Depot Map

Over the past months I’ve been bouldering regularly at The Depot near Leeds (New Pudsey).

Bouldering problemsI’m also taking part in the bouldering leagues. Thirty problems, ranging from easy to seemingly impossible. These are changed every month. They’re a great way to evidence improvement. You award yourself 10 points if you ‘flash’ a problem, 7 points if you get it on your second attempt, then 5  and finally 4 points if you need four or more attempts. The maximum score per round then is 300.

There are many other problems to work on. They are graded by colour and overlap in difficulty. So white problems are the easiest, then blue, black, red and others beyond my capability. These are also changed regularly. The thing is I can never remember which one’s I’ve done.

Whilst printed sheets are available for the competitions, showing a map and scoring grid, nothing exists for general use. To fill this gap I’ve created one, which I make available here, released under a Creative Commons licence. The link below is for the PDF version, the SVG versions are available from the Depot Map page.


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The last time I played roller derby was on 6 May last year. I’d organised a birthday scrim for Hylander and Fox. We had a handful of friendly referees, only three NSOs and just enough skaters to make it six a side. We made a mess of laying the track. Despite all this it was a lovely game and I felt it was a natural point to quit the sport.

I’m still skating in-lines, as a have done for almost 15 years now. That makes roller derby seem like a blip in the time line! On holiday in Berlin last August I covered plenty of kilometres, most noticeably Skate by Night and a roll out to Tempelhof airport.

I’ve also reverted to climbing. I have climbed for many years, possibly more than I’ve skated? I’ve managed occasional visits to The Depot and Leeds Wall in recent years, but there are only so many hours in the day.

I am now bouldering regularly, often two or three times a week. I’m taking part in the bouldering leagues and I’m seeing noticeable improvement in my ability.

I can’t help but compare it to roller derby. There are no ‘teams’ exactly; the ability to climb a problem rests solely with the climber. But I often climb with Rachel (colleague) and Colin (her boyfriend) and we tackle to problems differently/together/as a ‘team’.

The community is very friendly and willing to give advice. It’s perhaps even more inclusive than roller derby? Climbers of different gender, physical build and ability all co-exist without issue. The barriers to entry are very small too. Children as young as five (my estimate) through to adults even older than me are regulars. Equipment requirements are minimal, shoe hire an option for those wanting to try out.

The things that I miss from roller derby are the sweatiness, the physical contact and some of the people. Co-ed games were the most fun because the macho players generally stayed away from them.

Would I go back to playing? Maybe…




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This week I seem to have fallen back in to doing more exercise.

Short Version

  • Friday, bouldering (indoor)
  • Saturday, run
  • Today, roller derby

Rambling Version

If you’ve read this far then well done! I was reading back through this blog last week and it brought back lots of memories about my progress playing and understanding roller derby.

Friday I was off work and made the effort to go over to The Depot near Leeds. I used to climb/boulder twice a week, so I suppose at the time it was my “roller derby”. I’ve been to The Depot a few times (with Alex). Great venue, easy to get to, routes are changed frequently and they do coffee and cake! It was a reconnaissance trip as some of the team are interesting in giving it a go. It was as well I did as I’m only allowed to sign in two non-members.

I really enjoyed it. As it was during the day it was really quiet. I did sudoku/crossword on the way there and read (The Hunger Games, still not finished it Katie) on the return journey.

Yesterday was fine and I really had no excuse not to go for a run. It was a little frustrating to start with. I intended to do my usual 5km route but the steps down to the tow path were barricaded – they’re working on the canal over quite a length at the moment. I carried on along the main road then came back along the cycle route. Right knee was uncomfortable towards the end so I only did 4km in about 23 minutes. Room to improve!

Today was Skateful Dead practice. Si and Dave were absent, both for very valid reasons. We had five on track, Liz, Trubs, Woolley, Bucky and myself, with Carly reffing/coaching. It was a really good session. Sweaty! We have (slightly more formally, we don’t do politics) agreed that training sessions will be co-ed. This was, I think, the first session where females have out-numbered males, surely a clear indicator that gender is of no importance in this game :-)

As we were walking out Woolley noted that, while she is the same age as my daughter, she felt that all of us (present) were her age. I quite understand this and it makes me very happy.

