Osmo was proud to support the first ever Swiss CrissCross: A group of riders who rode the smooth pavement one way across Switzerland and back on dirt in the other direction. At the end of the two-week tour we checked in with CrissCross organizer and leading outdoor photographer Dan Patitucci to see how road and mountain compared, what he ate and drank, and what terrain yielded the best photos. –Eds.
How many miles did you guys ride each day, and what kind of elevation gains did you have? On the road we did about 90 miles each day, with 8,000-10,000 feet climbed. On the mountain bikes much fewer miles, slow going, 30-40 miles each day with 6,000-9,000 feet of climbing. On the dirt there was a lot of walking and carrying the bikes over steep passes.
You rode first on road bikes then on mountain bikes, how do the two modes of transport compare in Switzerland? The roads in Switzerland are truly perfect. Nowhere else have I ever seen such perfect tarmac that is silky smooth. (Roads are made using shredded car tires, so they are silent to ride on.) The surface is dreamy so the ride is easy in that respect, you can just ride your bike. On mountain bikes it is tough; the trails are well defined and great, but they are trails in the big mountains, rocky, narrow, steep and in the forest with lots of roots. Overall, our route was great, in the mountains it is inevitable that not everything will be perfect for a bike to move through. We had dreamy sections of singletrack, but we also had horrible sections to carry through!
What was the best part of the CrissCross on the road? The route through the Alps, pass after pass, always in the mountains.
What did each day look like in terms of hydration and fueling? In Europe there are fountains everywhere, you learn to know where they will be based on how villages are laid out. You can count on them. I carry only one water bottle and just stop more often. I think only once, on the Lukmanier Pass, did we actually find ourselves searching out water. Since we had a support car we were able to refill with Osmo as needed.
As soon as we arrived at the hotels we used the Acute Recovery drink mixed with a yogurt drink we like, but diluted with water. It went down really well and undoubtedly helped the body to recover. Before bed we used the GoodNight Recovery, again in the yogurt drink. I don’t know if it was the mix or the fact we were tired, but we slept well. Typically I am a bit agitated after big days, my heart rate higher and somewhat restless, but I didn’t feel this. I suspect the drink played a role to get my body to relax and have much needed sleep.
Did you eat more than you usually do on rides? While riding, surprisingly no. On the road I ate normally, my calorie intake was maybe 10% higher than normal. But on the mountain bike segment my appetite kicked in after nearly two weeks of riding. I was seeing Swiss livestock as BBQ items!
What’s the best meal you guys had? Overall, we ate like kings, on the road and mountain. Most hotels had extraordinary kitchens. The standout meal would have to be in Ulrichen, when we arrived in the Wallis on mountain bikes. The hotel owner was incredible, she knew of our project and treated us to a feast. Entrecote, Swiss Rösti, sweet peas, she even came out and offered seconds and then a hot chocolate tort for dessert.
Do you feel like you had a good chance to experiment/ test with Osmo products? It was the perfect lab, absolutely. I feel like I know the Active Hydration and Acute Recovery mixes best. I used the Active mix throughout and really appreciate how it sits in my stomach. I like that the flavor is mild and not overly sweet. Typically, I crave salty food around hour four. On the road segment we had 5-6 hour days and I did not get this craving. I was able to mostly eat what I carried, but also use the drink mix. As I was feeling balanced, I think this would be an ideal system for competition as there aren’t strong needs to get a new fuel source beyond what can be easily obtained.
What kind of Osmo Active intake have you had? Probably 5-7 bottles a day of Active Hydration, one Recovery, one GoodNight. And in the morning prior to riding, one PreLoad. I was a perfect lab rat!
Were you feeling any difference when you started out each morning? On the road I felt perfect. Truly, each day I was fresh and felt I was actually getting stronger instead of worn down. The days weren’t so hard and we didn’t have to ride hard, but nevertheless effort was being put out. I’d say on the road my body was handling the stress perfectly and it was a result of proper preparation, nutrition, and rest.
The mountain biking was different. Here we had stresses beyond cycling. Suddenly our legs weren’t just pedaling, they were hiking steep passes pushing or carrying a heavy freeride bike. And the riding was not smooth pedaling but awkward cadence. This started to wear us down. Unlike on the road, mornings were tough, the bike didn’t always sound like a wonderful way to spend the day. But, an hour into the day and the body adapted. Later, by day four, the body came to understand that it is just what it did and it was less of a harsh wake up each day. For road bikers like me, having to move around one of these heavy bikes was a whole body workout, not just the legs and lungs. There was a necessary adaptation period.
What has been the most scenic part of the trip? The entire trip was amazing. From one end to the other, and back again, Switzerland is truly paradise. The Alps have this special feeling. Whereas in the US we have these wild places that we love and appreciate, in the Swiss Alps there is a combined ruggedness and raw beauty, yet people live within it in such a beautiful way. These tiny villages and farms that dot the big mountains are, for an American, something really special. Part of the beauty of the Alps is more than the natural beauty, it is what humans have done within it.
If I had to pick a couple of highlights, they was the Grosse Scheidegg in the Berner Oberland above Grindelwald and the Aletschgletscher above the Wallis. The Grosse Scheidegg has to be the single most beautiful pass in the Alps as it is a narrow road, closed to cars, that twists and turns beneath a towering was off limestone capped with glaciers. The Aletschgletscher is Europe’s largest glacier and has trails paralleling it on its moraines. It looks like something from the Himalaya or Alaska, and to be able to pedal along part of its length gives you this crazy perspective of how big the area is.
What yielded the best photos? The road biking shows off the passes and quality of the Swiss riding experience. But it is just the highest quality road biking. The mountain biking was a complete package, a story beyond being on a bike. Therefore, as a story, the mountain biking is a richer experience. It had everything a great trip requires to be a special experience.