If you skate for any period of time with derby, you find that you are overwhelmed with the choices in wheels. What’s best for my floor, expertise level, weight, height, style of skating… and so on. I’m here to tell you up front, there is not a clean cut easy answer to that. I’ve driven myself mad scouring skatelog, interrogating derby peers, and reading manufacturer’s descriptions online. I just don’t get why someone can’t just come out with an unofficial cheat sheet. Please?!
What I know: wheels made for derby come in different grades of hardness (durometer), slim or regular, aluminum or plastic hubs, and of course, many color options. When deciding what wheels worked best for me, I considered how stable I was on my skates first (width). Then I thought about my speed, or lack there of (hardness). Then I thought about my budget.
My first wheels were cheapish, sticky (soft – 88a), and wide. Mostly because
I was not steady, fast, nor did I want to spend much considering it was all new to me and not sure if I was going to stick with it. I went with Radar Flat-Outs. Now that I’ve been around a while, I see that it’s a pretty popular starter wheel. Wheels are sold in packs of 8, without the bearings. My second set of wheels were purchased when I discovered why I was sliding off the track on the turns. The grip (ridges) on my Flat outs were gone. It was probably 6ish months after purchase. I clean my wheels pretty regularly with alcohol and a wipey. I also rotate them every couple of months (like you would on your car). When the ridges are gone, they’re gone. No bueno.
So, I started researching, asking around, consulting the almighty interweb. I was super confused, and ended up just picking something that ‘seemed’ like it was a good fit for me. I my second pair of wheels were Atom G-Rods. I picked these because they were a harder wheel (slicker – 92A I think). They were also from the manufacturer Atom. I’d heard they had a bit higher quality polyurethane (plastic) and also had great customer service. I don’t know either of these things for sure, or first hand, just part of my research results. (how much can we trust online info anyway!?) I don’t, however, have anything to say on the contrary. They’ve held up fabulously. I felt super fast, in control and ready to conquer the derby world. Haha… ok, maybe we should not go that far. I do know that I was more confident with them once I got used to the speed difference. I must state, I skated on painted (dusty) cement most of the time. These may be a bit too sticky for nice wood. These also held up far longer than the flat outs. They lasted me about a year of skating approximately 9-12 hours a week.
When it was time to buy new ones (just a month ago) I wanted to try something new. I wanted to keep it under $100. I wanted fast, with some (minimal) grip. I wanted a slimmer width. I went to the local skate shop and looked at a few. I really wanted to go with some fancy aluminum hub black ones (cant remember what they’re called) but I had a budget (gotta stay under the hubby radar). So, I went with Poisons. I regret it. I hate them. I
noticed most of my league (probably half) skates on the Poisons or Wicked. I thought that it was a safe bet. I was wrong. I feel like I’m skating through mud. Ick. I also (don’t do this, ever, ever, ever!!) bought them a week before a bout. I spent most of warm up time before practice every time dragging my skates trying to wear them down, get them dirty, burn them… I think it’s a great wheel, for anyone but me. Not sure what the durometer rating is on it, I thought it was 92A, but alas, it cannot be true.
I know this is a little ADD, but a good thing about clear/white wheels is that you can die them. I saw a neat how-to vid on YouTube of someone dying their wheels with rit dye in their kitchen sink. I’ve yet to try it, though; I’d go with deep purple or something like that. I bet if many chicks did that, it’d dye your track. SO, hush. Keep your dying to yourself so you can keep it legal. J
Back to wheel choice. I am probably going to get new wheels (again) next month. I’m going to go with harder (higher durometer rating). I’d like to try the aluminum hubs; however, I may stay away a little longer, just because it’s a little more difficult to change out/ clean bearings on those. (With time, speed, and general derby awesomeness, aka falling, the bearings heat up and expand. This causes them to fill the space in the hub and get stuck or sometimes even mildly fused to the aluminum hub.) I’ve wrestled with the decision a bit. Thought maybe if I got cheap bearings, it wouldn’t matter. But then I think, no having nice wheels and get cheap bearings stuck in there would suck. Then I think of getting top of the line bearings and top of the line wheels would be a good thing to be ‘stuck’ with. But what if I wanted to change/clean my bearings?Arg.Ok, just too much thinking. I just want to skate.
