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Independence Day 2012

At India’s 66th Independence Day celebrations on 15 August, I met some incredible people like Uma Pushpanathan, the talented & award winning dancer Ramli Ibrahim, artist Siva & Miles, the Australian High Commissioner & his lovely wife. Uma talked about her involvement in dignifying the charity-giving of essentials through a card that they go to the grocers with. Recipients of this aid can use the card to ”˜purchase’ items on the list for a specified time each month. I asked her if she can obtain help for some of the hardcore poor communities that Caring Communities is working with & she was all for it. How timely to be meeting the right people at the right time.

In all of the events, I always get to enjoy the delicious Indian food served & that night was particularly good because the catering had a whole roast lamb & a huge fish on the platter. This just means that I would have to cycle an additional 10km each time & take a different route home to work off the weight to allow me more for each function!

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Taken with my host, the Indian High Commissioner His Excellency Mr. Vijay Gokhale.

On the home front, I spent Merdeka Eve (30 August) cycling to Merdeka Square & back, had supper with a group of people & headed home at 3am only to wake up at 7:30am to get ready to cycle to Petaling Street for the Merdeka Festival 2012 where I bade farewell to Yook Woo Hin Restaurant with my last order for the century. They closed after lunch on 31 August, to make way for the MRT project. This was the dim sum place that my grandpa & parents brought me to as a kid & I sat there reminiscing my childhood as I waited for my lunch for more than an hour. The hive of activity came to a halt when patrons finished up & vacated the restaurant. I was all morose & upset. Upset because I couldn’t come here anymore to savour their morning dimsum & morose because it was a childhood experience.

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Truly, the last order……
Thanks to Victor Chin, the renown artist of heritage buildings, who informed me about the event, I was able to make time to be a part of this festival of saying goodbye. I took a photograph with Madam Mooi, the daughter in law of the founder of the restaurant after chatting with her. She’s 82 years old! After circumventing the place with Aziz, Yoo Yee, a China Press journalist whom we met there & Felix who cycled all the way from Wangsa Maju, I was ready to go home. After 55 years of independence, I really wonder what we will achieved by removing heritage businesses & buildings……..

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Commuting With Foldies On Trains

We have to thank Well Tan of Folding Bike Trading for arranging with the authorities at Prasarana who manage the Light Rail Transit (LRT), Monorail (train) & RapidKL (bus) for allowing us folding bike cyclists to take our foldies onto their trains/buses during off-peak hours between 9am – 4pm & on weekends. We had a trial run at the launch back in December & I was invited to be a part of the maiden group to get onboard for our first ride to their headquarters at Sri Rampai station in Kuala Lumpur.

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Well with the authorities of Prasarana.

While the rest cycled from Well’s shop in Damansara Perdana, I was coming from the other end of town to the Kelana Jaya station & waited for everyone to arrive. As soon as they did, the press fired away!

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We were briefed that for a normal day, bags are to be used to store our foldies to prevent any injuries to other passengers if emergency brakes are applied. It was good to meet everyone with their ultra jiffy foldies. Five ladies were present including me. Well, Lai Peng, Anne & Ping were amongst some of the regular cyclists who did long distances weekly. I love my Oribike with Ezywheels allowing me to roll it when it’s folded.

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We were given a RM10 credit on our pass to access for the day. It took about 45 minutes to reach Sri Rampai station. The press conference was held to officially support the Car-Free Day & declare the trains accessible for folding bike cyclists!! Soon after, we were treated to a scrumptious buffet lunch & I headed back together with Kamarul, the Brompton biker accompanied by police officers!

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This is definitely a breakthrough in cycling for commuters in Malaysia. Bicycles had never been allowed in public transport but with the emergence of folding bikes, authorities are beginning to recognise & accept this trend & usage of bikes to open up access to us. Thank you, Prasarana & Well for negotiating for it!!! Definitely a milestone for Malaysia!

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The event was highlighted in the newspapers too!

The Selangor Heritage Trail on Wheelsâ„¢ Event on Boxing Day

This post appeared first on Detours US blog under the Ambassador Program of which I had become a part of. Detours is the maker of bike bags in the USA. You can see it here.

