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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

MOUNTAINS TO CLIMB

DOMINIC BLISS GOES BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE WORLD CYCLING CENTRE IN THE SWISS ALPS, BUT GETTING THERE IS NO EASY RIDE

Cycling guide Alain Rumpf – known, I’m told, as “The Swiss with a pulse” – is by far the fittest cyclist I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding with. Whippet-thin and with an uphill acceleration that has you shaking your head in disbelief, he’s king of the roads in this part of western Switzerland.

I'm assuming his nickname is a reference to his low heart rate and supreme fitness, because right now he’s giving us a proper beasting on the steep mountain roads of the Vaud canton, aka Les Alpes Vaudoises. By the looks of it, his pulse is still fairly normal. Mine, on the other hand, is like a jackhammer.

I’ll admit I’m out of my comfort zone. With the temperature pushing 35 degrees, I’m in a group of nine riders pedalling hard to keep up on the long climbs. Our first day, a swift 25km with 720 metres of climbing, had been just a dip of the toe in the water. Our second was when the real riding began: a 94km ride with 1,830 metres of climbing over three mountain passes.

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