Adventures in a Yellow Van: Wie Gehts with Alex Dehmel

Alex Dehmel is one of the OGs (Original Germans) of team Skoa; alongside Matze Ebel, Stephan Risch and Leon Ritter as the first people to be on Team Skoa. Over this season, he’s been all over. Alex really focussed on his European game, skating regularly with Pablo Quiles and the dudes from Salsito House in Spain. I’ll be linking some videos in later in the interview, but let’s jump right in with Alex!

 

Tommy Watson: Hey Alex! Seems like I’ve been seeing a lot from you this season. Can you take me through the places you’ve been and maybe give a shout out to the best locations people should add to their must-skate lists?

Alex Dehmel: Guten Tag Tommy! I actually travelled a whole lot this year. In the beginning of the year, when it was still rainy, cold and grey in Germany I travelled to Spain three times. I went to the Canary Islands in January (was also there in December, loved it!!) with a big German shop for a photo shoot. We travel there a lot in winter because flights are cheap and the Spanish locals are very hospitable and happy for visitors to show them around. Another important date early in the year is ISPO in Munich. It’s a big get-together of the industry full of partying, skating and of course a bit of business. In March we had another sick trip to Alicante with the Risch-Crew to visit my good buddy Pablo Quiles at Salsito House.

Alex and Pablo

Alex and Pablo look out over a valley in Spain – photo: Risch Aerohelmets

In Spring I went to a lot of smaller races like the German DLL series, the Belgian Championships, a sick boardercross in Barcelona and a surf trip in southern Spain with my bro. When the summer came, I got in our beloved yellow Opel Astra and started my three-months-eurotour. Talking about all the Spots I went to would be way too much for this interview, but I am publishing all the stories on my brother’s skate-blog SkateOn.de. Between Kozakov in eastern Czech Republic and Porto on Iberia‘s west coast, I did 15k-20k kilometers, skated, visited old friends, met new people, camped, partied and finally ended up in southern Spain with my mates at Salsito to stay there for a couple weeks… It was one of the most fun trips I have ever done so far and I can not express how thankful I am to all my supporters who made this possible!

In the end it is really hard to tell which place was the best, but I think pretty high on top of my must-skate list are the French Alps. I am sure it is hard to find a place with better conditions for our sport somewhere else (as long as it is summer, of course).

TW: That’s a ton!! I don’t know where to start. I guess at the beginning of the year when you went to Spain. We’ve all seen how epic the Canary Islands can be through Patrick’s Greener Pastures, and even some older videos from Kevin and James when they were on OTang. Was this your first time there? Is there anything special about the architecture of the roads, like pavement or certain types of corners? They look unreal.

AD: My trip to Tenerife last December was actually my first time on the Canary Islands and I was really stoked to be able to visit another island there only such a short time later. On Tenerife for example you can find Spain’s highest mountain, El Teide (~4000m). Both Tenerife and Gran Canaria are basically just massive volcanos sticking out of the ocean, which makes it almost impossible to find a flat spot anywhere.

Like many other nice places in Spain, it is crowded with tourists from central Europe most of the year. All these tourists also want to be taken to the hills and the nature in a comfortable way. That means that a lot of money was spent to build nice and wide roads for the buses into almost every fucking valley. Yeah! So that makes it pretty easy to find good spots for our sport there. I really love the fact that you can see the ocean from almost every run, sometimes it feels like dropping into the water. It is definitely a great experience!

Another interesting thing is the pavement there. Its kind of grippy but still slides super predictably and just eats wheels like hell. Take a look at the videos you just mentioned. Almost all the slides leave big, chalky marks. The reason for that is that the gravel they use to make the roads consists of mostly volcanic rocks (makes sense, huh?) which are pretty coarsely porous and sharp-edged. So they wear down faster than other roads but when they do the grains are always fresh and sharp, compared to other roads (for example at some places in the alps) where the grains are more solid but get rounded when they wear down, causing them to be more slippery.

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Alex having fun at a jam in Spain – photo: Ride&Travel

TW: What shop was it that you were traveling with and where are these pictures?! I haven’t seen them yet…

AD: It was a trip organized by Titus. They have been around skateboarding in Germany since it started and are now also getting into longboarding. The main outcome was a free longboard-basics guide for beginners, which they gave away. You can find most parts of the content here.

TW: I hear great things about ISPO. Any shenanigans go down outside of all the business matters you were dealing with?

AD: Dude if you have not been there yet, you have to come to see how it is like. It kind of feels like a skate event without actually skating a lot. You see many faces from the scene and the industry and everyone is having a good time. Volcom usually puts up a big miniramp. Last year 40inch magazine put up a skateboard-pumptrack and there is free beer at every second booth during the whole day. You can have a really good time there and still do the obligatory business stuff, but beware of the secret police that are all over the place trying to catch people that smoke weed or do something else they don’t like in Bavaria. For those who don’t know: Bavaria is the strictest part of Germany, something like Texas in the US…

richard gibello kozakov

Alex wins another kind of race against James, John and Tyler – photo: Brie Schelling

TW: Haha, anywhere outside of Travis county is pretty bad in Texas! Stephan Risch also holds the round table every year, right? How was that? What is it for those who don’t know?

