There is a saying that goes “if you can’t beat them, join them.” And in the biking world, Nurul Alis Aidil Akhbar takes the lead.
Otherwise known as “Kiki”, one might recognise her as a former RTM sports presenter or spot her on the highways proudly sitting astride her Ducati Monster.
As her career in the media industry took off in the late 1990s, her involvement in the local motorsports playground kick-started.
During a recent chit chat session, her brimming collection of bikes and a Nissan GTR parked nicely in her front porch indicated she is as good as what she seems.
Having recently turned 40 and retired from the media industry, Kiki laid open what ignited her passion in cars and later, motorbikes.
“I started my career in the industry when I was only 19. The business opened up a lot of doors and I was just so eager to try my hands at anything,” she said.
You would be surprised that she who is happily-married with four children, at one point in her life had a pilot’s license.
“Back in the 90s, no airlines were hiring females. So, I had to abandon my dreams of becoming a pilot, and that was when my interest shifted to racing,” Kiki said.
She served the public broadcaster as a sports presenter cum commentator, and with invitations to sports events landing on her desk by the minute, her interest in automobiles only grew stronger.
As she reminisced her days as a sports desk host, she opened up about her first track experience.
“In 2000, I was involved in go-karting and had several podium finishes. Then, Proton offered to have me race with a stock car, a Proton Putra. The Sepang circuit just opened then,” Kiki said.
Despite it being her first car race, she managed a third placing.
Later, she started making a name for herself in autocross. Having made several successful podium finishes between 2002 and 2005, Kiki only had so many trophies to take home.
Then again, that was not enough.
The idea of straddling two-wheelers surfaced in 2004 when she owned a Honda F4 sports bike. But her dreams were put on hold to make way for family.
“In 2004, I started picking up biking again but I was pregnant. So I sold the bike off,” Kiki said.
Having said that, Kiki ended up purchasing a Ducati Monster in 2011. A year later, she sold it off to a friend and upgraded to a Diavel.
Her personal collection also includes yellow Vespa which she uses for casual riding.
“My motorsports hobby has slowed down a bit now. I am more focused towards grooming and teaching people who want to learn to ride bikes,” it turned out.
She added: “Whatever I do goes hand-in-hand with my children’s upbringing. There’s always a bigger scope to everything I do. Family, work and hobby must be interconnected.”
Then again, there is always a question of female empowerment and breaching the female stereotype.
“I’m not trying to prove anything. Men used to tell me I need to be strong to handle big motorbikes. But as it turned out, motorcycle riding was not so difficult,” she said.
As the president of Desmodonna Malaysia, an all-female subordinate group under Ducati Club Malaysia, she works together with about 30 members, coordinating activities and convoys.
“We could go as far as Thailand,” Kiki said, adding that the club members now consist of teachers, lecturers, businesswomen, entrepreneurs and housewives.
Asked about her “favourite riding track”, the name “Karak” rolled off her tongue gracefully.
“The Karak Highway is a nice place to take your bike for a ride, especially in the morning,” she said.
“Sometimes we would ride all the way up to Genting Highlands for our roti canai or to Port Dickson for our nasi lemak. It’s always about catching up with friends for our regular teh tarik session.”
Kiki bagged a handful of achievements in both her career and sports.
In honour of her abiding achievement as a sports and media personality and activist, Kiki won the Kelab Sukan Dan Rekreasi RTM Angkasapuri Award last year. She was the youngest recipient then.
The award, according to her, makes her honoured to be placed on the same row as Dato Rahim Razali, Marina Chin and Datuk Hasbullah Awang, all recognised as sports industry veterans, given her young age.
Later, she went on to be the first female sports presenter to be awarded with the Pingat Jasa Kebaktian, and a finalist for the Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian in the best sports presenter category.
Of course, what is life without tragedy, especially when it concerns a cracked helmet and broken bones.
“I was very active in go-karting back in 1997. The riders were approaching the first corner when one of them suddenly hit me,” she recounted.
She continued: “He panicked and pressed on his brakes. His cart twitched, hit mine and there was wheel-to-wheel contact, which caused us to hit another driver.”
“My cart was smacked so hard that it flew, and unfortunately I flew out of it. I landed on the track before it landed on me.”
So much has Nurul Alis achieved in her life. Blessed with a beautiful family, a great career and having unlocked her motorsports talent at an early age, for this woman of parts, life is great.