Just derby things

It’s a long-standing joke in the derby community that we have a few traditions and quirks that, while normalized for us, may not be considered socially acceptable by others. Look up any ‘Sh!t Derby Girls Say’ video on youtube and you’ll find jokes aplenty about stinky pads, getting lower and finding more black/ white people. Cliche it may be, this observational-style humor strikes a chord with all of us simply because we know how ridiculous some of our behaviours and traditions are, which makes us love them even more. So, here are a few of the observations I have made over the last year or so that amused me, hopefully they’ll amuse you too. I present #justderbythings





Fighting through the layers of tights/ compression pants/ hotpants etc to have a nervous pee before a bout #justderbythings

Going through all the bout photos, only to realise you have derp-face in every single one #justderbythings

Finding the perfect bout photo, only to realise the flash made your pants see-through #justderbythings

Wearing hotpants/ leggings to social events because you came straight from training #justderbythings

And something that I know I say quite regularly:


So have any of these happened to you? What amuses you about derby?


Bouts and scrims

Saturday Feb 15th was bout day! I was pretty pleased on a number of fronts, starting with the fact that I actually came up with the bout name! Our theme this year is Grimm’s fairy tales, and I pitched the Events Committee with ‘Snow Bite: Will YOU go into the woods?’. It was pretty awesome to see it turned into this amazing artwork and poster:

Snow Bite Feb 15th

I was helping coordinate the event again, and after a slow start I ended up with a great roster of Volunteers who helped the event run super smooth. A special shout-out goes to my long-suffering derby widow who showed up with me several hours before the event even started to help me move tables and yell at people, and then sat out on the foyer selling tickets for half the bout! I thankfully got to see most of the second half which was lucky, because the finish was nailbiting! We’ve played Blue Mountains a couple of times before and they trounced us last year, so it was pretty thrilling to be tied with only minutes to go and finally win by 20 points. Especially when we had 5 players playing their debut home bout, and one of them got to finish the night with the powerjam that won the bout for us! There’s more details on the official VDL page here.

While at the bout I also picked up these beauties which had just come in with a league group order. The scrim tank is reversible (white on one side, black on the other, with my name and number printed on both), and the armbands are heavy duty non-roll elastic with my number printed and sewn on. They’re actually really comfortable to wear, they’re made by Spank Alley who are one of my league’s fabulous sponsors this year.

Rabid scrim tank

I proudly wore them to training on Sunday, and of course I then took a bad fall in my first jam in scrim and twisted my knee *sigh* It’s not serious but it kept me out for the rest of the session.

But at least that was the second half of the session. Because it was the day after a bout, we had a shorter all-league training session first. Because of lucky coincidence, we had a guest trainer for the day. Copter was one of the original members of VDL, he’s since moved to Brisbane and now skates for Brisbane City Rollers’ men’s team The Scartel. He’s also been chosen for Team Australia and will be competing in the first ever Men”s Roller Derby World Cup in Birmingham next month as part of the Wizards of Aus. You can donate to the team’s travel costs here if you’re interested.

Anyhow, Copter took us through a great session on transitions and backwards skating. This is the second time Copter has guest-coached us and for all its brevity and mixed-levels  it was a fantastic session. We worked on doing transitions in multiple directions at speed, on skating and stopping backwards, on using transitions for blocking and finally having a partner guide you and control your speed while you were travelling backwards (it’s the most bizarre feeling, especially when trying to corner!). Copter is an absolute sweetheart who hits like a truck and it was a pleasure to train with him again, if you get the chance I highly recommend it! You can also become a fan on Facebook, just search for ‘Copter #173’. He joined our boys for scrim as well and they had a fantastic match.

I am not a summer person

Today, being a Sunday, I went to training. I was pretty excited, because earlier this week it was announced that instead of having 2h of drills and 1h of scrim, we were going to split the time evenly from now on. Our league has grown so much over the past year, especially since we now have enough boys to have male scrim as well, that 1 hour simply wasn’t enough times for people to get more than a handful of jams each (I know I skated in only 3 or 4 last time). While it does cut into our Advanced Training time, scrim teaches us tactics, strategy and rules, as well as letting us put drills into practice.

