I woke up in the van as we parked at the food joint. The names of these towns were familiar, but in that moment, I couldn’t recall which town we were in. Everything seemed identical. “You passed out with music blasting full volume, Gaba”, Niklavs, the driver of our van, said to me. I am sitting up front next to him, Rudik and van’s audio speaker that was blasting Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes full volume. As I shook myself back to reality, I realized, “I am on a freaking skate tour”.
Words and Interviews by Edvard Gaba / Photos by Nauris Dollins
Life’s short, they say, but during a 6-day skate trip, it does feel like an eternity. We were supposed to have a day off—a break from skating to explore some sights. That’s what I was promised by the all-mighty organizers (hereinafter ‘ORGs’). But as tensions rose in the initial days, slowing down became unlikely. Our plans for a chill day (and my hopes to give my back a break) were shattered when a crew member suggested, “Let’s check this one spot.” In the blink of an eye, we found ourselves back on the treadmill, cameras rolling. “Will this ever end?” I pondered. Soon, but not today.
You don’t need to be a neurotic freak to get all jittery around day three of a skate trip. While you do get to know your peers a lot better, it comes at a high price—your nerves. Fortunately for me, interactions with the crew were limited to expressions like, “You got it!”, “Yeah, next try ma G!”, “Ma man!” I could also just quote our tour’s anthem by saying, “Mike Jooooooones!” that would cheer everyone up and effectively help me escape a real conversation. Others, however, had a lot more downtime chilling at spots and thus had to interact. The main ORG Mr. Nesaule, for example, was in constant contact with everyone all the time, and by this, I mean he had to answer endless questions. “Nesaule, where are we going/eating/sleeping?”, “Nesaule, did you put drinks in the cooler?”, “Nesaule, where’s the parking?”, “Nesaule, where’s the cooler?” I don’t know how he handled it, but he did it a lot better than I would.
So, you have three tours behind your back as an ORG. What’s the number one lesson you have learned in the process of organizing a skate trip?
Get your spots planned beforehand! And remember – tours are too short to waste time in shitty spots. Even worse – they could destroy the crew physically and mentally.
Where’s the best spot the crew stayed this year?
Hmmm, hard to pick one, because every year I try to find the best possible options for the budget we have. But I have to say that this year Lielbornes Manor stood out, because it was in a unique area called Daugavas Loki + final night + the cover of Bogas zine was shot there. In addition, the scenery at the guest house Sprīdīši in Tērvete was picturesque. Slept in a renovated tea house with a beautiful view overlooking the whole estate.
How do you manage tension in the crew?
Encourage the person to speak, hear them out, and finally talk it over. Whether one side or many – I generously want to have all sides involved to come down and remember that we are here to have fun and skate, so let’s rather do that and skip the rising tension. TALKING IS THE CURE, so act now!
What are your plans for the next summer trip?
We will go BIG in Vidzeme, the final year of the Latvian adventure series. It has to be the best tour we have ever organized with the experience of already 3 years of touring the other regions. I expect a surprising crew of riders (maybe some international guests or PRO’s), neatly planned spots, more supporters, lots of bangers and all in all just good times with the skateboard family.
Would you like to be just a member of the tour or you are an organizer for life?
Why not being both? Although, I would enjoy one tour as a member, at least could get more clips.
Roberts Potašs, for those who don’t know, is the enigmatic Trank Boy who usually materializes from thin air and launches into action immediately. It was my first time with him on a trip, and he skated every spot. Even the tricks that slipped away from him received a legendary status and became topics for late night talks at the fireplace. Potašs was dubbed with a charming nickname ‘Alien’ due to his paranormal skills on a skateboard, and also, his bald head. Well, because of the head.
Sometimes to speed up the trick-landing process I place a good bet that would get the skater hyped to commit on the next try. Basic bets include 2 euros or a beer, but I try to be more creative than that to really pump them up. So, I’d go for the absurd—75 beers instead. During the trip, I topped even that. I told Rudik that I will get a tattoo (my first one) saying “Sippin’ Drank” if he lands the line he was trying next try, and if not, he’d have to get it. Well, turns out getting inked does feel nice.
