The Road to Rollergirl How I Stopped Being a Roller Wannabe and Started Being a Rollergirl

5Nov/110

Movie Night!

Straight up, posting out of NaBloPoMo obligation because it's the freakin' weekend baby I'm about to have me some fun! So, like when you have a substitute teacher in elementary school, I'm going to leave you with this awesome video of how Riedell 265s are made. Enjoy!

 

4Nov/118

Sweet Torture: A Girl and Her Skates

My Skates!

These are my skates. There are many like them, but these are mine. My skates are my best friends. They are my life. I must master them as I must master my life. Without me, my skates are useless. Without my skates, I am useless. I must skate true. I must skate better than my opponent, who is trying to knock me down. I must block her before she blocks me. I will. Before my Coach I swear this creed: my skates and myself are defenders of the inside line, we are the masters of the pack, we are the saviors of my jammer. So be it, until there is nothing left to win, but the afterparty. Amen.*

There comes a time in a rollergirl's life when she has to set aside that first pair of skates and upgrade.

16Mar/113

Guest Post: Safety for Fresh Meat and Wannabes

Safety First, kids!

A Note from Your Humble Narrator: Today, a super insightful comment rolled into my inbox, and I couldn't help but ask the commenter if she would make a guest post. Luckily for us, she agreed! Without further ado, I present our first guest post.

My name is S.K.Pade and I'm with the Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz, the first German roller derby league. I was at the Recruiting Day at the end of August 2010, trained as a newbie for four weeks and then proudly and officially became Freshmeat in October. I should be a rookie by now. But things don't always go the way you expect them to go.

21Dec/1013

Fresh Meat Life (with Gear Chat!)

Now that it has been three (three!) weeks since my last post, I thought it would be a good time to look both back and forward at my Fresh Meat training.

29Nov/107

When to Spend on Skate Gear

When I was visiting with my little sister last week, I had an opportunity to look at her skates. She's rolling Chicago Bullet skates, pictured on the right.

Chicago Bullet Skates

Look familiar?

If you look at the picture on the right, you'll see that it looks a whole lot like the picture that I use as my user image on Twitter on the like. That's about where the similarity ends. Holding her skate and my skate in each hand, it was like holding a toy gun and a real gun: my skate was at least a pound heavier. I didn't get a chance to pull her skates apart, but some of the differences that I could tell just by handling them were that the plates were made of a really flimsy-looking plastic, the bearings had pretty much no roll out on them, and the wheels were made of a much less grippy plastic. The stopper is a hunk of hard plastic that is already wearing down and is permanently affixed to the skate.

When she was looking for skates and asked me what kind of skates to get and what they would cause, I told her that she shouldn't get "toy" skates, because they end up costing more in the end when she has to get rid of them and upgrade to beginner skates. I didn't really know whether or not that's true, it's just what they told me when I bought my skates. But after looking at her skates, I realize that it's true. It seems like the $40 difference between a pair of Bullets and a pair of Riedell R3s buys you a big difference in skates.

The other place that I feel like you have to spend is on your knees. Just skating, even in the absence of injuries, is pretty hard on the knees. It took just one practice of knee falls for me to realize that I needed more than the dinky Rollerblade pads that I was wearing. It wasn't cheap to upgrade to a pair of 187 knee pads, but having well-padded, well-fitting pads has been totally worth it. I'm even looking into some knee gaskets.

What do you tell people when they ask you about what gear is worth splurging on? Have you tried knee gaskets? Any advice?

8Nov/100

Bearing Magic

I just cleaned the bearings on my outdoor wheels for the first time since I got them in June. To quote Joey Lawrence: Whoa!

I had been wondering what the hell was the matter with me, why it seemed like I was really dragging lately. I was even wondering if I was starting to get deficient in vitamin D or something. And when I popped the cap off my bearings, they didn't look particularly dirty.

But when I put my skates on on Saturday morning, it was like a new pair of skates! I was like a new woman! Seriously, I could skate like the wind because my wheels--get this--would keep rolling after I would push. Never again will I wait that long before cleaning my bearings.

I will still take vitamin D supplements (I really, really hate winter), but it just goes to show what a difference some bearing oil makes!

3Sep/102

To All the Skates I’ve Loved Before: Fisher Price 1-2-3

As I have mentioned before, I have never been an athlete, and never played organized sports as a kid. This has put me at a disadvantage for a lot of things: missing algebra questions that assumed you know how many people are on a baseball team, getting really confused about golf and the idiom "under par," and I'm about 25 years too late for a career in gymnastics.  In fact, as roller derby becomes more competitive as a sport, you see less people whose only team experience was on the beer pong league and more who have been on skates since before Johnny Weir was born. But while you would never, ever catch me holding a volleyball outside the state-mandated torture of team sport-centric PE, I always loved to skate.

I was four years old when I got my first pair of skates. You know the ones - the Fisher Price 1-2-3 skates. The ones that they make today look like flimsy plastic rollerblades, but the 1-2-3's of yesteryear were plastic bricks. There's a picture of me from the Christmas I got the skates. I'm holding them in the air triumphantly and grinning into the camera. In the next picture, I'm standing in the skates, in my pajamas, still on the carpet in the living room next to the Christmas tree. I look like a badass.

The Fisher Price 1-2-3

Rollin' down memory lane.

They went on over your shoes, and were adjustable. They also featured a lock that would prevent the wheels from rolling or from rolling backward so that you could practice just stomping around in them. When the lock was on, the wheels would make this sort of ringing sound.  I was too little to do very much by myself, but I would skate back and forth on the concrete slab in our backyard. Before I learned how to skate, you'd hear the ringing of the wheels echoing off the houses in the neighborhood in a chorus with the cicadas. I'd skate until it got dark, and then turn take the brake off in hopes that I could keep skating quietly without my mom hearing me. I would sneak off to pee by a tree because I was terrified that I'd have to stay in if I went in. I taught myself how to skate by clinging to cars, walls, cats, anything that would hold still. How I didn't kill myself on those hard plastic little wheels is totally beyond me.

Eventually, the 1-2-3's were too small and gave way to a slightly fancier pair of over-the-shoe skates. Unfortunately I can't find a picture of those, but they were metal. This was already far past the days of the skate key, but metal skates are still pretty retro. Yeah, nicer skates were great and all, but I definitely regretted when I had to put away my first skates after logging probably hundreds of hours on them.
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Do you remember your first pair of skates? Were they "real" or "toy" skates?