Unfortunately, today was also 38*C for the entirely of training and scrim (over 100*F) and I don’t handle the heat well. I did the on-skates warm-up, then sat out on the first drill because I felt a bit off. Did the second drill (a variant on a weaving pace line, using whips and circling each skater), and I had to sit out again. It took me 45 minutes to cool down to a point where I no longer felt dizzy, by which point training was almost over and I knew I jumped back in it would just happen all over again anyway. I briefly considered scrimming (since the longest you’re on the track is usually 2 minutes at a time), but the heat has also been playing havoc with my fibromyalgia so I geared down and took the chance to NSO again. I was pretty sad to miss out on so much skate time as well as scrim, but I have also missed NSOing the last month since I qualified to actually scrim myself, so I tried to just enjoy it while I could.

We’re supposed to cool down midweek so hopefully Tuesday training will be more successful for me, although temperatures are forecast to rise again in time for next weekend :/

Coming to the pointy end of the year

So earlier this week I found out that my mum has been reading my blog. Hi mum!

In the ongoing saga of my foot pain, I have wasted a bunch of money trying various kinds of inserts that didn’t really work. I found one that was useful for outdoor skating, but once I got to derby (skating around and around in a circle really is more fun than it sounds, promise!) I had to take them out after about 10 minutes because it was starting to hurt too much. I have however found some success with sports tape. I tape up my arch, put one loop over the top of my foot, and extend to my heel/ ankle if I need to. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it does help enough that I’m going to continue using it, despite the PITA that is tape residue and the pain of removing bits of skin and hair every time I have to take it off afterwards. I now need to buy more tape. And possibly more socks, as now any socks worn for derby are also getting filled with sticky tape residue.

I did a definite 5-in-1 last weekend. We did a 10-in-2 and this time I made sure to count properly. When they called 1 minute I was at 5.3, and in 2 minutes I hit 10.5 laps. I was so ridiculously happy with this result. I spent the 2 minutes just concentrating on my stride, one foot in front of the other, push around the corners and it paid off. I’m faster than I think I am! I have to admit I was getting very frustrated with the fact that I was consistently missing out by 1m every time when the whistle blew 1 minute, but now my crossovers are much smoother, my skills have improved so I no longer slide around corners, and my endurance has improved as well. I’m not a sprinter, but I can apparently hold my top speed for the full 5 minutes of the 27-in-5 which to me is far more valuable. I was overheated and puffed when I finished my laps, but I recovered fairly quickly and was ready for the next drill.

That being said, I am having some troubles with the weather. It’s now officially summer, and our practice area is essentially a big tin shed. It has a couple of louvers and a side door for some crossbreeze (if available), and a fan in the roof (but if it’s on you can’t hear people talking unless they yell), but for the most part it is hot and still and gets pretty stuffy pretty quickly, especially on all-league nights when there are 40+ skaters trying to make the most of their track time. I am a winter person and don’t deal with the heat well; exercising in a hot still room is my idea of torture, so I actually like having big groups where we have to wait for turns between drills (particularly when I can sit down and take my helmet off for a couple of minutes). I’m rather dreading January/ start of Feb when it will be properly hot (high 30’s to 40ish *C). But at least Canberra isn’t particularly humid, that would probably kill me.

There is just over a week left of our 11 month season. One more Sunday and Tuesday session, then testing and a break-up BBQ the following Sunday. I will be going for Yellow Star and I have my fingers, toes, legs and everything else crossed. I have applied to the Training Committee for permission to do push-ups/ planks on my knees again, it should be OK since I have a precedent from I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch blah blah blah. I’m relatively confident, there are just a couple of ones that I really need to hope for some good luck. My transitions are still a bit one sided (I can do them in both directions, but when I need to do right turn/ left foot I have to slow down and think about it, if I’m on autopilot I always go left turn), and I’m having some trouble with the balancing component. I can do a one-foot glide for 30 seconds, but apparently I can’t stand still on one foot for that long. Or at least, not on skates on a hard floor. But I’m building up. I can do it in shoes or in skates on carpet, and I’ve been practicing in breaks between drills etc and I’m getting better and better. I just hope that I’m ready in time for next weekend. The rest of them, well, it’s pretty easy to balls up taking/ receiving a hit, or go down after a wheel clip, but I know I can recover from all these things, I just have to hope I can do it when it counts.

