Is it possible to turn your passion project into a thriving business?
Well, it depends – there are many variables at play – but according to Maxence Carron and Adrià Mercadé, co-founders of e-Alps and certified MTB guides, it is possible! It may not be easy. It may require sleepless nights, sacrificing doing some of the things you love, working grueling hours, and being very persistent. Still, it’s definitely feasible when you believe in yourself and your project and surround yourself with the right people.
A shared love for mountain biking, adventure travel, and the Alps brought Max and Adrià, two outdoor enthusiasts, together to co-found e-Alps, a leading e-mountain bike travel agency specializing in alpine adventures in the heart of the Swiss Alps.
In this blog article, our very own Max and Adrià share the story behind e-Alps – how the idea of e-MTB tours through the Alps came about and materialized and talk about the values of e-Alps. They also share some of their favorite highlights along the Haute Route, and their bike and culinary preferences.
We hope their story will inspire you to go after your dreams (whether embarking on a two-wheeled adventure – like a bike trip – starting a new hobby or creating the job of your dreams).
From bike packing to traversing the Alps on an electric bike
What started as a passion project, based on an innovative idea during a bike packing trip through the Mongolian Steppes eight years ago, turned into a thriving company that curates high-alpine e-bike adventures for an international clientele. Besides the goal of making these experiences – as Max and Adrià call them – awe-inspiring and enriching for their clients, they also have a positive impact on local tourism, helping support local economies and promoting alpine culture.
Originally from Barcelona, Spain, Adrià’s love for bikes started at an early age when he set out on adventures with friends to explore the rolling mountains in Catalonia. His passion for exploration and big mountains brought him to Switzerland, which he now calls home. An adventurer at heart, when he is not riding, Adrià is paragliding or ski touring. He is also a foodie and loves savoring the local delights of every place he visits – one of the best ways of discovering a culture. This is a trademark of every e-Alps experience.
Max, on the other hand, is a local. Born and raised in Fully, a picturesque village at the foot of the imposing Grand Chavallard Mountain in the Rhone Valley, Max grew up with the Alps as his playground (and what a playground!). He has been on two wheels for as long as he can remember. He proudly recalls winning a silver medal at his first MTB race at age ten. His drive and determination have been pivotal in creating e-Alps and carving a niche in mountain biking tourism in the region. When Max wants something, he is relentless – whether that’s conquering a summit, traversing the Haute Route by e-mountain bike, curating and drying meat with his dad (a staple on every e-Alps picnic), or founding his own company.
So, it was only natural that their shared passion for mountain biking and adventure would put these two mountain enthusiasts (of complementary personalities) on the same path.
It all began when Adrià planned a bike-packing adventure to Mongolia with friends who brought Max along. Despite being strangers, they shared a tent for one month and remained friends afterward. After the trip and Adrià’s return from a year-long solo bike-packing adventure in South America, they decided to try e-bikes. They were hooked, and a fire for high Alpine e-bike adventures was lit.
E-bikes opened the door to adventures on a much larger scale, making remote places more accessible. Traversing the Alps on a bike no longer seemed like such a far-fetched idea. So, with the most mythical Haute Route on their doorstep and their shared passion for mountaineering, tackling the Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route seemed a natural choice to Adrià and Max. They decided to have a go at exploring it and in Max’s words: ‘We were blown away by what we discovered.’
More than a bike tour, it's a feast for the soul and senses
Shortly after, e-Alps was born. Their vision is ‘to go beyond the conventional one-day guided bike tour and instead focus on providing multi-day experiences.’ It was no small feat. When they first presented the idea, they were told by fellow mountain bike guides that ‘it would never work because it would be too complicated,’ as Max explained. But he did not back down. He was sure that this would be a one-of-a-kind adventure.
They were the first company to propose e-MTB guided tours through the Haute Route. But more than just a guided MTB trip, they wanted an authentic and holistic experience out of the ordinary. Adrià noted they wanted an immersive experience encompassing all the ingredients of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure – from local cuisine and traditional accommodations to local guides and top-notch trails with breathtaking backdrops. It's a holistic adventure.