In summation, I don’t really have anything valuable to share. Just my experience, for whatever it’s worth. I’d have to say there is no (current) good way to know just what wheels are going to work for you now. Testing wheels from friends is a decent way to try to bridge the gap, but you have to keep in mind their bearings, and age of the wheels (have they been broken in). WHY ISNT THERE A CHEET SHEAT?!?!
A post taken from Denny’s blog…
“An open letter to Adrian Taylor, Roller Derby hater
NOTE: This post has nothing to do with cooking. I apologize, but I have very few outlets for my frustrations regarding dumb people. I hope you all can forgive me for this one day.
Hello Adrian,I was recently referred to your article by a friend on Facebook. Gotta love social networks, eh? (Note: I have linked to the actual article at the bottom of this post, if you decide he deserves a click)It was quite the interesting read, to say the least. In case you forgot, I just wanted to remind you that you suggested that roller derby wasn’t really a sport. Quoted:“As far as I can tell it involves a number of well-built young women in various stages of undress, roller skating with malicious intent. I have no doubt that there is an element of sweaty physicality involved and there might be some tactics employed. But, basically, it looks like an excuse for violence and brutality with a dubious element of perversion thrown in for salacious pleasure.”I have to say that I completely disagree with your position, because I don’t really think you even had a position. I honestly can’t tell if your article was meant to be satiric, because the only argument you seemed to make against Roller Derby as a sport (written further down in the article) was its rampant use of fishnet stockings.Man, this would%2 ”
So a couple weeks ago I played my first bout with the new league. I’m on the (bteam) team. I was really excited, like I always am before a bout, but also feeling quite uneasy about what the experience might be like with a new team. I don’t get nervous before bouts anymore, I’m a pro like that, but I had apprehensions about what to expect. In my previous league, we had a plan, we had direction. It was CLEAR. Not so much with the new team. Why? Not sure. I can’t really understand why they do some of the things they do. I’ve not really asked the right people perhaps. So, here’s where my confusion is coming from.
Old league bout prep looked like this:
Upcoming bout is announced. We do some reconnaissance, asking other leagues what they know, search YouTube, draw from previous experience playing that team. We assess what our short comings are and what our strengths are. Then we work on a custom plan or just use the strategy that we know works for us. We work together. We work hard. We don’t give each other a break, we go all out at practice. We scrimmage every practice (for 30-60 min). We keep track of major penalties, we use a penalty box, we use refs. We go into the facility on the day of the bout and we huddle. We talk about what the plan is. We get pumped up. We kill it on the track. We put in the best players, utilizing everyone on the bench but some a lot more than others. We get it. We want to win. If you suck, you don’t have the same playing privileges as someone else. Guess what?! Makes you want to kill it at practice to prove you can be more of an asset to your team. Makes you want to work harder. Makes you want to be one of the key peeps. Anything wrong with that? Nope.
New League bout prep looked like this:
Upcoming bout is announced. We all say yay. We talk about how fun it’s going to be. We talk about who made the roster. We talk about what color jersey we’re wearing. We talk about skating surface. We continue practice like normal. We don’t have a strategy, plan, or know anything about the other team. (Keep in mind this is from the perspective of sock monkey who has only skated with this team for a month and a half.) We don’t work on special skills that involve other team’s or what they might do. We just do our thing…. Skrills, weaving drills, endurance, and other things that have positive but minimal impact on how this bout will go down. We take it easy on each other. Only use a percentage of your hitting strength. Concentrate on chest blocks instead of the ever so popular shoulder checks. Use practice time to execute drills that involve lots of perfectly planned and controlled skills. Show up to the game facility and have a team stretch. Warm up time is spent doing silly weaving drills. No pep talk. No game plan. No togetherness.