And if you’ve bothered to read this far then thank you, now go do some housework, which is what I’m avoiding!

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Skate Like a Girl #2

The Skateful Dead have long been open to guests training with us and a little while ago we officially made our practice sessions co-ed. It is working very well.

I post this evening to sing the praises of Sonic Ruth. She is probably known to many of you. She captains Halifax Bruising Banditas and has been training with us for a few months now.

At the end of every session I tell her that her hits are awesome. This evening was little different except with one of her hits she winded me.

Now I’m no muscle monster, but I’m taller than her and, I’d hope, stronger. I would expect to get beasted by a bigger blokes but not by her. It somehow shocks me every time and yet I love it!

Add to that her speed and change of direction and Bucky and I often found ourselves with no solution to her hitting, duking and escaping us.

Thanks for training with us Sonic! x

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What does it weigh?

A little ago I was gifted some quad skates. They are beautiful Jacksons and fit perfectly (thank-you again Carrie). Whilst I was moving my plates over I took the time to weigh each component. Per skate:

Component Weight (g)
Plate, with nuts 523
Boot 499
Wheels and bearings 497
Toe stop (half worn) 78
Mounting hardware 23
Foot pad/cushion 14
Lace 13
Total 1,647

So you’re carrying about 1.5Kg on each foot and that’s why it’s called endurance!

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Different League

After a few quiet training sessions, a cancelled Sunday and a Tuesday with only two of us, today we where back to normal. “Normal” for us is five.

The drill then was three blockers against a jammer and an assist. We rotate the jammer and mix up the teams. I enjoyed the session, but I do feel like I’m playing way out of my league, especially when I’m jamming.

All the others seemed to make quick work of the wall with fancy footwork, stop and go stuff or just powering through. I just got stuck every time. I can push through, but only if my assist holds position and I knacker myself out heaving blockers 30 feet down the track. I don’t know what to do to improve.

Anyway, the superstars this evening were HYLANDER, Dubinator, Si-Clops and Buckingham Malice.

(On the way home our superstar ref/coach/everything posted praise in our Facebook group. Obviously a good session!)

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Gender. Who cares?

Earlier this week there was discussion on social media about a vitriolic blog post regarding men, sport and roller derby. I responded, off line, to Treble Maker’s request for respectful comments and was pleased to get a reply from her. There was also discussion in our private Facebook group.

One benefit of the post was to make the reader stop and consider their experiences and views of the sport. Writing those down for Treble Maker helped of course.

Perhaps the most important thing that I noted is that I have never considered gender to be an issue in roller derby. Never on track nor off. Players, referees and NSOs – gender doesn’t matter.

Skateful Dead is a small team (we’re working on it!) and so for most of us our co-ed scrims are our only game time. The emphasis of these has always been fun – above all else. I’ve never stopped to consider the split of male/female players on the teams. It’s not an issue.

We have a number of women train with us almost every session. That’s never been an issue either, not for the team nor, that I’m aware, for them. We just have all the fun!

Today was a lovely session. There were eight playing, Gillie coaching and Carly reffing, so after some skills work we had enough to scrim with short teams.

Thank you folks for making my Sunday morning so much fun xx


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Triple Header

Yesterday was my first scrim of the year, a co-ed that was the middle scrim of a set of three.

The first was a women’s cherry popper. I was down to referee for this one, and it’s been a while. My worry when wearing stripes is that I’ll miss calling a penalty when I should. I was an outside pack referee. (There are three covering a game, skating around the outside of the track, in front, beside and trailing the pack. They are looking for cutting the track to the outside, directional and multi-player/back blocks in the main.) It went well I think. I spotted a few penalties but before I could get the whistle to my lips others had called the penalty. We swapped around for the second half and the other ref seemed very few penalties too, so hopefully I wasn’t too far wrong. Time flew and before I knew it the game was done and it was time for a quick change ready for the co-ed.

I was pleased that HYLANDER was there. During the warm-up we agreed that there were lots of big blokes playing and that we were both a little nervous. (I hadn’t given it a thought until one of the other refs asked if I was playing in the co-ed and then if I’d brought ibuprofen with me.)