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Selangor Heritage Trail on Wheels was a cycling event that took approximately 100 cyclists to get to know the historical sites & places with heritage value at Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB), Selangor, Malaysia. We went to recce the places & earmarked them to let participants experience the splendour of that destination on bicycles! An initiative effort by the state government of Selangor under the Tourism & Environment portfolio of YB Elizabeth Wong, the Head of Tourism Executive Committee, we collaborated with the Hulu Selangor Town Council (Majlis Daerah Hulu Selangor or MDHS) to bring cyclists & cycling enthusiasts together to participate in a non-competitive, non-race event to seek out the heritage trail with a map on a route led by authorities.

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Traffic Police Station.
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How it looked like in the old days. It was once a church!

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Group photo with Well Tan (in white top to the left of person in black shirt) & her darling riders.

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So many foldies!!!

Recognising the need to reduce our carbon footprint, we designated two segments of the program for that day, one being the main trail in town, the other being the adventure trail to see the historical broken dam of Ampang Pecah, the Masjid (mosque), the Chinese & Indian temples located just outside of KKB town. The dam that collapsed in 1884, was responsible for flooding the old town of Kuala Kubu, causing the death in untold numbers, one of the reasons why they moved the old town that’s now submerged, to the new site called Kuala Kubu Bharu. There are a few churches in town & a lot of interesting eateries that have been around for ages. There’s a little quaint restaurant that used to serve chilled herbal tea in brandy bottles & ordering them is equally fun!

The cook in the kitchen of Teo Kee Restaurant at Big Tree in front of the post office in KKB.

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The heritage spots.

The route promised to be exciting with a famous Butter Sponge Cake shop as one of the stops & a police station that was formerly a church. Riders went to all the spots encompassing a 25km loop with a stop at a broken dam & a hot spring. At the end of the event, I was asked to do a similar event in a different district & it looks like the heritage trail will soon go places!

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Ampang Pecah, the broken dam.

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King George Monument

The town has a cycling lane, an effort to get citizens back to riding bicycles but the route of the heritage trail covered everywhere else.

I managed to get Folding Bike Trading to be the official supporting bicycle shop to standby with technical support for the cyclists & Lafuma as the sponsor of discount vouchers for the goodie bags. Even breakfast & lunch were catered for together with a lorry load of fruits (durians, dukus & rambutans) for the cyclists to feast on!

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Cyclists in full coloured fashion!

We asked the ladies to come dressed in their most fashionable attire as riding is not just about racing but about looking good on your bike! We wanted them to come accessorised with gadgets & bags too! Then we asked the men to come in anything but racing outfit. The photo opportunity depicted them in cool attire rather than in competition vests. They redefined Sightseeing on Wheels! The launch was officiated by the President of the town council, two Members of Parliament & head of police in the district & we had a bike acrobat to perform some really cool stunts that put people half his age to shame. 70+years Ramanathan did some calisthenics & balancing act on his bike to the stunned audience before the ride.

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Flag off!

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Bike acrobat & riding around the block.

As the country was developed without the cyclist in mind, we are helping the state gazette cycling lanes to make the roads safer to ride in & create any event that will bring cyclists together in numbers. Working with local councils who are all for the idea is a great experience & nothing beats the thrill of riding in the countryside discovering new places & finding food along the way. Follow my journey as we convince others to get on the bike again!

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Yours truly having a picture taken with YB Elizabeth Wong!

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Hot spring – a soak after a cool dip at the dam….

Lifestyle Change Begins With A Foldie!

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Folding Bike shop.

