Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Derby Little Secret: crop dusting and poop decks.

Ok, this is not for the easily offended, but I'm going to talk about a couple of under the table secrets of derby.

First of all, before I joined derby, I was a NORMAL WOMAN!  I did not talk about bowel movements in public, nor did I share my bathroom routines with anyone; it would have been unheard of.  Only men talked about pooping.  I always figured men talked about it so much because it was a creative outlet for them, but when I joined derby, I finally learned that talking and thinking about pooping was going to be a part of my routine from now on.
Everyone Talks About Poop

To be honest, I didn't think about it that much until I started getting into contact drills with my league; up to that point, we fresh meat were sort of working by ourselves with a dedicated trainer.  We didn't really get to listen to all of the "real derby talk" because we were segregated into a safe area until we weren't complete menaces to ourselves and others.  When I joined scrimmage, I began to learn a few things that didn't have to do with skating.

Derby girls talk about poop, a lot.  Before a bout, we are concerned with what we eat because we don't want to have any intestinal issues during the game. I personally check out where safe places are that I can have some "private" time and not feel pressured; I also share these safe places with the rest of the team, just so we all can feel comfortable going into a game. Some players will talk about how many times they have gone that morning, or if they've gone, or what they could eat or drink to make themselves go, but not go too much!  That would be a disaster!  The best advice I've ever given any newbie before their first game is to make sure they GO before they play.  I think Dave Green, a derby photographer, put it best "Hey, I'd rather not have to Photoshop poop out of the derby shots!"

Derby girls also talk about passing gas.  When someone skates through a pack and farts, it is called crop dusting. Yes, we have a name for it!  Before I joined derby, I would have been pretty shocked to hear some of the statements made about flatulence; now it just seems to be the norm to me.  If you notice that someone crop dusted, you just roll away on your skates.  I've never been so happy to have wheels on my feet at all times.
Skate away!
 Please don't get me started on the burping.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Deez Nuts!

Hi!  I'm Q and I'm one of the mechanically declined folk of the world. Are you?  If so, skate maintenance may be a fathomless mystery to you.  Being one of the declined skaters, I often follow around and bother people who are proficient with mechanical issues.  At first I used to do it just to get them to "help" me (by having them do it for me), but now I actually want to learn junk, and stuff.

Let's talk about axle nuts; everyone has eight of them to contend with, and most of us don't think twice about them until something goes terribly wrong with them.  The reason we don't really have to think about them is that axle nuts keep our wheels on, until they don't.  The inside of an axle nut has a nylon layer that deforms around the axle to keep the nut from being shaken loose by any kind of vibrations and jarring we put our skates through.  Unfortunately, the nylon gets less grippy each time we change our wheels out.  Now, think about that.  How many times have you changed your wheels out in the last six months?  I've cleaned my bearings three times in the last six months, and changed out my wheels at least twice.  So, what does that mean?  Should I change out my nuts or not?
Who says they're no nuts in derby?

Yeah, I said nuts.

According to Sin City Skates, you should change out your axle nuts after changing your wheels ten times, but other experts suggest that if you can put your axle nuts on by hand, then it is time for new axle nuts.  If they have ever fallen off while you were skating, then it is beyond time to change them! 

The good thing about axle nuts is that they're cheap, like six dollars a set cheap!  If you have the 8mm axles, your local skate shop should have a set in stock; even your skating rink might be able to sell you a set.  If you have the 7mm axles like I do, you will have to plan ahead.  If you want to get fancy, they have some colored nuts you can order called Astro Nuts.  Ooh look! They have purple!  Sorry, I still get distracted by the shiny.

Astro Nuts

So, go inspect your nuts and see if you need to put some fresh ones on!  Please don't overuse your nuts!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Art and Derbyface

If you are familiar with me, you know I dabble in art. Because I'm a multi-tasker, I try to combine my loves; to combine derby and art can be a difficult thing.

I know a lot of artists involved with derby; some of my local favorite photographers are Joshua Craig, A Boy Named Tsunami, Bill Rhodes, Joshua Billingsley and Punk Blocker.  What these people do is fantastic; they have an eye for the game and catch the most amazing moments.  They have one of the hardest jobs, to document the game and make us look awesome at the same time.  That's pretty difficult to do with women suffering from "derby face".

If you've played the game for any amount of time, you know we all exhibit the symptoms of derby face.  Don't make me call you out; I'm pretty sure I could find an incident of derby face for every player ever.  I don't care if you're Suzy Hotrod, or Nellie Newbee, there is a picture of you somewhere making some crazy looking face while you're hitting someone or avoiding a hit.  Don't get me wrong, some of us make awful faces just standing still; I admit, I am one of those people.  See some of the pictures below.
Even Joshua Craig cannot avoid taking Derby Face
Special kind of derby face..."jammerface"
Moong awkward face
Courtney Mann caught a whole lot of derby face here.

