charity rides, perhaps the recovery from those health episodes was a good thing as it allowed me time to rest and refresh for 2019.
I’m looking forward to a great year. Many of you will once again be harassed by me on social media, e-mail and text messages for support as I return to America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride this year, and as I return to Sacramento in October. In between, keep an eye out for the other causes I’ll be supporting on my bike.
I would love for you to join me — either on the bike under Seva Cycling banner, or off the bike through your financial and emotional support. I’d also love to join YOU for a charity ride you’re interested in (hit me up!).
Finally, and most important, thanks to family, friends and supporters who inspire us to keep training, signing up for rides, and helping us with our fundraising. Your support means very much to those who need these programs and helps us get through the tough moments during training and events. Let’s keep riding for good in 2019!