AD: After a day full of business talks, free beers, police chases and miniramp sessions, Stephan’s round table is the place where the longboarding/downhill scene meets to have some more drinks and food, either to end the day in a relaxed environment or just to gather and get ready to go partying to the center. It usually takes place in a lovely bar close to Stephan’s house in a beautiful neighbourhood close to the river Isar.

I really recommend visiting ISPO to anyone involved in the longboarding industry but if you decide to come, try to find a place to stay early (hotels are usually quite busy during big trade shows) and be aware of always driving sober etc because if you look like a skater you will most likely be talked to by the police at some point. Nevertheless Munich is a very lovely city where you can find really good food, beer and a lot of nice people. Like Mr. Risch, who makes a really good host every year!

Risch AeroHelmets “Mallorca” from Salsito House™ on Vimeo.

TW: Stephan sent me some pictures from Alicante, and that video from you and Pablo is awesome. Seems like the Spanish really like their narrow winding roads. How did you guys even come across that one?

AD: This certain road is located in the valley at the backside of one of my favourite downhill spots in Alicante. One day we wanted to skate there but it was very busy and wet in many critical corners. No problem if you are cruising with Pablo, because he knows basically every spot in the whole province. We just went to the next spot, which unfortunately was wet as well what finally brought us to the road you know from the video. Of course the locals have known of it for a long time.

It is a dead end road with no houses, the result of the Spanish construction industry-crisis (which I talked about it in this travel report on SkateON). It is quite short but it has the best shape for freeriding I have ever seen. It offers a very comfortable steepness and perfectly banked hairpins that just suck you in to the apex. The second part is super steep and has some very challenging but super fun sweepers, just watch Pablo and me doing a couple big pendies all the way down, still going kind of fast.

The spanish mountains are full of freeride-treasures like that and I don’t know if anyone can ever get to skate them all. Even some people like Pablo and Axel who are trying really hard 😉

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Alex gripping through one of the many corners Spain has to offer. Classic Spanish guardrails in the background… – photo: Salsito House

TW: Axel and Pablo are both involved with Salsito House, right? Can you tell people a bit about what is Salsito House and who are the dudes behind it?

AD: The Salsito House is located in Calpe, at the coast of the province Alicante. It is owned by David Buti who lives there with his mate Pablo. It is a typical skate house and one of the major hubs for the Spanish scene. You can meet all the big spanish rippers like Toti, Axel or Oriol (and many more!) and it is also frequented by international guests a lot. From the house it is 10 minutes skating to the beach and 40 minutes driving to the good spots in the mountains.

Besides offering shelter to their skater friends, the guys are actually working a lot for the scene. Pablo is setting up a longboard school, trying to spread the stoke to beginners and giving abandoned urbanizations a new purpose, they regularly organize small events like slide jams etc. They report everything in their blog, salsitohouse.com, so check it out!

Now they have even released fresh Salsito-branded slide gloves together with Agro’s new Label GOM. I really really like the people and the place and try visit the guys as often as possible. I am totally stoked that my sponsors, especially Risch made it possible to stay there for a while after the Eurotour and I hope to be back to celebrate New Years Eve with the crew!

TW: Would you say there’s anything unique about the style of skating coming from Spain? Any defining characteristics where you can see someone skate and say “yeah, that guys from Spain”?

AD: Especially compared to Germany, there is definately a certain style the Spanish have. When I got into the sport, I mainly got socialized by guys like Basti Hertler or Boris Schinke, going in leathers and race mode all the time. The spanish way of skating is way more relaxed. Most of the people focus on acquiring a perfect freeride style instead of practicing their tuck and race lines. It is actually a really good metaphor for the different lifestyles of Spanish and Germans. I did not even know about the difference of “downhill” and “freeride” before I started skating with the Spanish; I always just called skating freeriding when it wasn’t a race heat…

Alex kozakov pablo

Alex and Pablo at the Kozakov Challenge – photo: Brie Schelling

There is a lot that both sides can learn from each other, just take a look at Pablo Quiles. When I first met him, he already had released a sick Perropro freeride video which was spreading all over the world, but it seemed like no one ever told him about the downhill thing. Through his intense motivation of growing his skills and learning from others (including some of the Germans), he’s now turned into one of Europe’s top longboarders, throwing big standies at 80kph like a boss while also being a serious contender in world level downhill racing.

In general I would say the pure Spanish way of longboarding is very stylish and more freeride-orientated, skaters like Axel, Toti and Bruno are perfect examples of showing off the spanish lifestyle on their boards.

For me, there is a lot to learn about skating and lifestyle (and of course the language) and I can only recommend it to others. But, as everyone hopefully already knows: Don’t just go there and try to find/skate hills on your own in an area which is known to have a longboarding scene. Contact the locals in advance of your trip and hook up with them. If you are nice and respect their spots they will be very hospitable and you will surely have a good time!

TW: Thanks for the stories and travel advice Alex. I can’t wait to hear more and see more of your adventures in the future 🙂

Nerds by Dehmel&Toti from Pablo Quiles on Vimeo.