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“A Hidden Secret” – Exploring the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland – GravelBikes.Online

There is someone who is proud of where he lives, then there is Alain Rumpf, who has come to dedicate his life to educating others about the beauty of the area he calls home. It’s not that Rumpf simply hasn’t lived elsewhere in the world; he spent 20 years working for cycling’s world governing body, the UCI, where he traveled all over the world to do his job. “I cycled to almost every continent,” he says.

“I love the Dolomites and Tuscany. I love the French Alps and many other great places, but when I look at where I live, it’s definitely as good as many of those places. It’s not very well known, because we don’t have the Tour de France to show our mountains, but we do have big steps”, continues Rumpf.

“When you ask a cyclist: where are your dream destinations, they say, I want to climb the Stelvio, I want to go to France or I want to go to Flanders and for very good reasons. But what I’m passionate about is bringing people here and saying, hey, let me share secrets with you, let me show you how good it is.”

When Rumpf left his job at UCI in 2014, he helped build a bike vacation company by creating trips, doing marketing, nurturing customer relationships and guiding logistics. “I have to ride my bike for work,” he says with a smile. Rumpf currently works freelance, organizes some private trips but mainly creates content for brands and is an ambassador for a cycling clothing company. speed.

“We call it content creation, but I don’t like that because ‘content’ is bland and doesn’t really mean anything. I prefer to say that I like to share experiences about cycling, I write and film stories for media and brands about destinations”, he says. “I have a website for the local cycling community and it’s a very popular website, sharing local news and ideas about where to go, helping local events for promotion and things like that.”Rumpf’s most recent project has been one of his longest, but most rewarding. He describes it as something of a labor of love, creating a series of attractions that showcase the best of his canton (region in English), Vaud in Switzerland. It was all part of the region’s Année du Vélo in 2022, a year celebrating cycling as the Tour de France visited the area, the inaugural women’s edition of the Tour de Romandie and the equivalent event would take place male was celebrating his 75th birthday.

“They set up all these events and there were also some activities such as a pump track going around the region and stays in different towns for a few weeks, as well as campaigns on social networks, etc. This was to take advantage of the visit of the Tour de France,” explains Rumpf.

“About a year ago I got a call saying: our politicians have decided it’s the year of cycling, what can we do? Let’s find out what this means and how to do it. So we had different ideas, and this collection of attractions is actually something that I came up with. I thought we should have something that leaves a legacy. It’s not just an event, but something that stays behind.”

Rumpf explains that this was something of a dream project for him, something that would help him rediscover his own backyard, the area he has loved for so long. I ask him why he considers the Vaud region to be the perfect place for cycling and his answer is convincing.

“We have many roads, that is, we can find quiet roads. I can ride all year round, even in the peak tourist season, on quiet roads,” he says. “There is also a legendary quality, the Swiss quality, which applies to the roads. We have good roads, all with a good surface which I think is also an important part of the cycling experience. Also great landscapes, there are lakes, vineyards, mountains, country roads, it is a very diverse and very beautiful place to ride.”

So, once his idea to create a series of cycling routes in the area was approved, Rumpf got to work on the project. He planned to drive all the routes to make sure each road was as he remembered it, and then map it on the navigation app, Komoot, for anyone visiting the Vaud to access. Rumpf would also take photos while on the roads, hoping to attract people to the area with stunning images.

“In the beginning, I spent a lot of time at my desk doing research. Even though I’m familiar with all these roads, there were parts where I wanted to talk to someone from a local club, because he trains every day there, so I might know an alternative to a busy road or something,” Rumpf explains.

“That was the first phase, to make a first draft online. As soon as it was finished, it was about going myself. I wanted to go through all the loops myself, although I knew most of the roads, the i was doing one by one just to get a feel for the experience and make some tweaks here and there then as the weather was really nice and there were leaves on the trees and flowers in the fields the next phase was to shoot the loops”.

To take the photos of the landscapes that could be discovered on his beloved routes, Rumpf needed to find two models. With a lifetime in the world of cycling, there was plenty to choose from, but the Swiss first settled on someone he knew very well.

“I chose Luca, my best friend and my neighbor,” she says. “We live in the same town, and we are very much together, guiding the photography and different things. He was my personal goal.”

But Rumpf wanted a male and a female in the pictures, so she says she put out a call on Facebook for a female cyclist enthusiast. They put him in touch with Valentina, a Ukrainian refugee cyclist who had only arrived in Switzerland a few weeks earlier.

“It’s a story of history because we met and we knew about her. It was great to have that connection and understand what had happened. I think we also gave him this opportunity to disconnect and spend some time in this environment with us and maybe stop thinking about his situation and everything that was going on.”