I got my revenge on Rudik at the next spot. “If you don’t land this next try, you are allowed to only say ‘Mike Jones’ and nothing else for the next two and a half hours.” We shook hands, and … he bailed. I couldn’t tell if he was upset or not cause all I heard from him was a loud “Mike Joooones!!!” I was satisfied.
How was it saying only “Mike Jones” for two and half hours?
It was funny, I had to motivate Potašs to do the boardslide down that wooden rail while being able to only say Mike Jones in different intonations.
Did you feel any tension on the trip?
Haa, not really I was having a blast the whole trip. But maybe the very last day a bit, but it was mellow.
What do you think about the kink rail? Do you count it?
Ahh it’s kinda 50/50, I probably should have done it better. But at the moment I was kinda in shock that I made it to the end, and I didn’t realize how sketchy it was until you showed me the clip months later. I think I was kinda falling of the board before the curb even. Sucks, but I want to go back though.
I heard you didn’t like the song in your part of the vid? Any comments why?
Yeah, I wasn’t to hyped about it. Also the part was after the credits and I think it would be cool to have a faster maybe punk song, but it’s just me hah
You were also filming some clips. How was that?
Super fun. I didn’t know what I was really doing just kinda freestyling with the camera hah but I’m hyped how I filmed Niklāvs 50 in Uzvara.
Which supporter of the tour is your favorite?
We have a tradition with Boga to drive one part of the road together in his car. While everyone’s in vans, Boga drives his trusty Mini Cooper on the tour. I join him, and we ‘discuss’ some serious matters. During that drive, I realized that Boga drives similarly to the way he skates—and I’m not talking about pushing speed limits. He’s always skating super hard, and if not, he’s running around shooting photos for his tour’s zine. The similarity extends to our drive; he’s not just navigating the road, he’s also flawlessly singing a Rick Ross album from start to finish.
Arturs “Boga” Bogdanovičs
Do you still like Mike Jones – Flossin? If it is on, do you get hyped?
Yes, yes, we’re homies. There wasn’t anything against him, it was just too much of the same song at one point. And I actually “My 64” is my go to song from his repertoire.
Your boardslide to switch manny was the last trick we filmed on the trip. How was that session like?
It was a great session and a nice battle. I’m not really a handrail person, but that one was of a good size for a combo. It was the very last spot, most of the people were already in the van and at one point I was the last one to battle and it felt like I’m holding everyone from going home, so that pressure didn’t help. It worked out and I was very pleased to hear you saying “they don’t even know that it’s a banger type of stuff”. It was your idea to call the trip Tension in Zemgale.
Can you give some insights into the Tension aspect of trip?
We were so desperate to have a title before the trip, haha. None of our ideas felt like a true one, so it only made sense to figure it out after the trip is done. I felt like this one had much more emotionally difficult to everyone than usual. But Sunday’s lunchtime when pretty much everyone got to their “pissed off” limits kind of settled the title in my head, haha.
You made a third zine from the trip. How this zine different.
The main difference is that it’s sold out. I returned to a similar layout style that I used for Latgalian Cruise, but the storytelling is like in Kuramo Voyage. So it’s sort of a mixture of first two with some new crispy additions. You have been all over the world.
Does a trip around Latvia excite you?
For sure! After three years I’m ready to sacrifice a contest trip abroad for this one. Even if the upcoming one wouldn’t be our last one of these series. Can’t wait to mark the dates in my calendar!
Time flies so fast. It feels like we just had our first tour, and now in 2024, we’re already planning the fourth one in Vidzeme, the last Latvian region we haven’t explored yet. In the end, no matter how much tension there was, it all stayed in Zemgale. What we have are pictures, videos, and good memories from times spent together in the streets of our beautiful country.
Big love and shout out to our friends and supporters without whom this wouldn’t have been as cool as it was: