It was at mile 37 of my ride to raise funds for Movember where I rolled into the parking lot of Sikh Temple West Sacramento, one of the largest in the area and for which I made a small detour to visit. This is the Gurdwara I visited most often in Sacramento, but with the pandemic and the open-ups and the lock-downs, I hadn’t been here in almost a year.
I’d also never been here on my bike before, let alone in cycling clothes. It’s not how I would typically present myself in a religious space, but the desire to pay my respects during this bike ride and on the day after Thanksgiving was also made more acute by a call of nature. So, under the somewhat perplexed gaze of the few visitors who were also walking in, I wheeled my bike through the front door and entered, dressed in my helmet, glasses, cycling tights and face mask.
A bhai sahib of the Gurdwara was sitting in the lobby area and met me with an expression of bewilderment and maybe a little concern. He couldn’t make out my face to know if I was a community member or new visitor or possible troublemaker, but he seemed a little more at ease when I greeted him with “Sat Sri Akal” and knowingly made my way to the restrooms. He was still in the lobby when I came out and he silently kept watch as I paid my respects to the Guru Granth Sahib in the Diwan hall and wheeled my bike out the front doors to leave. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a typical day when a masked man in tights showed up at the Gurdwara with a bike.
In the parking lot one of the Gurdwara’s committee members approached me. I seemed to be generating some more interest from my cycling attire, I suspect.
“Hello hello, can I help you?”
“Sat Sri Akal, no I’m good, thank you.” I dropped my mask so he could see my face. “I’m Winty Singh.”
He seemed content that I was a Sikh and was there on purpose. “Oh, ok. I thought you needed help or something. I wanted to check and see.”
“No, no, I’m good. I was riding my bike and thought I’d come by the Gurdwara.”
“Where are you riding from?”
“I rode from Fair Oaks to Davis and I’m heading back now.”
“Oh! On the bike!?”
He wasn’t sure what to make of it and while he and I know each other, he didn’t seem recognize me. Still, he engaged me in some small talk, and content that I was a Sikh and I obviously didn’t happen upon the Gurdwara by accident or by incident, he went on his way. And, feeling good, I did too.