The three riders had many kilometers to cover, while stopping to take photos along the route. That experience sparked a special bond between the group, something Rumpf says he will treasure forever. He speaks fondly as he shares anecdotes about some of the tough and funny moments that shaped the experience of riding the trails with his companions.

“North of the corner, there is a very small road in the forest. It is known to local cyclists but no one else. Luca has lived here for 15 years and I remember going up with him and suddenly he said to me: I had no idea that this road existed, this is so great, this is so cool,’ Rumpf smiles. That stays with me. I thought this is exactly what I want to share with everyone who will discover this collection.

As with any great challenge or adventure, there were some points where the trio struggled, however. Rumpf explains that the weather was a big challenge, and they had to be flexible with early starts and late finishes to make sure they caught the light at the right time of day.

“These were long days. The loop in my region is just over 100 kilometers with 2500 meters of elevation gain. It was a very, very long day. We had one last climb to get home and it was tough. The Valentina was struggling a bit, Luca was supporting her and I did my best to take pictures but not stop too much and let them go on and go home”, he explains.

Rumpf describes the feeling once the group had completed all the rides as a sense of relief. They had all been on a voyage of discovery. For Rumpf and Luca, it was about rediscovering the area they thought they knew so well and finding new gems along the way. For Valentina, it was getting to know this new place she had found herself, discovering the beauty it had to offer her in a turbulent and disturbing period of her life.

Perhaps Rumpf’s experience tells us all that sometimes beauty and adventure can be found at the door, and that we should all spend a little more time appreciating the nature and landscapes we cycle through. Rumpf now finds great satisfaction in seeing others use and follow his routes, allowing more people to discover the secret of the beauty of the Vaud he holds in his heart.

“I went back to places I hadn’t been in 10 years,” he says. “Some roads I had never even seen because I recommended them to friends. I rediscovered a lot and then being able to share it was amazing.”

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    • While the well-known wonders of Switzerland are undoubtedly breathtaking, uncovering hidden secrets adds an extra thrill to the adventure. Exploring lesser-known gems can offer a unique perspective and create unforgettable memories. Dont limit yourself to just the popular spots, go beyond the obvious and experience Switzerland in a whole new way. #ExploreOfftheBeatenPath

    • Seriously? Youre just now discovering the beauty of Vaud? Its been a must-visit destination for years! Get with the program, buddy. But hey, better late than never. Enjoy exploring the hidden gems!

  1. Wow, who knew Switzerland had so much to offer for gravel biking? Definitely adding it to my bucket list! #GravelBikingGoals

  2. Wow, who knew Switzerland had so much to offer for gravel biking? Definitely adding this to my bucket list!

  3. Wow, who knew Switzerland had so much to offer for gravel biking! Definitely adding Vaud to my bucket list!

  4. Wow, the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland sounds amazing! I never knew it had a hidden secret. Cant wait to explore it!

    • I hate to burst your bubble, but the hidden secret youre referring to in Canton of Vaud is hardly a secret. Its been known and loved by locals and tourists alike for years. But hey, better late than never. Enjoy your exploration!

  5. Wow, Switzerlands Vaud canton looks like a hidden treasure for gravel biking enthusiasts! Cant wait to explore it!

    • I hate to burst your bubble, but Switzerlands Vaud canton is far from being a hidden treasure for gravel biking enthusiasts. Its overcrowded, overrated, and lacks the real thrill. Youd be better off exploring other less hyped destinations.

    • Seriously? How have you not heard of Vaud before? Its been a well-known gem for ages! But hey, better late than never to add it to your list. Just be prepared to have your mind blown by its beauty and charm. Enjoy your trip!

    • Sure, hiking is great for exploring Canton of Vaud, but lets not dismiss the joy and speed of biking. A gravel bike offers a unique experience, covering more ground and accessing diverse terrains. So why limit yourself? Embrace both hiking and biking to truly appreciate the beauty of this region. #BestOfBothWorlds

  6. I never thought Switzerland could be so adventurous! Cant wait to explore Canton of Vaud on my gravel bike!

  7. Wow, who knew Switzerland had such a hidden gem like Canton of Vaud? Definitely adding it to my travel bucket list!

    • I hate to burst your bubble, but the Canton of Vaud is overrated. Its just a bunch of overpriced resorts and pretentious vineyards. Save your time and money, and explore somewhere else in Switzerland thats actually worth it.

  8. Wow, the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland sounds amazing! I never knew it had hidden secrets. Cant wait to explore it on my gravel bike!

  9. Wow, Switzerland looks amazing! I never thought of exploring the Canton of Vaud before. Adding it to my bucket list!

    • Im glad youre finally discovering the beauty of Switzerland. But seriously, how have you never considered exploring Vaud before? Its one of the most picturesque regions in the country! Dont worry, you wont be disappointed. Enjoy ticking it off your bucket list!