Don’t get me wrong…. No one is perfect. You cannot have it all. But this is derby, people!!! Get with it! It’s a team sport. We will only work well together if we feel together.
We lost. Bad. Like World Cup epic bad. It sucked. I got mad. I laid out a couple jammers. I was growling. I was NOT happy. I was embarrassed. I was truly embarrassed. Was I the best player on the team? No. Was I super almighty derby chick? Nope. Did I do my best the whole game? Probably not. It just wasn’t jelling for me. I wasn’t feeling it.
I was reflecting on this game, why I didn’t feel it. Why it sucked. Why I have not been back to practice since then…. Those are loaded questions. In my state of reflectiveness or whatever, I did think about other times I played bouts when I was new to the team. I then compared them to this experience. My first bout ever, was an invitational mash up bout. I had just passed or was about to pass skills when I signed up. I remember having a bit of communication with the league president, Red. She was encouraging and made me feel like part of the group even before I ever met her. I drove the 2 hours up to that town with my family. We ate at the big Texan and drove down Route 66. Super psyched, I showed up to the fairgrounds ready to get my first bout ever under my belt. I was greeted by friendly volunteers that checked my name off, told me where our ‘locker room’ was and informed me that I would hear later if I was a white or black. I brought both colors just in case. At this time I’d been skating for about 3 months. I was super duper newb. I was also still super duper shy monkey. It took a bit, but I eventually talked to some other girls, asked them where they were from and how long they had been skating. (not really conversation, just wondering how badly I was going to be beat up…hehe.) I met chicks from East Texas, West Texas, and New Mexico. Once I was placed on a team, we talked about what we knew about the opposing team, what our strategy was, what positions we played best, and if we jammed. It was fantastic. I LOVED my first bout. I was on the winning team (YAY!) and learned soooo much. At one point, I was so oblivious, the jammer was on my right and I was looking left, that Red picked me up and threw me at the opposing jammer. It was epic. I fell. I got sent to the box. It was derby. At any rate, I had a great time, didn’t know these girls before I showed up, by the end I knew what each one was good at where they played best, and how I could play with them to make a good team. Some I’ve met and played with again on occasion, but most I haven’t. BUT if I did, I’d remember them. My LONG winded point here is that I didn’t feel that. I’ve played in many many many mash up bouts with all sorts of skaters from all over the globe and I have never felt so out of my element, disconnected. Weird.
How do we fix it?
I don’t really know. Leadership? Team building activities? More scrimmaging? I don’t really know. I do know that something has to give. I don’t want the next bout I play in to be another episode from the twilight zone. My first plan, is to have a sit down with the training committee and see if I can get some feedback. See if I’m the only one (I’m the problem) or if this is an actual problem that needs addressing. I’m happy to help make things better, always.
Since Sock Monkey has not been sighted on her blog for almost a year, she was presumed to have been a mythical creature. A fairy tale. A figment of the webs imagination… you get the idea.
I’m here to disprove these heinous myths. Sock Monkey is here. She’s back. She’s real. It’s ME!! I’m back.
So, apologies are now in order. I’m sorry. -that was easier than I thought it would be.- I’m sorry. I’ve had something called life happen to me. I have no real excuses, and mostly just felt like blogging was a happy thing, but wasn’t feeling über happy, so I didn’t blog. I know, I know, blogs dont care if you are happy or not, but I tend to internalize most unhappy things, so bloggy gets shafted.
Now that that’s out of the way… Here’s a quick rundown of the last 9 months!! Ready. Set. GOO!!!!!
Last blog was about my birthday- great gear bag present. I still have the Zuca bag. Still LOVE it! It holds everything derby related, performs well, and is just lovely. I have found a new found love for the light up wheels. Practice has been mostly at night time and it helps light up my life (yes I went there). I’ve not had to repair, wash, adjust anything on said bag. It’s just perfect.
