Meet tour leader Alain Rimondi
Always a customer favorite, tour leader Alain grew up in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, a land that fed him with a secular culture – and arguably the best cuisine in Italy! After a year-long solo bicycle tour around Europe, he discovered his passion for bike travel and met Cycle Europe (based in Forlì, also in Emilia Romagna) starting a career as a tour leader. He currently studies Tourism Management and lives in Trento, in the very heart of the majestic Dolomites (a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site). Alain feels fortunate to be ever inspired by the beauty that surrounds him and loves to share his passion with other adventurous travelers, pedaling and discovering together that which awaits behind the corner.
Soon to depart on our Pedaling Lake Garda and the Veneto tour, we caught up with Alain between final exams and weekend mountain escapes. Read on and get to know him a little better, or come meet him in person on one of our guided cycling tours in Italy.
Why did you decide to start leading cycling tours?
I definitely feel I personify the Italian saying “You wanted the bicycle? Now pedal!” I received a bicycle as a gift years ago. At first, I liked cycling for the personal challenge – until I realized this challenge was comparable to multiple other situations in life. Eventually, biking become more than a simple sport, or a hobby involving physical effort. Acknowledging this made me very aware of being pro-active and positive, and the desire to share this with others soon brought me to becoming a full-time tour leader.
Where is your favorite place to ride?
I admit I can be quite picky about food, weather, sometimes distance – but never about the place. I feel it is secondary to the people you share it with, and it’s the people you are with that make a place unforgettable. I’ve had several experiences travelling and biking on my own. But, the reason why I remember certain places more than others has to do with the people that accompanied me.
What do you like the most about cycling?
I think of a bicycle as a tool that came to me by chance, when I didn’t expect to be surprised by its multiple’s qualities. The bicycle is a tool that makes you fit. Being fit makes you happy, being happy connects you with people, connections makes you share experiences with them. It is all about enrichment and having a wonderful time with our fellow travel companions.
How do you enjoy yourself when you’re not leading tours?
Sports have always been part of my life. My parents used to take me hiking in the mountains before I was able to walk. Today, I am grateful to them for the gifts they provided me. When the roads are covered with snow, I take my board and enjoy some snowboarding. When I am near water, I bring my windsurf. When I find someone willing to sing by a fireplace, I like to play the acoustic guitar. Finally, when I am travelling, I love reading books.
What do travelers say surprises them the most when they visit Italy?
Sometimes we need an external point of view to enlighten us about things that are part of our daily routines. It is thanks to travelers that I am aware that I live in a country where history is easy to find, like “bread at the market”. Italy is built like a puzzle, with thrilling stories behind every piece, including the Italians themselves, and how they communicate using language, body and hands in every expression they convey. Maybe the best surprise for travelers cycling through Italy is seeing a landscape that is ever-changing, natural and manmade, in uncountably different ways. That’s when they can feel they are also part of the Italian puzzle.
What about Emilia-Romagna, the place where you grew up?
Imagine a wide fizzy river flowing at the foothills of a gentle, green landscape. These hills are dotted with fortified hamlets since the Middle Ages. On the slopes, vineyards as far as you can see are waiting for harvest at just the right time. People are warm and welcoming, but also productive, with an indescribable perception of life. In this land we produce some of the world’s top engineering masterpieces, such as Ducati motorbikes and Ferrari sport cars. At the same time, we are happy to enjoy the simplicity of a day-long Sunday meal, together with the people we care for. We are also sure of our origins, with clear ideas of how to improve our future.
What would be included in your favorite meal?
You won’t be surprised to hear that I eat pasta once a day. I would also be very happy to share with you my favorite dish – pasta, of course! It is called Gramigna, panna e salsiccia and it is hard to find out of my native region. Gramigna has a cute spiral shape, decorated by a rich, white cream sauce with flavorful chopped sausage floating on top.
If you could do any Cycle Europe trip which one would you pick and why?
When summer leaves space for autumn, the days become shorter and the weather starts to change, I would bike all the way down the Italian peninsula for a taste of real chocolate in Modica, Sicily. Our Baroque Cities to Capital of Magna Grecia bike tour will reward me with a sublime chocolate square melting in my mouth, enjoying the grainy feeling combined with the unique cocoa bean flavor. A view of the Mediterranean Sea and the greatness of ancient temples crowning the hilltops are the perfect backdrop to this singular sensation.