Last Saturday, I learned that riding a bike is like riding a bike. You never forget.
As of last Saturday, it had been over three months since I took my bike outside for a ride. Extended heat waves and smoky air kept me within the more comfortable confines of my garage to train indoors. Besides, with no organized races on the calendar, there wasn’t a big need to do long training rides outside. I had become so used to riding indoors that I wasn’t even sure if I remembered how to ride outside.
Still, I was starting to go stir crazy with my indoor training. About a month ago I decided to take matters into my own feet to do a ride for charity. Inspired by the many Sikhs around the world who were doing seva during the pandemic to deliver food and support, this seva was calling me too.
I sought out a charity to support and I learned of No Kid Hungry, a campaign by the organization Share Our Strength which works to address food insecurity among children in this country, an issue made even more acute during our pandemic times. I figured I could do my own 100-mile route between Sacramento and San Francisco with the goal to raise $1,000 for No Kid Hungry over the four weeks before this ride. My expectations were low, though. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to raise that much over four weeks, but there was nothing to lose. Whatever could be raised for this cause would be worth it.
I began fundraising — which is to say, I blasted my social media with requests for donations. To my surprise, family, friends, colleagues and people I didn’t know immediately started donating. By the first week, total donations blew past the $1,000 goal. I couldn’t believe it. With all the madness in our current times, I was touched and inspired by all this support and generosity.
I mapped out a route between Sacramento’s Tower Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco — a journey I’d never attempted to bike before. My mom and sister volunteered to be my support vehicle, meeting me at rest stops and driving along my route to make sure I was safe. I set out on Saturday morning, and after getting lost in the countryside, almost having to stop after 60 miles due to a threat of rain, and being chased by a dog, I rode my bike 107 miles to reach San Francisco.
I didn’t quite make it on my bike to the Golden Gate Bridge, however. About eight miles away, the sun had set on me, putting me in darkness on unfamiliar roads. Then, my bike GPS died, leaving me without my navigation. With 107 miles done, it seemed best at that point to call it a day. But, we did drive over to the Golden Gate Bridge to at least reach my ultimate destination and celebrate.
At the end of my ride, 39 people donated a total of $2,182.99 for No Kid Hungry (over twice my goal!). I cannot thank enough everyone who supported me in this cause. I’m moved to think about the potential that this generosity will have to help hungry children across our country.
In this crazy year, this ride was a light of good news. It made me remember that people still come together to do good things, and that there are people who still believe in doing good even for something they might not ever see. And, even though I hadn’t been on my bike outdoors in three months, I still remembered how to do it. Ultimately, this is all the work of the Divine, and I’m grateful to everyone who helped manifest this to fruition. Thank you!