So, how did this crazy adventure turn out? According to Adrià, at the beginning, ‘it was a seven-night/ eight-day experience! We didn’t want to miss any good singletrail. The crazy thing is that we’ve got more than 40 clients the first summer.’
Adrià and Max have not looked back since. The company has grown steadily over the past six years, offering eight alpine experiences (Haute Routes) catering to different levels and a summit-to-sea riding and sailing adventure in Tuscany.
The company’s values reflect the essence of MTB and Max and Adrià’s passion for the Alps: keeping it local, familiar, and, above all, having a good time. As Adrià puts it, it’s about that ‘love for nature, the thrill of a fun ride and the pleasure of sharing an after-ride beer with friends’.
While it has not been an easy journey, it has been well worth it. As they put it, the journey of e-Alps has been like traversing the Haute Route. The journey to the summit has been challenging, but getting there has been extremely rewarding.
Favorite Haute Route highlights (on and off the bike)
With such spectacular views, charming villages, and prime trails, it is hard to single out a particular highlight along the Haute Route. However, some spots have stuck in Max’s and Adrià’s hearts.
For Max, the departure from the quaint village of La Sage in Val d’Anniviers is a gem. Those pristine and vast landscapes still take his breath away. After a 1,500-meter demanding climb, a delightful trail zigzagging down a rugged ridge awaits – a mountain biker’s dream. Of course, no visit to the Alps would be complete without visiting the iconic Matterhorn. This is a must-see landmark for Max when riding in the Swiss Alps and should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Zermatt. In Max’s words, ‘the Haute Route is a trip you will never forget!’
For Adrià, the views of the four 4,000m peaks in Val d’Anniviers after the challenging climb to the Col de Torrent still leave him with bated breath. And, of course, the fact that it's all downhill from there to the crystalline waters of Moiry Lake makes the experience all the sweeter.
Adrià's favorites are remote, off-the-beaten-path places (not on your traditional ‘to-do’ list). For example, Val d’Anniviers, with its postcard-perfect town and emerald Moiry Lake, is a hidden jewel he loves visiting. When asked if he has any advice for anyone wishing to complete the Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route, he recommends being ready to embrace an incredible adventure and practicing MTB skills. The Alpine downhills can sometimes be pretty challenging!
But the Haute Route is about more than just the views and landscapes. Local cuisine and wine are also experiences in and of themselves. Max's favorite is a succulent raclette with alpine Valais cheese, and his favorite wines are the Petite Arvine – a white wine variety produced in Fully – and Sassicaia – a red wine from Tuscany. Adrià is more of a fondue man. It’s a great dish to share with friends. As for the wine? It’s simple for Adrià: White for the apéro and red for eating!
Finally, they’re both fans of flat pedals and going uphill, as long as a good descent follows.
These two passionate individuals with a shared love for biking and adventure travel are convinced that when you believe in your dreams, you can achieve them. E-Alps stands as a testament to this philosophy. The journey may be long and bumpy, but you will eventually get there with enough determination and drive. So, get out, work on it, and send it!
Want to learn more about the story of e-Alps and the creation of each experience? Check out our timeline here: https://e-alps.com/en/e-alps-history/.
Learn more about the history and evolution of the Haute Route as an itinerary for mountain enthusiasts: https://e-alps.com/en/alps-stories-blog/what-s-the-haute-route/.
We discovered this Alpine gem when we started crafting our Haute Route adventures, and it really stuck with us. The uniqueness of this place and the concept it embodies – slowing down to savor life – mirrors the holistic nature of our experiences and prompted us to share with you the story of this unique cabin in the woods.
Dans le cadre des trois itinéraires principaux du Cercle Alpin, de nombreuses expériences sont proposées pour découvrir certains des points forts de cet incroyable itinéraire. Pour les amateurs de VTT, le Cercle Alpin propose deux circuits de plusieurs jours en vélo électrique en partenariat avec e-Alps : Le Cercle Alpin Ruta Ost et le Cercle Alpin Ruta Vest.
Plus que des circuits en vélo électriques, nos Hautes Routes sont des expériences mêlant l’aventure à la découverte culturelle. Avec e-Alps, vous partez aussi goûter aux saveurs locales. Ouvrez très grand vos papilles, c’est un voyage gustatif qui s’offre à vous.