A mountain pass route guaranteed to delight. Accompanying racing bike guide Alain Rumpf on his favourite tour of the Vaud Alps.
Picturesque vineyards with impressive views of the Alps, low-traffic passes that get your calves burning and culinary temptations along the way: the Vaud Alps hold a wealth of fascination for racing cyclists. It’s no wonder that racing bike guide Alain Rumpf takes particular pleasure in giving his guests a tour of the place he grew up in.
Nestled between mountains and vines, Aigle Castle protects the authentic old town of Aigle and its picturesque streets. From the centre of the village, it’s a short train ride to the mountain resorts and the shores of Lake Geneva making Aigle the ideal base for lots of days out, except there’s already so much to do here.
Scaling the Col de la Croix is a great feat – one you have to work hard on accomplishing! At an elevation of more than 1,300 metres, the 23 kilometres of this mountain pass route make it the longest and toughest in Switzerland. The last few panoramic kilometres wind their way through forests and along luscious alpine pastures, while the Dents du Midi mountain range surges up behind you.
You can take the time to warm up a bit during the first few kilometres in the Rhône Valley just after Aigle. The road then snakes through vineyards around a series of never-ending bends. Once you have passed Aigle Castle, the road takes you through the traditional villages of Bex and Gryon.
No pass is like the next.
Three mountain passes make up the classics of the Vaud Alps: Col de la Croix (1,778m ), Col du Pillon (1,546m ) and Col des Mosses (1,445m ). Alongside the infinitely beautiful Col de la Croix, Col du Pillon’s proximity to the Diablerets Glacier makes it enthralling, as do its alpine surroundings. And even the Tour de France – testimony to the route’s quality – traversed the Col des Mosses in 2016. It’s no wonder that the three mountain passes feature in the enjoyable must-do programme for the guests of Alain Rumpf, racing cyclist and tour guide.
Cycling is a way of life
Vaud native Alain Rumpf has made a profession of his passion for racing cycling. He discovered the sport at the age of 12 after his mother gave him a newspaper article about racing bike tours organised by Vevey Cycling Club. Alain took part in one of the events – and it was love at first sight.
Roads that are a treat.
Alain Rumpf has been in the cycling business for more than 20 years. He started off as an elite cyclist at regional and national level. He went on to become Chief Cycling Officer for the Grand Tour project, which involves creating unique cycling adventures for racing cyclists that he takes part in himself as guide. He has lived for more than 15 years in the Vaud Alps and knows them like the back of his hand.
“When I put together a tour for my guests, I place a lot of emphasis on panoramic roads with little traffic”, explains Alain. “What’s more, a well-planned route demonstrates just how diverse the region is – such as the ascent to Col de la Croix or the sudden jaw-dropping view of magical Lake Geneva.”
Gaining an insight into the life of the natives is something that Alain’s tour guests are always looking for. “A village like Rougement is an ideal place to make a stop. The rustic wooden houses in the village centre have two separate entrances. Here several generations lived under one roof, each with their own access”, explains Alain.
L’Etivaz cheese dairy
After an altitude gain of so many metres, guests sometimes need a little break. Alain Rumpf plans to stop at L’Etivaz cheese dairy, where mountain milk from the surrounding farms is made into cheese. The cellar with its floor-to-ceiling shelves of cheese is an impressive sight. L’Etivaz AOP is a hard cheese made of cow’s milk that is heated during production over an open fire of spruce wood. This is the reason for its very spicy and smoky taste.
After storing away your racing bike for the day, a glass of Chasselas to go with a platter of cheese is just what you need. The cyclists still feel their calves burning from making the ascent through the vineyards.