    • Seriously? How can you call Vaud a hidden gem? Its like one of the most popular regions in Switzerland! Maybe you should do some more research before jumping on the bandwagon. There are plenty of other lesser-known places worth exploring.

  10. Who needs hidden secrets when you can explore the more well-known and bustling cities? #TeamUrbanExploration

    • Hidden secrets are what make traveling truly exciting. While Switzerlands obvious beauty is undeniably captivating, its the hidden gems that offer a unique and authentic experience. Dont limit yourself to just the surface-level attractions; dig deeper and uncover the true essence of this remarkable country. #TravelBeyondTheObvious

    • Switzerland is full of surprises! Vaud is just the tip of the iceberg. Make sure to explore other regions too, like Zermatt, Lucerne, and Geneva. You wont be disappointed! Happy travels!

  11. Wow, I never knew Switzerland had such a hidden gem like the Canton of Vaud! Definitely adding it to my travel bucket list!

    • Sorry, but I have to disagree. Switzerland offers breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cities, and rich culture. While beach vacations are great, Switzerland has a unique charm that cannot be matched. Its all about personal preference, but dont knock it till youve tried it!

  12. Wow, I never knew Switzerland had so much to offer! Definitely adding Vaud to my travel bucket list now.

    • Uzbekistan may have its appeal, but dismissing Switzerland as meh is a baffling choice. With its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, Switzerland offers a unique experience thats hard to match. Dont knock it till youve tried it! #SwissEnchantment

  13. Wow, who knew Switzerland had such hidden gems for gravel biking? Definitely adding Vaud to my bucket list!

    • Roller skates are fine for leisurely spins, but lets be realistic. Exploring the Canton of Vaud requires a bike that can handle varied terrain. Gravel bikes offer versatility and stability that roller skates simply cant match. So, why settle for limitations when you can have the freedom to truly explore?

  14. Wow, who knew Switzerland had such a hidden gem in the Canton of Vaud? Definitely adding it to my travel bucket list!

    • Oh please, everyone knows about the beauty of the Canton of Vaud! Its no hidden gem. But sure, go ahead and add it to your travel list, just be prepared for the crowds of tourists who already discovered its charm ages ago.

    • Seriously? Youre just discovering Vaud now? Its been a tourist hotspot for years! Get with the times! But hey, better late than never. Enjoy exploring this amazing region, its totally worth it!

  15. Wow, Switzerland looks amazing! I never knew Vaud had such hidden secrets. Definitely adding it to my travel bucket list! #Wanderlust

  16. Wow, the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland seems like a real hidden gem! Cant wait to explore its gravel bike trails and stunning landscapes!

    • Are you serious? Switzerland has long been known for its incredible gravel biking trails. Its not some hidden secret. Maybe you should do your research before making uninformed comments.

  17. Wow, Switzerland looks amazing! I never knew the Canton of Vaud had such hidden secrets. Cant wait to explore!

    • Ive been to Vaud and trust me, its not all its cracked up to be. Dont waste your time and money. There are plenty of better places to visit. Keep looking!

    • Everyone has different preferences when it comes to travel. While Switzerland may not be for you, its unfair to dismiss it as overrated. Asia has its own hidden gems, but lets appreciate the beauty and charm that each destination offers.

  18. Wow, who knew Switzerland had such hidden gems for gravel biking? Definitely adding Vaud to my bucket list!

    • Switzerland is overrated! Dont waste your time on Vaud. The real hidden gems are in other countries. Expand your horizons and explore beyond the tourist trap.

    • Well, if you havent read the article, then why bother commenting? Its a waste of everyones time. Next time, try reading it before forming an opinion. It might actually be insightful.

    • Switzerland is overrated! Why waste time on Vaud when there are countless other destinations with more to offer? Expand your horizons and explore beyond the hype.

  19. Wow, Switzerland looks amazing! I never knew Vaud had so much to offer. Definitely adding it to my travel bucket list!

    • Switzerland on a gravel bike? Are you serious? Thats like taking a Ferrari off-roading. Stick to the scenic train rides and chocolate, buddy.

  20. Wow, Switzerlands Canton of Vaud seems like a hidden gem for gravel biking! Whos up for an adventure there?

  21. Wow, who wouldve thought Switzerland had such hidden gems for gravel biking? Definitely adding Vaud to my bucket list!

    • Are you kidding me? Vaud is so overrated! There are far better places for gravel biking in Switzerland. Do your research and dont settle for tourist traps.

  22. Wow, who knew Switzerland had such amazing gravel bike trails? Definitely adding Vaud to my bucket list!

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