Having came home from the the Velefique Freeride, I can say that this is one of those can’t miss life experiences in the world of downhill skateboarding. First, let’s get comfortable. Here are the stats and a little bit of roadporn to get you in the mood:
Going Beyond Roadporn
Before I left Canada I was told that it was the Maryhill of Spain. Living just a short road trip away from Maryhill, I felt more than capable and prepared with years of Maryhill Freeride experience under my belt. But I buckled down and did my research.
I had seen google maps. Scouted every aspect of the world I could do virtually. I’ve seen videos from the previous years. I made sure I was as prepared as the cyber world could get me. But alas,like Maryhill, they don’t really prepare you for what you’re about to experience.
Velefique is it’s own road.
Velefique is it’s own event.
Both are special and amazing and I hope I can fill in the spatial blanks that the cyber world has left regarding this event. Between the Velefique event, and the Maryhill Freerides, both have their similarities and difference that make them both world class events.
Nothing to worry about. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, not too fast, not too slow, just right.. Like Maryhill, if the wind blows in your favor, and you find yourself in a pack run, things can get heated fairly quick! Blowing by a slower group, things can get hairier than a bear in the winter time! About 65 km/h for most of the course. An approximate 40mp/h for those outside of Europe. But we’re gonna go with metrics like the locals do!
The corners aren’t banked like Maryhill. The natural curves of Mary has, she sweetly caresses you into every corner. Luring you in with her lustful turns.
At Velefique, you have to slide and drift. Things get much more abrasive at Velefique, rubbing wheels to road. This makes Velefique a beast of it’s own nature.
At Velefique, you can use the whole road. The freedom as a skater knowing you don’t need to stick to your own lane. A breath of fresh air in the skateboarding world. You don’t have to tuck the whole way. Giving your legs a chance to prepare for each corner, and not burning yourself out by the end.
Suitable for everyone, and everyone is welcome. A vibe that’s much more welcoming in the world of freerides. The true heart and joy of downhill skateboarding.
This is where things are the most similar between Velefique and the Maryhill Freerides. If you’ve been to a Maryhill freeride, there are no vendors, just love. You need water? They got it for you. High fives. There are plenty. And the welcoming faces of friends and family all unified by downhill skateboarding. Nothing quite like it in the world.
Whether it was a special occasion, or the experience would be the same for everyone else, but I got to talk with nearly everyone at Velefique. Drift trike guys let me ride their rigs. People wanted to talk, everyone was welcoming and there was lots of love. It seemed we were all tied together through the love of downhill riding. Whether it be skaters, drift trikes, roller bladers, etc… Gravity kept us unified as one.
Downhill Longboarding for Everyone (Even if you’re not longboarding)
With riders from all around the world, it’s one of a few times people get to see eachother for months at a time. So pack riding happens, and they happen quick. Packs weren’t as intense as Maryhill, where people are rolling upwards of 40 riders in a pack, the Velefique’s slide and drift mentality spaced things out, while keeping the intensity both events can bring. It’s curves and shake and bake make it totally unique. Organizers are easy going, spacing out riders for safety, while letting you make big packs of all of your friends. They even let quad, roller bladers, lugers and skaters skate together! Unified by gravity! In europe, all these guys shred together and to drift corners with 4 other riding styles is heavy in a totally different way. When compared to Maryhill, where “the line” is key there is less entanglement of gravity vehicles, as compared to Velefique.
On the hill, Maryhill is unmatched in it’s organization. The shuttles are constantly moving. It’s a high bar to be compared to.
But when it comes to the rest of the world of events, Velefique held it’s own. It’s simply hard to compare to the simple and effective system Maryhill has set up. Maryhill is non-stop. Up the hill, off the truck and organizers are telling you to go down the hill already!!!! Velefique has it’s own unique style, but there were more runs than the legs could handle! A full weekend’s worth of riding to sooth the soul.
Off the hill, Velefique rules. Everyone is in one place, where mingling and conversation is abundant. The pool is better for cooling off post riding. And the food is great, and it’s CHEAP!
Velefique isn’t rushed and that’s a pleasing quality regarding the event. 8-10 runs per day and in the past people have said they had up to 16 per day, plenty of riding, but plenty of time to relax.
Velefique is on it’s own schedule. Riding starts at 10 after everyone's had breakfast. They could do this faster, but then it wouldn’t really be Spain. A very European approach to events brought in by their lifestyle. Riding stops at 2pm for 2 hours so you can go get a delicious free lunch and take a dip in the pool or just relax under palm trees in the shade. Lunch came with a free beer. After lunch you ride for another 4 hours until 8pm! If skateboarding was a 9-5 job, this is how I would want to do it. And it was all included with epic views.
Between the two events, shuttling was a dream at Velefique. Velefique had air conditioned busses that is a luxury compared to the rest of the downhill skateboarding world. No cramming in a uHaul. No awkward rides up with a drift trike in your way. And a seat of your own.
But the one downside, Velefique didn’t have bathrooms. I’ll spare you the details.
When it comes to Maryhill, your options are Goldendale or the Dalles. Some camp, some hit the hotel, riders are on their own agenda, so they can be all over the place. Finish riding for the day and you might not get a chance to recap runs with strangers. So talk it out, find out who is going where, and maybe tag along with a few of the close friends you’ve made that weekend.
The difference? Velefique is a small town that is absolutely worth exploring. By virtue of being stranded in a 500 year old town, you’re guaranteed to meet people. Whether it be at the only store in town, or at the pool where there is a bar and food, you’re guaranteed to make friends. And it’s all so cheap! It definitely fits into a skater’s budget. 1Euro will get you 1.5 Litres of beer, so sharing is rampant. A huge part of what I believe to make the community aspect of Velefique so strong. Only downside here is that only 5% of the locals speak conversational english, so be prepared or get friendly with the other travellers. But don’t worry, beer and laughter is a universal language.
In comparison, hotels in Goldendale are cheap, but for the same price you’ll get a palace in Velefique. Who doesn’t want to live like a king for a few days?
Maryhill: There’s really only two options. Campsite vibes or hotel vibes. Both of which are fun in their own regards, but it does scatter all of the attendees a bit. It’ll become more cliquey, and by day two, you can tell who had a hotel shower, and who slept in hammocks. But you can tell the campsite guys had their fair share of fun, and lack of sleep.
Velefique: Every night was spent at the pool. Drinking cheap beer, and connecting with skaters from all around. This meant a more unified and communal situation to meet with people who are attending for the same love of downhill skateboarding. There’s really no better definition of community than the way Velefique is ran.
Remote Location: Like Maryhill, everyone travelled at least 1 hour to get to Velefique. But it's not uncommon to travel 5-8 hours (the average drive time from Canada to Maryhill). So there’s a sense of seclusion from the rest of the world. A sense of freedom from the responsibility of the daily life. Whether it be work or home, it didn’t matter because everyone was in the event mindset at Velefique.
Go for the trip, go for the vibe, go to skate with a new crew. You won’t be disappointed. Both roads are a rite of passage and foremost an annual pilgrimage. Whether it be Maryhill or Velefique, both are an experience in their own regards. A chance to expand your skills, intimidation free. Having a safe place to really hone in on your skills is one of the safest and best ways to advance as a skater. And when it comes to a chance for adventure, and to see a new skateboard family, these are the kinds of events that make life worth living.