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.
It’s been a little while since I’ve written here, but it’s not for lack of wanting. The weather here has truly been atrocious – wet and windy. I’ve still not managed to buy any new shoes either so anything other than dry is a little risky due to slippiness. I’ve also been waiting excitedly for an event which took place last weekend…
My birthday present from my wonderful girlfriend was an organised weekend to Cologne. I’m a big fan of Germany, the beer, sausages, the frauleins but Köln is also home to other exciting things…Christmas markets and Concretewave.de a shop/webshop run by a great guy called Heiko!
Heiko has been on the receiving end of many emails mostly about setting up my Kaliber (see ‘In the beginning‘ section) and also helping out decision making with regard to my newest board which is not yet built and which I’ll keep a secret for now…anyway, I was really looking forward to being able to thank him in person and visit his great shop. For most of us, the occasions when we get to see so much longboarding gear in one place is very rare… I was not to be disappointed. Every square inch of the shop was crammed with boards (many of which made by Kaliber, the local board brand – only available from this shop as far as I know), trucks, bearing, wheels as well as a host of skateboarding memorabilia and trophies from past events such as the last Paris Slalom world cup…