I am looking forward to the Xmas break, but I am also sad that I will have a whole month of no training. I intend to combat my derby withdrawals with a liberal application of outdoor skating, but it’s not the same. It does also amuse/ terrify me that potentially a whole bunch of us will grade up the Yellow Star next weekend, which means that we are ‘scrim-ready’, and then have a month off between then and our first scrim. Of course, being approved to scrim doesn’t mean you HAVE to scrim, but I know some personality-types who are unable to say no to such an opportunity.

Lessons learned (there’s always another one)

So there have been 5 training sessions since my last update, but thanks to some computer issues I have lost all of my carefully-typed notes from each of them. Oh well, it’s about time I started speaking both more generally and more specifically anyway.

I’ve been having a lot of issues with foot pain, most notably arch pain when I skate. Things like crossovers, plow stops, toestop work and juking/ jumping bring it on much more quickly than anything else. My feet are always sore after training, but it’s usually bearable for the most part. A couple of Sundays ago, for some reason within 15 minutes of having my skates on my feet were cramping and screaming like I had done a 4h marathon and I ended up having to sit out most of the session (I kept trying to participate in the drills that didn’t involve jumping, juking or toestops because I’m a stubborn bitch, but it would invariably end with me sitting down for the next 5 minutes trying not to cry too much so I eventually geared down and watched for the last bit). I skipped the following Tuesday all-league training because my feet still hurt and I just felt generally exhausted and sore. I already use double laces, which is the most common solution for foot pain (ie. one loose lace across the ball of my foot and the arch, and a second lace for the top 2 holes so I can tension it and ensure my heel doesn’t slip). So now I am on a mission to solve this issue before it gets any worse or potentially turns into something serious. If I can’t spend long periods of skates then that will affect my endurance training, if I can’t do juking or toestops then that will affect my skill progression, and I don’t like the idea of either of those things! First step is i have bought a variety of orthotic and arch support inserts and I am trying them one by one for different lengths of time doing different things. I am trying to go outdoor skating once a week so I can get extra time on wheels, and so I am trying them there so it doesn’t impact on my regular training (since the first insert I tried actually made it worse and had to be taken out almost immediately, I don’t want to be cutting in and out of drill to adjust my skates constantly when I can just go down to the lake and entertain myself on a different day).

What probably didn’t help is that I had forgotten to change over my wheels on that particular Sunday. I had met Demo for a quick spin at the lake on the Saturday and left my outdoor wheels on, and went ‘bugger it, I normally slide on corners anyway so I’ll just see how I go on outdoors today’. I haven’t skated indoor on outdoors since my first week at boot camp! It’s true I didn’t slip on corners, but the extra effort required to get any speed or stop correctly would have been one of the triggers for my foot pain. I also tried the 5-in-1 and lost half a lap (got 4.5, normally 4.95)). True, I was tired and in pain, but that’s true for 80% of the time I’ve done 5-in-1’s anyway.

The new Yellow Star test has been approved by the VDL training committee, and they have made a special testing date for us right before the League shuts down over Christmas so we don’t have to wait until the end of the next training cycle in Feb/ March to test again if we feel ready now. The new test has a very similar fitness component to the White Star test we did last month, but is a step up on skills. There are a couple of points I really need to work on (balancing on one foot on skates without rolling and the 5-in-1 being the main two I have not yet accomplished), but I feel fairly confident otherwise. I’m going to ask Training Committee for the push-up exemption again though, as I am still completely unable to even hold a push-up position on my toes. Fingers crossed! Testing is on Dec 15, followed by the Xmas break-up party, which means we have 4 weeks to go. It sounds more scary when you realise that that actually means we only have 2 White Star training sessions to focus on the test skills, because this weekend is a bout weekend so this Sunday training is a free skate and Sunday 15th is testing only.

But I can end this entry on a high note. Despite the fact that I have not officially completed a 5-in-1 yet (I’m always just that meter short when the whistle blows), last night at League we did the 27-in-5. It hurt like a bitch, but I was able to maintain a constant speed for the entire 5 minutes and managed to scrape in 28 laps! I was stuffed afterwards, but I was so happy! I put this down to two things: 1) it was pissing down rain, and the humidity makes the floor sticky so I was able to crossover through corners (and in fact around the whole track!) without slipping, and 2) the 5-in-1 is a sprint so the speed of your take-off is critical, whereas the 27-in-5 it’s about being able to build and maintain speed for the whole period of time. I’m also pretty sure I did actually make 5 laps when she called 1 minute, but since I was concentrating more on not running into people and staying in bounds instead of counting, I can’t swear to be 100% on that.