Our Ambassadors are our eyes and ears and feet on the ground in places around the world that we cannot be. Alain Rumpf lives in the heart of cycling heaven – the Swiss Alps. He’s been on his bike and competitive since he was a teenager, and now rides for the pleasure of discovering great roads and seeing beautiful places. In addition to his awesome photos, Alain shares a story about how he and his soon-to-be wife have found riding friends through Strava.
Alain Rumpf: I do admit, I have a mild addiction to KOMs. With my girlfriend Lillie Croft, we are lucky to live in the Swiss Alps where our commute home is a category 1 climb. I was 12 seconds off the KOM on this segment until the Tour de Romandie organizers made the terrible decision to include our climb in this year’s queen stage. Since then, I know exactly what separates ‘us’ (the weekend warriors) from ‘them’ (the Tour de France stars such as Strava athlete Laurens ten Dam). In my case, nearly 4 minutes and 2.5 km/h. I only managed to ‘beat’ French wonder boy Thibaut Pinot by 13 seconds because he recorded his time at the end of a long training ride in the Swiss mountains. And I am sure he stopped for coffee along the way.
Lillie is the same. She’s a good all-round endurance athlete, but she was not competitive with her hill climb times until she found Strava; or rather, until I got her on Strava, as good ambassadors do. She became the QOM on a lot of our local mountain climbs and I think she really enjoyed being a queen. Who wouldn’t?
The Queen of the Mountain
To be fair, there were not many women riding in our area, and Lillie would often complain about that. As a Swiss man, riding my bike as hard as I can and bragging about it is often enough to make me happy. Lillie, being from California, is a social butterfly who will languish if she is not surrounded by friends. Her spirit will ignite any group and can always find a way to have fun and usually even create the group. For example, she likes to ride her bike in a dress.
Then, one day came the dreaded email, « Uh oh, Jacqui Coward just stole your QOM ». It was on our home climb, and Jacqui’s time was super fast (and when I mean fast, I mean faster than the majority of our male friends). Lillie got very mad and spent the whole evening checking Jacqui’s Strava profile, googling her name, trying to figure out who she was and why she was so strong. At one point, she even questioned whether Jacqui was even a girl.
I told Lillie, “you should be happy, you keep complaining there are so few women riding around here and now there is a new one”. I then suggested, “you should contact her, and invite her for a ride.” Lillie continued to mumble for a while but finally left a comment on one of Jacqui’s rides.
Jacqui replied, of course. She was new to our area, so Lillie invited her to do a long “touristy” ride to Gruyères (home of the best Swiss cheese).
New Best Friends in Cheeseland
Jacqui turned out to be a super sweet girl, and a bloody strong cyclist. Originally from Canada where she was a mountain biker, she moved to Switzerland and started riding on the European roads. You may see her name pretty high on leaderboards of prestigious climbs such as the Passo Giau in the Italian Dolomites.
Since then, Lillie and Jacqui have developed a great friendship and we’ve all been on many adventures together, including a memorable ride up the mighty Col de Joux-Plane in nearby France, and our favorite loop from home.
Jacqui is not the only cyclist we’ve met through Strava. Several of our biking friends were just names that showed up on a leaderboard, and we were excited when we finally met them in person. Strava is much more than just for challenging yourself and invisible opponents on an online leaderboard (which in itself is already a lot of fun). Strava can also be social and an opportunity to meet like-minded people with whom you can share awesome adventures on the bike with. Without Strava, Lillie may never have met Jacqui.
So, go check out the leaderboards on your favorite segments and see who could become your new best cycling buddy. Leave a comment on his or her profile and see what happens!
PS: Lillie recently took six minutes off her best time. She’s still way behind Jacqui as QOM, but she will continue to try!