Words and photos by Elena Mei Yun
Kuala Lumpur is not a biking city at all, that’s for sure.
It is not a poser! Until this new start-up with a bike package called Hidden Secrets of Kuala Lumpur.
Covering a route for about 10km, you will discover the Hidden Secrets of Kuala Lumpur and along the way, there will be a lot of food stops. As food and heritage are intertwined it is no better way to see a city than with a bicycle.
Bike with Elena has since got traction with her successful blend of food with a bicycle tous to make the ride more exciting and value for money.
The route she plotted is a result of several recce which has to be scouted the hard way, which is cycling.
“There were many challenges and one of the biggest concerns is road safety. Many recces were done to find the safest route with as many interesting sights and heritage, tangible and intangible packed into the route.
“We were nervous when we tested out the route with a cover writer of an airline magazine. I enlisted a few trusted cycling comrades and did the guided tour for the first-time 29 June last year and later also hosted the media. After several changes, Hidden Secrets of Kuala Lumpur was finally born.”
Reviews from TripAdvisor have been positive. Guests found it an excellent way to discover the city on a bicycle combined with a food tour as they would not have tasted the food if they were on their own!
Russel, a New Yorker has this to say, “We stopped often and each time Elena gave us the historical and cultural facts, we got a good insight into the city and country. I was able to try many new foods that I would not have venturing out on my own.
“I was surprised that I enjoyed 9 out of the 10 things that I ate or drank. KL is not a biking city at all, but Elena has combined street riding with some paved trails. For me it was a perfect combo of food and bike tour….very easy, affordable, and fun.”
Another review from Kelli, from USA who resides in Beijing. “We were impressed with Elena’s kindness and adaptability which made us feel very comfortable to ask questions and have conversation.
She brought us to several fascinating temples, market areas. We had a delicious Indian lunch and followed it up with “tea time” of chai and sweets at a shop off the beaten-path that offers their services through donations only, which we really enjoyed. If you enjoy being active while also learning about the area, we highly recommend this tour!”
For Elena, what inspired her to start ‘Bike with Elena’ was something not born overnight.
“I wanted to show what is best from the city I live in and what her neighbouring township could offer, from small alleyway eateries and places of interests that only cycling can discover. This is why cycling is something different than the conventional walking tours.
Discovering a place of interest by cycling is something different and a challenge in our society which was once a cycling nation.
“We have forgotten the culture of cycling. I like to share the motivation from Robert Frost’s poem, which read “As two roads diverged, I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference.”
The biking business is her labour of love.
The simplicity and beauty of ‘Bike with Elena’ is that it is hassle free and easy going. The smiles on my clients’ faces despite the scorching heat are gratifying to say the least.
“I personally ride long distance. I take every opportunity to go touring whenever I find time. I also devour recce rides as places you think you know in your city prove you wrong. Little alleyways, shortcuts and little corners surprise me. I am always discovering new things while I am out there.”
Longer bike ride
Bike with Elena aims to promote Malaysia’s arts, culture, customs, heritage and her people through cycling by offering eight types of guided bicycle tours; of which three were city bicycle tours, another three outside of Kuala Lumpur, one campus ride and one night ride.
For the more adventurous and seeking for longer rides, there is the Hidden Secrets of Sungai Janggut which is around 30km and passes through local villages. Visitors get to experience the laidback lifestyle of the villagers, the habitat of a mangrove swamp, visit local Malay houses and a local fruit/vegetable farm.
Elena has plans to expand beyond Kuala Lumpur, to let the world know the hidden gems before they disappear.
For enquiries, check her Facebook Bike with Elena.