As well as being a chocolate-fest, last weekend was a great weekend for longboarding in general. As in Switzerland the Friday before Easter is a bank holiday, it meant a precious 4 day weekend was on the cards – a perfect opportunity to discover more about what this country has to offer. On Friday night, with my board in tow, I took the train from Lausanne to Winterthur which is a 15 minute train ride from Zurich.
Winterthur is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, but to my non native ear, it reminded me more of Dutch than German, the difference really is striking and the result is that I couldn’t understand a thing. It was a good job that my school-boy Deutsch was still understandable. We did a little tour of the nearby rather impressive Rhine Falls and ate the mandatory wurst.
In this day and age, everyone knows the importance of buying locally as it supports the local scene. The guy we were staying with had recently bought a new board after not getting on one for over twenty years. He couldn’t have got one with less shipping, as Winterthur is home to Pumpkin Skateboards. It’s a classic shape with a mellow flex and some rather intriguing carbon-fibre look Viking baseplates. The board graphic might give you a clue about other things this guy is passionate about…
As we weren’t far away, we also went to visit Zurich and after a quick look around on the internet I found that there was even a longboarding shop…a rarity and too good an opportunity to not pop in for a visit: Roll Laden
Inside was veritable feast for the eyes. After a quick chat to the guys, they explained to me that focus of the shop is to offer local/regional boards and they had a whole rack of them on offer which were free to test. As a recent arrival to Switzerland it was a great way of discovering what is on offer…amongst the Indiana and Airflow boards (including the much oogled-over foamcore/Texalium C81) there were even some Kaliber decks which was good to see.
I spent a good while in the shop chilling with the guys that were working there and found out that the Zurich Greenskate was happening the very same day in a couple of hours, with Ross Barody the founder of the movement leading the event given that he lives nearby. I wasn’t ready for this – I had no board and was also wearing flip-flops! It was a shame but I didn’t want to abandon my non-longboarding friends with whom I had come to Zurich with.
I was going to meet up with my friends by the lake so I made my way down Bahnhofstrasse. As I walked I was passed by a couple of guys on longboards heading towards the lake. By a stroke of luck, it turned out that the start of the Greenskate was in fact where I was meeting my friends. I spent a little time chatting to some of the locals, with particular highlights being meeting Martin Siegrist and none other than the man himself, Ross Barody. As it turns out it seems like they had a blast, from what Ross said they were going to have a cruise around followed by a bbq. The weather certainly was awesome! Here is a recap of the Zurich event from the Greenskate site:
For Greenskate Zurich we did something out of the ordinary: Most people that attended expected us to go up and ride the local hill. Instead we followed a given route through the city and along the riverside, stopped at a shopping mall, and went to BBQ at the lake side. This is where people could see us with our longboards and green shirts, having fun on our “truely green means of transport”.
Being in the flat-ish area of Switzerland, people use their bikes a lot to get around Winterthur. To help everyone get about there is an extensive cycle path network around the area, and more excitingly a smaller network of roller-blading called Skatingland which offer 3 national routes as well as a load of smaller regional ones. One of the national routes called Mittelland Skate which spans 400 km between Romanshorn–Neuchâtel / Estavayer-le-Lac and passes right through Winterthur.
With a bit of time on my hands I headed out into the rolling countryside and went to Frauenfeld which is approximately 20km away. I didn’t end up taking any pictures myself because I got engrossed in the skating, these will give you a glimpse of what the route was like.
Compared to some of the skates I have done in the past in the countryside, I must say that the route was one of the best I ever did, the surface was excellent and the views were splendid.
What was reassuring was that it was my longest skate for quite some time and it felt good. After further investigation I’ve seen that there is a route not very far from Lausanne, the Rhône Skate which goes from Vevey to Sierre and spans over 100km.
A surprise package:
So last weekend ended very nicely as I received a lovely surprise package from Tim, a long time friend, distance trip partner and more recently creator of the very promising tickering factory that is PSD. After many prototypes, and a lot of hard work, the first footstop has seen the light of day: The FWD+
Just holding it in your hand you can immediately see the thought that has gone into this product. The plastic feels very solid and it is very grippy all over…apparently this is due to the fact that it is made with lasers or something!
After quickly installing it, on my G|Bomb Subsonic Illuminati, I took it out for a spin. During the ride it gave a really awesome locked in feeling and because of the adjustable bracket you can easily place it wherever you want it on your board. The FWD+ is now for sale here, in very limited quantities so hurry if you don’t want to miss out!
Tonight I went out for a quick ride to get some soup on my Insect Mosquito to make the most of the incredibly Summery weather we’ve been having. It was just a quick ride, and I’m still finding out some tasty longboarding routes but one of them is near to the Tribunal d’Arrondissement de Lausanne/Casino de Montbenon…the pavement is buttery and there is a nice incline but I keep going back for the view!
Some things that have caught my attention:
Back at Skaiti I had the chance to meet Edwin Drommel who has single-handedly created a storm in his home country: Holland. Check out his complete range of boards, including LDP boards at Baka Boards
I’ll definitely be out skating during the Greenskate, but I haven’t had the chance to put anything together for it around Lausanne or Geneva. That reminds me – I have recently found a small group called Geneva Longboarders, hopefully we’ll meet up at some point. However, in Paris they’re having a Greenskate Weekend. With a longboard parade down the Champs Elyses on the Saturday general cruise session, followed by a Push Race in central Paris and a slide jam, I’m sure it’ll be one to remember.
Paul’s to the wall
I love this video as it captures the highs and lows of longboard training. I hope to meet this guy someday! You can watch the video here.
Secret product alert
Well, it isn’t that secret seeing as it has been in the Concretewave’s buyers guide but Mischo Erban, world longboard speeed record holder was riding special Tekton Bearings from Seismic…I need more info on these babies if anyone has any!
That’s all for now folks…I’m hopefully soon going to discover the secrets of the Vallée de la Jeunesse! Here is what I’ve heard about it so far… “there’s an awesome downhill in Lausanne, the Vallee de la Jeunesse… it even has signs telling people to watch out for speeding skaters! There’s a pool next to the road too.” Can’t wait…