The teams for the co-ed were decided just before the game, on a very simple basis – two blokes and four women had to change from black to white. No bench or line-up, we just sorted ourselves out – Beat Monkey took on the role of captain and did the initial organising. After that we cycled players with a hitch. On track were a mix of players who I knew and a good number that I didn’t. About seven from The Inhuman League, some from Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder, Hull’s Angels and York Minxsters. (Apologies to those that I’ve missed.) There was lots of talk about the walls we should use and did our jammer want from or back wall and then it was half-time. I never bother checking the score but by then we (white) were losing somewhat, 10 points to black team’s 130 something.

During the second half I jammed (just the once) and got one penalty (a low block, falling as I tried to stop Claud Apart). We also managed to score a few more points, ending up with around 50 I think, to over 200? (possibly, I’m never much bothered.) More to the point, the game was played in good spirits. There was moment towards the end of the second period where the jammers collided, helped each other up and carried on around together, the lead calling it as they reached the back of the pack.

That was to have been my day. The final scrim was a mixed women’s game, which I expected to be watching. However, one of the other refs asked if I could take his place. Ha! Bonus! I did another quick change and kept going for another hour.

It was a brilliant day. The Angel’s were all as lovely as ever, Harmony, Dane-ish, Flowers and Iron Giant to name a few. The co-ed was ace, Minxsters, Claud, Jenna (who took some big hits and is just so cheeky). I didn’t mess up whilst reffing, thank you Ref Metal (?) and Owen for your help. Quite a few compliments on my leggings too!

Big love! See you all soon :-)

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Death by…

I have posted previously that Skateful Dead occasionally suffer low turn-out at practice. Recently this has been particularly bad. Indeed, I had the distinct feeling that people had made new year’s resolutions to skate less.

On 10 January we there were two of us. We were, thankfully, joined by Sue Perman as a guest coach. She always delivers a non-stop session – focussing on footwork this time. She was also happy to get on track with us, so making three. (Plus Carly our ref and Gillie our regular coach.)

The (short, one hour) Tuesday session was well attended. Then the 17th we were back down to two, plus Carly and Gillie. Rather depressing. Discussion turned to the future of the team as we can’t continue to play out more for use of the hall than we take in dues/fees. As a dues payer I’d never really stopped to think about this, though it makes sense. The team can’t continue to run at a loss.

We all have lives outside of derby (so I’m told) and it’s not always possible to make it to every session. (I missed training yesterday to travel over to Hull and ref/play there.) The problem, we felt, was people saying they’d be at a session and then not turning up. If we know we are going to have low numbers then we can (reluctantly) cancel the session. Numbers also impact on Gillie’s lesson plan. Carly sent a message to the group pointing out the situation.

After that session I was mentally preparing for the team to fold. Well, I’d have more free time, but I really enjoy playing with Skateful Dead. I don’t think I’d want to play for another team. Would I have to join Aire Force One or Manchester? Bugger!

Fortunately the message was well received. Tuesday was well attended and last Sunday we had a great turn out. It made all the difference between two and a half hours of scratting around for something to do and a packed, non-stop session that left me absolutely knackered!

So I want to thank everyone for making the effort to get to training. A special note to those who travel silly distances to get there, Simon, Jim and those from York, Stephen, Georgie, Tanya and Beth. Thank you! :-)

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A while ago I had an interesting conversation with another derby player.

He was saying that he wished that blokes that he known in the past could come and see him now. Come and see him play roller derby. Come and give it a go. Not just give it a go, but understand the players.

By people from his past he meant those that he’d played other team sports with; team members. He mentioned football and rugby specifically. He explained that, when he was part of those teams, that the members, himself included, had a strong opinion of what was “normal”. If you weren’t “normal” then you didn’t fit in. You weren’t part of the team. He actually said that looking back he realises that he was a dick. And so too where the other players. He wanted them here now so that they could see that in themselves and change.

On appearance alone I would judge him as fitting in to a “traditional” sports team as a “proper bloke” in a way that I never have done. At school I avoided rugby, electing to play fives, badminton or go cross-country running instead.

I started at roller derby when a friend invited me to give it a go. I’d long enjoyed skating and it seemed an ideal opportunity to spend more time with wheels on my feet. I never stopped to consider if I’d be any good at it or if I was too old, it just seemed like a fun thing to do.

As I settled in it soon became apparent that this is a diverse and welcoming community – one where “normal” is just to be yourself. Well done derby community, keep up the good work :-)

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