rhine runoff opener

by: Nico von Lerchenfeld     Photos: Leo Drees

It was three years ago when I first had the opportunity to ride some flooded spots in my home city, Cologne. I knew from back then to be alert as soon as the water gets up to a certain level which happened this last February. February in Germany is pretty cold but being stuck at home due to the pandemic I was so keen to ride that we went for it anyways. 

rhine runoff park bench

“It was so cold my binding laces froze from the walks to the starting point.”

When winching, most of the times you have to deal with spots that aren’t perfect in many ways. Super rough concrete ledges, short in-run or shallow landing or sketchy close-outs. So, it was especially pleasing to hit not only one but two skateboard parks that were flooded. I found this perfect rail, too, with the winch pull coming from a high bridge.

The only limiting factor this time was the temperature. It was so cold my binding laces froze from the walks to the starting point and having had to walk back through knee-deep water for every go my feet felt terrible. It was a trade-off between how much pain I was willing to take versus the stoke I had to just keep on riding. 

I am really thankful to Nane, my then-fiancée and filmer, Leo and the rest of the crew for bearing the cold and helping me do this. Cable or boat sessions can become pretty replaceable. Every single one of these spots, however, almost every single one of my hits during these few days of the high water I will always remember. And after all, chasing a feeling like that is why we wakeboard, isn’t it?