Tucked within a small shopping center on Avenida José Larco, Lima Bici is an independently owned bike shop and bike tour company. What began as just a small business to sell bikes 18 months ago, Lima Bici started to give tours after customers repeatedly asked one of the owners, Arnauld Balanche, if he offered these. Over time, interest in cycling in Lima has grown and the city has made efforts to expand its network of cycle lanes, or ciclovias.
Lima Bici offers tourists an eco-friendly option to see the sprawling city, known primarily for its car culture. Likewise, tourists will have the opportunity to visit places not typically included via standard tours, due to the flexibility of having bikes as the mode of transport instead of unwieldy tour vans and buses. The most common city tours can take groups, never more than 8 persons per guide, to museums as well as key tourist spots like the Plaza de Armas, and the pyramids at Huaca Pucllana. But you can also visit off-the-beaten-path places like La Herradura, which forms part of the rugged coastline in the less visited neighborhood of Chorrillos. The tours give visitors the option of a convenient way to get around the city without having to venture on their own. They are also low-key – so no standing out as the obvious pack of tourists in a giant bus following a guide outfitted in a shade of neon.
Since Lima Bici’s early beginnings, Arnauld, who hails from France, and his Peruvian partner have looked to expand their offerings. Their food and bike tour, where one can try classic dishes including ají de gallina and ceviche as well as sample locally brewed beer, is one of their more popular and they’re currently looking to develop more for 2017. One idea is to have a tour focusing on visiting very local eateries called huariques, all located within the Surquillo neighborhood which, although just bordering Miraflores, is not exactly a tourist hot-spot. How do they come up with these new ideas? The formula is simple – they listen to the feedback of travel agencies and their customers, and find ways to adapt this to their operation, which relies on local one-to-one partnerships with the businesses.
Fun new ventures aside, Lima Bici does much more than just offer tours and sell bikes – it also tries to give back to the community. Through a friend of his, Arnauld heard about the Lima-based Asociación Niños del Río, a French-Peruvian NGO that seeks to provide a safe house for orphaned children. They have open doors as long as the children are respectful and follow the basic rules – no drugs, no weapons. In return, they are given a home, a chance to continue their education or if they’re a bit older, an opportunity to learn a trade. Arnauld invites kids from the home to regularly come to the shop. Here they can indulge their curiosity about the bikes or go out for a ride. Occasionally he organizes group visits to museums or sports activities. On top of this, for every person taking a bike tour, Lima Bici donates 1 sol to the Asociación Niños del Río.
Lima Bici is not your average tour company. And cycling is not your average tourist activity in this city. But if you are on the lookout for a unique way of exploring the Peruvian capital, a bike tour is definitely a way to do it. If you happen to be in Miraflores, pop by the Lima Bici shop on Avenida José Larco 812 to find out more information about their tours and what they do. Otherwise, visit their site: http://www.limabici.com/. And for more biking inspiration and everything you need to know about cycling during your trip to Peru, check out the latest guide from #SensePeru.