NOT ANOTHER SKATE TRIP
ARCHIPELAGO ༽ words by Nikolai Alin • photos by Justus Hirvi
Skateboarders have always been a group of modern-day explorers who are constantly going places where non-skaters rarely go. Skaters usually have that curious attitude towards the world and leading them to unbelievable situations. Finland has a few places you can describe as exotic skate destinations with hard to find spots. The Finnish archipelago is a combination of more than 20,000 islands and has probably nothing to do with skateboarding. We wanted to prove the opposite, packed our Pelago bicycles, boards and headed off to the well-known Archipelago Trail.
We were a solid group of six enthusiastic skateboarders and cyclists. We considered this a ”hybrid trip” with maximum 40 kilometres a day, so we still could enjoy both sides from pedalling to shredding the board. And if you’ve ever rode a bicycle long enough you realise that you have to keep the pedalling distance short enough to be able to skate afterwards.
The Archipelago Trail zigzags through the islands on the west coast and goes by only a few bigger towns. ”Bigger” like Nauvo with 1,500 and Korppoo with 900 residents, nowhere near the metropolitan area. The trail is beautiful and didn’t disappoint us. Well-kept bike lanes wind one’s way through the small villages, green sheep pastures and calm, scenic boat harbours filled with old wooden fishing boats and white sails. Constantly searching for spots, the ride was often stopped by someone yelling about some potential solid rock ending straight to the sea or some crusty and rusty handrail that had no flat at the top or at the bottom. We also had a skatemap, consisting of semi-good looking obstacles screen shotted from Instagram spiced up with rumours from a legendary Finnish skate-explorer Arsi Keva.
First spots that were somehow skateable were found in Parainen, a small town 25km outside Turku, the former capital of Finland. Old-fashioned plaza in the heart of the village pleased our thirsty crew with stairs, a flat gap, few wall rides and centuries old rocky wall for Wilson to noseblunt-bomb drop. Archipelago lives strongly from the tourist season between June and September so we were just in time to avoid that rush of people from the mainland. After a full day of skating and cycling it was a heavenly refreshing pleasure to have a hot sauna and a good swim in the Baltic Sea.
The Trail connects the islands via bridges but from Parainen to Nauvo we had to take the ferry. Since these islands are mostly forest and rocky coast, these ferry harbours are special when it comes to skating. There is always something to skate at the pier and Tommi made it look easy skating a waist high bar from the small bump like nothing. Another must mention spot was the ferry itself. Wilson had a blast and fearlessly frontside rocked the steep drawbrigde and saved his board from the hungry jaws of the deep blue sea.
Our last destination was the capital of autonomous Åland islands: Mariehamn. Åland belongs to Finland but has autonomy, a totally different culture and feeling in it. They don’t even speak Finnish over there! Mariehamn is a city, not a town or village anymore so we had high hopes skate wise. Good shit went down and we even had a small demo at a local plywood park with good vibes.
The trip was everything we had thought it would be and even more. Keep searching, keep skating and you will find skate spots everywhere. Oh, and try going hybrid, it’s hella fun.