It's a proven fact that you can see a higher incidence of derby face when people are jamming; I call this "jammerface" and giggle every time I see pictures of it.  I don't know what it is about jamming, but the faces we all make are pretty damned amusing.  Some jammerface involves a tongue hanging out, or just squishing up the features.  On the other hand, some of us have scary jammerfaces, like Moong's up there.  Personally I'd rather see a player have derby face than a blank look of panic, because then I know they are engaged in the game.  Whenever I see a girl with a thousand yard stare going on, I get nervous for her.

Once again, I'd like to bring it back to the AMAZING photographers who are charged with telling our story on the derby track, and manage for the most part to avoid making us look awkward and strange.  It's OBVIOUS that each one of these people are incredibly talented. Please support each and every photographer who donates his or her time and energy to this game we all enjoy.
A Boy Named Tsunami
Bill Rhodes
Joshua Billingsley
Punk Blocker

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Athlete or weekend warrior?

Why did you get into roller derby?  A lot of people do it for the fitness aspect, but then are completely sucked into world of roller derby. I was turning forty the year I started, and I decided that either  I was going to jump out of a plane or tryout for roller derby.  Guess where I ended up?

Before I tried out for derby, I was very into fitness; I worked out at least five days a week and loved being active.  I always liked moving around, but I hadn't been involved in organized sports for over a decade.  When I first started skating again (after a twenty year hiatus) I was in pretty good shape; my endurance was high and due to my bike riding, my legs were strong.  I also did weights and ran.

Last year, someone asked me if I considered myself an athlete; the question really made me sit and ruminate for a while.  Was I in shape? Yes.  Did I play a sport? Yes....but was I an athlete?  Maybe.  It was funny, but I didn't think I was hardcore enough to call myself an athlete at the time, even though I was making five practices a week and training outside of derby on a regular basis.  It was purely my perspective that kept me from calling myself an athlete; I felt like I hadn't earned it yet.  Looking back, I now understand, it was pretty ridiculous.

I am definitely an athlete; if I didn't have derby, I would still pursue active training in other disciplines, such as running, or biking, or even martial arts.  If wheels disappeared from the earth tomorrow, I would still be out there pushing myself. My league is now in derby break and I'm making myself take up yoga, because I need to be more flexible to be a better skater; I'm also focusing on yoga because it is a challenge, and I suck at it right now. Every day starts with yoga, and I gnash my teeth every time my balance is tested, but I keep pushing through because I am an athlete.

What would you be doing if you couldn't play derby?  Would you still be active?  Would you be pushing yourself mentally and physically to take up new challenges?  Or, when you aren't playing derby, do you find yourself being more sedentary?  Are you an athlete or a weekend warrior?  Which one would you rather be in real life?  I'll pick athlete, thanks.

Try your local Crossfit...I think they are a fabulous organization.

What you got under them fuzzy things?

A lot of you may know me as that tall, awkward player who wears the ridiculous pink furry legwarmers at Debutante Brawler games.  Even though I love my legwarmers, and thanks to people like Fairy Brutal, I have a plethora to choose from; but they do hide a dreadful secret from the world.  Yes, I wear shin guards.

I know, I know!  The shame of it all!  How could I be such a dork!  Well, I'll tell you, I love my shin guards and you can have them when you pry them off of my hot sweaty shins.

I started wearing the shin guards during my rookie year, after an unfortunate back kick I received from another league member.  When it happened, I had to crawl off of the track while trying not to scream obscenities.  I did mutter them though, and promptly got some ice on my shin.  The bruise was amazing, and developed into a negative rainbow of mostly greens and purples.

I felt ridiculous, because this ludicrous accident prevented me from skating the rest of that practice, not to mention how painful it actually was.  I sat on the mushrooms at our practice space and pondered my options.  Why hadn't I worn shin guards? I wore them without fear during soccer practice, and this sport was no less brutal.  Why did I feel so silly thinking about wearing shin guards?  After that practice, I stopped by the local sporting good store and checked out the selection of shin guards.

The really sad thing about shin guard shopping was, they were so cheap!  I could have prevented an extremely painful injury for nine dollars and change.  I almost slapped my forehead!  How much of our gear can be bought at that price point?  I finally settled on a pair of pink ones with ankle protectors, and at the next practice, I put them on and skated out to the floor.

I have bought a different pair since then, and I always wear them during scrimmage and drills.  At a recent bout, another skater fell with her knee directly on my ankle, and the paramedics informed me that the ankle protectors saved my ankle from breaking.

So, hear me now.  Have you had a bruised shin because of weird skate intrusion into your personal space?  I have seen so many fellow skaters get kicked in the shins and have horrific bruises and injuries that could have been prevented, but so many of us fight against wearing shin guards because we don't want to wear extra gear?  Really?  Some skaters have told me that they won't wear them because they're ugly.  I always say "How ugly are your shins going to be if you keep getting kicked in them?"  It's not like a shin kick is something you can train to avoid; weird falls and pile ups happen all of the time, whether you're skating as a newbie or a vet.  I personally would rather be comfortable and protected.

These are the shin guards I use now.  I get no money or endorsements from Adidas and Dick's Sporting Goods.