February, I attended a boot camp in the Corpus Christi area of Texas. It was put on by Blood and Thunder Magazine. It was 4 days of epic derby-ness. I have a notebook full of notes from classes I took in this intensive 9a-9p no holding back booty kicking. Some of the teachers were Ziv Kruger (coach/photographer), LuLuDemon, Smarty Pants, Bonnie D.Stroier, and soooo many more super heroes of derby. After I got over my star struck brain, I absorbed as much information as I could. I attended classes from footwork, strategy, coaching, league management, sports visualization, drills, and many many scenario style scrills. They held try outs for Team USA. I did not try out. I suck way too bad to even be the water girl on Team USA…hehe. I did have the opportunity to meet derby peeps from all over the country and world!! It was super neat making friends and skating with girls from so many different styles of game play. We were placed on teams and we had a full on bout on one of the days. It was super fun! I was on team Blood. We lost. But it was amazing skating with some world class girls and bonnie was my coach. ❤
March was a weird month. I was very frustrated with derby. I came back pumped from BC and had so much to share. I guess, it equates with going on vacation and coming back to normal life and no one really shares your enthusiasm for life. There was a bit of league drama happening which made me even less happy with derby. I kept at it, but only because I was determined not to quit because of a rough patch.
April happened. Early April, my husband was laid off of his job. A job that we had relocated our lives for only a year and a half prior. The town we were living in, had no job prospects in his field of work so we were posed with the challenge of finding a new job, a new city, a new life. I LOVE change. I love moving and experiencing new things, people. I love to learn about new cities/states/regions. I really find the challenge quite interesting. It’s exhausting though. Especially when you didn’t decide on the timing of it. At any rate, it was inevitable at this point. I KNEW we had to relocate and leave our friends, derby, life and exchange it for another. This caused a little bit of stress, so I went into an active retired status with my league.
Early May my hubby found a job in Charlotte, NC. (3day drive from our TX town) Went back to derby for a month.Then we packed up, said our goodbyes. By the end of May we were driving up to our new rental home (found on craigslist). It was like a surprise walking in for the first time… sooo- pretty much moved in and found that our little house is perfect. Our new town was perfect. Derby- As soon as I had a hunch that I was moving to Charlotte, I looked up derby leagues in the area. The Charlotte Roller Girls were an active league right there in CHARLOTTE!! YAY! I was super excited to join, as soon as I arrived. Reality kinda hit me a bit hard though. I had to settle in. I had to unpack. I had to make sure my kids were ok. I had to learn how to drive to the grocery store. Find a church. Enroll the kids in school. Find doctors. And so on. Bleh…
June and July went by quickly with a few road trips. Early June to Florida for my baby sister’s graduation then to Chattanooga for an engagement party, July to Florida for my brother’s wedding (epic) and then to Maryland for a summer MX race and quick trip to DC (smithsonian). Stuck a couple camping trips in there too and before I knew it, it was mid August.
August went by in a blurrrrr…. getting kids ready for school (shopping, doc apts, squeezing fun out of summer).
September I decided, enough was enough. I’m going to join derby before I forget how to skate. I gained 12lbs over the summer and lost ALL of my endurance. I was not happy. Late September I attended a little get together with the derby girls at a cute french bakery. I got to know a few of the ‘grannies’ and got some of my questions answered. I was pumped. I went to the next available practice.
First week in October I attended a Sunday morning practice. Endurance. Ouch. I thought I was going to die. For. Real. It was crazy. We started it off skates. Jogging in pace lines. I was sure I was going to die. After what seemed like an eternity of off skates slow death workout, we got our skates on. At this point I could barely feel my legs and my lungs were on fire as my head swam. I was NOT going to give up. I worked too hard for too long to give up. I had jelly legs and pretty sure I passed out a few times but I did it. I DID IT! For. Real. The next morning, I couldn’t move. I seriously thought maybe I was paralyzed. Ok well, maybe not seriously. I was sore. My muscles were upset with me. I told my legs, back, arms, and brain that I was not a quitter and that I was going to hobble around the house until practice that night, then I was going to let my booty get kicked again, and again, and again. That worked until I had to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t get off the toilet. I was stuck. I’m not going to go into how I got off… it was funny just be sure of that. hehe I’m sure derby girls can relate. 😛 I attended 4 practices that week. By the end of that week I felt good. Really good. I had my bearings about me. My brain was remembering things. It was fantastic. Since then I’ve been to a few practices every week this month. I’m still not where I was when I left Texas. I can’t wait to get to that point again. My endurance is shot. I’m working on it though. 🙂
For my 29th birthday… this year, I asked for lots of dreamy derby stuff. Back on planet earth, my list consisted of a skate bag, bearings, and the new derby game for Wii. Of course, since I am an adult and have a job, I am getting everything on my list (being grown up is fun sometimes!).