The recent craze for folding bikes, fondly known as foldies, has hit town & people are realising the sheer simplicity of packing it & tucking it in the car to go anywhere & ride. I was given a rundown by Andrew Sia, the Chief Reporter of The Star daily, for the kinds of foldies there are in the market. My first encounter with an ultra cool foldie, was in front of a hardware shop in Bangsar, where a Brompton bike was parked. I was gawking at it so much so that the owner came out to demonstrate how it’s folded & unfolded. The conversion of the rear rack to a little wheeled trolley won me over. This owner whose name I didn’t manage to get as I was so engrossed in his description of the usability of the bike, has been all over Europe cycling & recently got back from China. I was totally impressed! The bike had only 16inch wheels! When he told me of the price, I thought, wow, would someone actually spend RM6,000 on a foldie??? Well, I was so taken up by it, I started doing my own research & recalled that Andrew had one so I deluged him with questions & midnight calls because I was very eager to have one.

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ORi C8 Classic

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Top view of the bike when folded.

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Andrew taught me a lot on how to search for one that suited what I’d want in a bike. Aesthetics was important too. Above it all, functionality & foldability.

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I went around town searching for the perfect bike. I found that most bikes with good components start at RM1,000 & above. Most importantly, I wanted something close to a Brompton but not the price. When I found Folding Bike Trading, I was so ecstatic to see a similar designed model but much more compact than a Brompton bike. When I got to the shop, a beautiful lady by the name of Well Tan, greeted me & served me a cup of tea before she proceeded to ask me about what kind of cycling I would want to do. I told her I was thinking of touring & maybe just for daily fitness. She recommended me the ORi bike.

The ORiBikes are designed by the award winning designer Jon Whyte, a former Formula 1 engineer from the U.K. Stylish and functional, ORi folding bikes bring an unprecedented experience of performance and practicality. I especially liked the C8 Classic model where the saddle & handlebar wraps are made of leather. The way it folds matched what I saw in a Brompton bike & for the price of RM2,699 for a C8 Eco series, it’s less than half the price of a Brompton. The Instant Rebound Catch (IRC) mechanism enables ORi to fold up in seconds and easy to carry and store. The brilliant idea was inspired by the simple and intuitive operation of airplane safety belt. IRC also works as a reliable hinge locking the bike together when unfolding. Thanks to IRC, the safety and convenience are perfectly connected together. It even has an easy rolling kit to commute to & fro the LRT!

Well taught me more about foldies & how I should go about owning one. A far cry from a few shops that I had been to in town whose main business is selling & servicing roadies (road bikes/racers) or mountain bikers. Her knowledgable guidance convinced me that owning the right bike is to be done pridefully & no one should rush you into a buying decision. She answered every doubt that I might have & went on to serve me more tea. Then she explained the difference between mainstream bikes & foldies, that the purpose is totally different. A foldie is used for commuting & touring with ease of being able to bring your bike anywhere & everywhere with you. It sounded perfect for my lifestyle! And it wasn’t about competition.

The thing with conventional bike shops is, you always feel pressured into conforming to the norms of cyclists, what they should wear when cycling, what kind of accessories you must buy etc. but with a foldie, YOU ARE YOUR OWN STYLE. I will come up with some fashion bits advice for the ladies who wish to embark on this journey with me. Do let me know what your preferences are & I will detail what the change that the cycling scene needs.

With that, I took a forthnight to mull over it & after My Selangor Story 2011, I took home the ORi C8 Classic foldie! Well is giving a very special deal on the ORi bikes & if you tell her that you saw this on Pummkin’s Pitch, she would give you a 5% discount + a bike cover bag with a further RM30 off on selected helmets to help you get started!

I’ve decided to form an all-girl cycling group to get fit & have since recruited several ladies to join me in my pursuit. Will be organising more photo trips on foldies too so get into gear, guys! Do get your foldie from Well as she can explain in detail what you ought to get & what will save you money in the long run. I will detail with more pictures once I get to ride on my new foldie soon!

Meanwhile, check out her shop at:-

Folding Bike Trading
G 10, Emerald Plaza East,
Jalan PJU 8/3, Damansara Perdana,
47820 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor,
Malaysia.

Tel: +603 771 33 888
Mobile: +6016 393 2229 ( Well )
Fax: +603 771 33 222
Email: foldingbiketrading (at) gmail (dot) com

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The frontal black bag holds the bike cover inside.

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Groovy helmet to protect your main asset….