I’ve been using a JanSport backpack for my derby gear since the day I started almost ONE YEAR AGO!! (Still cant believe it’s almost been a year!!) The backpack worked ok, it was the only thing I had handy that could keep all of my pads and sundry in one accessible place. Two things I did not like about my back pack. First, my skates didn’t fit in it. So everywhere I went, backpack went on my back, then my skates in my arms… this created problems for me when I needed to use two hands to do something or dig something out of my bag on the fly. Second thing I did not like about my back pack, was that it would swing off of my shoulder violently if I it was on one shoulder. Sure I can fix that by putting it on both shoulders, but I never did (or rarely did). The swinging of the bag usually hit something on it’s way down, sometimes people, sometimes my cat, sometimes just myself. Ok, I know I should be able to live with these two annoying features of back pack versus my new bag, but sue me, I skate three times a week and I just want something that works!!!
Since I decided to get a new bag, I knew kind of what I wanted. My requirements were: bag must carry skates and gear, bag must be easy to transport (nothing massive or odd shaped), and it needs to look kinda cool (or easily customizable). So on my way, I payed extra attention to all derby girls I came in contact with. Some girls had hard cases that you carry with one hand, some had duffel bags, others had rolling bags, and the list goes on. I searched derby gear sites for bags, not too many options there. I also designed my own and looked into what the cost comparison would be to make exactly what I wanted (not cheap!). In designing my own bag, however, I did pinpoint my favorite features that I really just was not ready to compromise on.
My favorite bag, and a favorite among ice skaters, was the ZUCA Sport bag. Riedell and Zuca got together and marketed these bags to skaters. I liked it even more when I visited the Zuca website and saw how many options they had as far as colors go!!
-light up quad wheels (easy rolling up stairs)
-strong and durable metal frame
-lots of pockets inside and out for odds and ends
-super awesome water resistant fabric colors/options
-built in seat (yes, sometimes its no fun sitting on the floor!)
-totally rad logo (compliments my nook)
-tight turning radius
When I received this glorious package today from UPS, I was a little concerned. I had read up on the dimensions and skater reviews. I even knew first hand of two people who had the bag. I expected it to be bigger?! I got nervous! I emptied my derby back back and freaked… after throwing out all the trash and collecting the pennies that were rolling around the bottom, I started to wonder where on earth I was going to fit all of this gear!!
For illustrative purposes, and to ease any of your worries if you are considering a Zuca Sport, I’ve emptied my perfectly packed new bag and photographed the contents. (just so you can get an idea of what can actually go into this puppy!
To be totally honest, I did keep somethings that were in my back pack out of the new bag. Multiple chap sticks, 2(out of 4) extra skate laces, 2(out of 4) mouth guards, scissors(replaced it with my pocket knife), a pencil(still have a pen), an extra tshirt, extra ankle brace, extra elbow brace, and some old bout programs. I think this is just decluttering after a year of derby… but honestly had to state it. 😀
Here’s what’s in the bag now:
Extra Skate Laces
Handbills (for our next bout)
IcyHot (roll on)
Travel Sized Tylenol
Travel Sized Deodorant
Tampon (you never know!)
Duct Tape (purple)
DogTags a derby sista made for me
Little Monkey a derby sista gave me
(not pictured) pocket knife, bandanna, and extra tshirt
It’s really a great bag, now that I’ve put it all together. It all fits!!! My skates fit at the bottom of the large opening. I do have to stagger the wheels. I imagine that if I had the G-Rod slims they’d fit side by side, also would help if I didn’t wear a size 10W!! hehe… The front of the bag has lots of space for little stuff, and the sides have one large pocket and one small pocket and a large mesh pocket each. The inside of the main opening has one mesh pocket at the very top (I’ll keep my tshirt and bandanna in there) and a one large two smaller pockets in the flap.
The lit wheels were a little iffy for me, not really into attracting unnecessary attention, but they are actually really fun!! I like them! They have their own little generators inside that are charged up every time you roll them. No need for batteries!! The quad wheels are super neat for stairs. Though I don’t have stairs to test it on in my house, I do have drop down rooms that I have had no problem getting into and out. I’m very relieved that my back wont be strained anymore and that my gear is going to have a home that’s just oh so cozy! I plan on finding fun stickers/patches/pins to flair it up over the years… so watch out! 😀
If you are considering a new skate bag, look up the Zuca Sport. (priced at $150)
I’m really not one for new year’s resolutions. It isn’t that I can’t keep them, it’s more that I’m always trying to be the best version of myself. The new year is not any exception. I know I just sounded really conceited or whatever, but if you really know me, you know it’s true. This year, however, I’m going to document (on this blog) my goals for the year, and hope that you (yes, the one person that reads my blog) will keep me accountable.
Derby related goals… when I think of the new year and all the potential, it just wigs me out. I’m stoked!!! Last year at this time, I was one month into my change my life-lose weight-get fit-so I can play derby journey. I had NO IDEA how much derby would change my life. I’m ready to top my epic year with an epic-er year (yes, that’s a word. HUSH!).
Derby Related Resolutions (goals):
-Lose 20-25 more lbs by June (this will bring me down to my goal weight and optimum athletic body structure)
-Complete the Roller Derby Workout Challenge (got the DVD for Christmas! WHOOHOO!!)
-Learn backward crossovers (though I can skate backwards, the crossovers still elude me!)
-Master the can opener (chest block) -seek help from Wild Wookie aka wicked can opener master-
-Land bigger hits/Take bigger hits
-Learn to juke like a genie/ninja
-Skate 25 laps in 4 minutes (currently right at 5 minutes)
-Short-stride (sprint) for 2 min
-Complete at least 3 off skates/ 2 on skates workouts a week
-Attend RollerCon in July (and love every minute of it!)
-Be an asset to my league through team work, volunteering, and general awesomeness.
-Learn the WFTDA rules like the back of my hand… or should I say skate. hehe
-Be a guide and friend to all fresh meat throughout the year.
So, these are my goals… I know I can accomplish them all with some focus, determination, and accountability (yes, that’s your part!). So… I’m pumped, how about you?
I had a lot of interest in my little quest to fix my pusher foot blister issue. Since then I’ve researched a lot and gone all out finding a solution. I think I may have actually found one!! YAY! 😀
For the last 4 practices or so (plus one game), I have used a bunion cushion with medical tape. Basically, I place the bunion cushion in just the right spot then wrap medical tape around it to keep it from slipping around. This is a little more tricky, just trial and error with the angles and tightness of the tape. I ended up using a diagonal criss-cross type method with the tape to keep my foot from feeling restricted and also keeping that darn cushion in place for a couple of hours.
When I first put it on and then the skate, it felt weird. It felt a little tight in my skate, so I loosened the laces a little and just went for it. I’ve since not had ONE blister and furthermore, I have a nice big callous. YAY! 😀 I’m going to continue using this little guy and hope to never suffer from derby blisters again! Why did it take me so long to figure this out?!
Hope this helps some of you out. I imagine that even if your blister is not on that area of your foot, you can modify the cushion and tape it to the affected area. Its a nice squishy jelly feel that your foot will welcome. Let me know if it works for you!