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 and PNG versions are available from the Depot Map page.



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…


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!


I feel I should be writing a long piece about all the things I’ve not found time to write about over the past six seven weeks. I’m not going to.

Skateful Dead is a small team, very small. Our players are few and busy, so training sessions are often low numbers. I’m absolutely fine with this, that’s not what this post is about.

We train twice a week, Sunday morning for two and a half hours, Tuesday evening for 90 minutes. In between I train off skates, though not as often as I should. But that’s not what this post is about.

Just recently I’ve had a few sessions where I just felt like stomping out and quitting. This is when I’m jamming and getting completely stuck behind walls and yet others, who are only occasionally there and do nothing between practice, get through. “Why am I so f***ing useless?!”

That’s what this post is about. My poor attitude and how I’ve managed to escape it. On reflection it’s been a few simple things:

  1. Reading Treble Maker’s blog. I like her writing style and I can relate to many of the points that she makes. She also has some great exercises to work on.
  2. The Icarus Sur5al day. I expected to be nervous, but it felt like an opportunity to meet lots of new people. I jammed a few times and I didn’t feel out of place. I even scored a few points and managed to chase down the opposing lead jammer so quickly that she called the jam before scoring points.
  3. I’ve been watching loads of derby on YouTube, specifically the Division One playoffs. In just about every jam the jammer gets stuck, or cuts track/back blocks/gets recycled. If it happens to jammers at that level then I’m definitely going to get stuck.

I still have so much to improve upon, but I’m feeling fine with that now. I just need to train harder :-)

Comfort Zone

Skateful Dead

In previous posts I have pondered the metric used to measure training sessions. One that I don’t think I’ve considered is getting taken out of one’s comfort zone.

Gillie was back last week and brought with her some jammer assist drills. They were a mix of traditional assists and a few “out of bounds” assists. It was these that I particularly enjoyed.

Let me explain what I mean by “out of bounds” for the reader who’s life has yet to be consumed by roller derby. A roller derby track is an oval, with inner and outer boundaries. (These are marked with tape, and in proper games a rope beneath the tape to provide a tactile “edge”.) Skaters must keep their skates within these boundaries when playing. They can however jump out of bounds so long as they land back within bounds. This sounds impossible, but consider the inside of the turns – with enough speed and height it is possible to jump a section of the inner apex.

We’ve practised apex jumps, but this week we were practising assisted jumps. These are where the jammer uses a blocker on their team as a fulcrum whilst they jump out of bounds, typically transition 180 degrees and land back in bounds. The aim is to bypass the opposition blockers.

There were many things here that I wasn’t sure about. One, I don’t really like jumping – I like my wheels to stay on the ground. Two, when transitioning I like to lead with my right foot. It’s a bad habit that I’m working to correct, but non-the-less it’s there. And three, some of our players are quite big and heavy and I’m not, how was that going to work if they are using me for the assist? But there we were, with this concept before us and no excuse to not try it!

The assists typically take place over the inside of the track and consequently the assisted skater will be leading with their left leg. We started with assisted apex jumps and after a few attempts I was landing in bounds – toe stops for the win. Then on the straights with the “pegassist” style assist. I started of being assisted, which was fine. I again landed on toe stops and then spun around and away. Then I had a go at assisting and to my surprise I didn’t just fall over when fellow skaters swung around me!

A great session thank you Gillie!


Thursday evening I was again at practice with the Bruising Banditas.

We started with an excellent drill that they called “creepy blocker”. Neither Buckingham nor myself were familiar with it, and when demonstrated I think it’s fair to say that we both considered that it looked pretty straight forward. Working in pairs the aim is to maintain contact and prevent the other person from getting ahead of you on track. It quickly became apparent that it is not only quite difficult but also tiring! Definitely a drill that we’ll be taking away, though I wonder if men will go for hits?

After a mix of other drills we did an endurance drill. This is one I was familiar with, we’ve used it at our sessions. It’s a minute sprint, 30 second coast then transition and sprint anti-derby direction for a minute. Rinse, repeat. We tagged on the coffin drill for three minutes at the end. From this I found that Sonic Ruth is so speedy – passed me in both directions!

We finished with Queen of the Track. Lesson here was that Dislo-Kate-Her hits hard and can absorb hits too!

Thank you again Banditas!


  • I quit the gym. I’m struggling to find time to get there and every time I do I aggravate the injury to my left foot. I wanted to suspend membership, but that wasn’t an option, so cancellation it was.
  • Monday I went for a run. 4.85km in 24m23s. This was the first of this season, so I’m pleased with the pace. It did make my foot hurt to following day. I really need to rest it. Skating is fine, it’s the repeated impacts that trigger it.
  • I got new wheels for my in-line skates, ready for Berlin.


Leeds (and more)

On Saturday I was with camera over at Futsal near Leeds. Two games from Tier Two of the British Championships, Hot Wheel vs Newcastle followed by Leeds Roller Dolls vs Hull’s Angels. Both promised to be interesting games.

It was lovely to catch up with the Angels. I also found that I know (or recognise) players from all of the other teams – I’ve even been on track with some of them! I also knew some of the refs and NSOs. Being part of this community makes me very happy!

Hot Wheel vs Newcastle

Joanna BruisinGoing into this game I felt that Newcastle would win, perhaps by quite a margin. They took the lead early and lead throughout the first period, though never with an insurmountable lead. The half time score was 67 to 98.

Jerry Attric must have given a good pep talk during the break. Hot Wheel came out fighting, almost doubling their scoring rate! Half way through the second period there was a 9 point difference, 122 for Hot Wheel against 131 Newcastle. It looked like they might just do it! But then Newcastle pushed a little harder, not only holding on, but extending the lead. The game finished at 150 to 194.

Leeds Roller Dolls vs Hull’s Angels

Whilst I so wanted Hull to win this, I know that LRD are a really strong team. During the warm up I noticed that Leeds were playing just 11 players (14 being the usual) – so perhaps that would favour Hull? HARD were playing some skaters that I’ve seen (recently) skating on the B team. Great to see players making progress. Well done Chickass and Kinevil Dead. The other fresh face that I didn’t recognise was Lee, a recent transfer from Liverpool Roller Dolls.

Leeds controlled the game from the first jam and extended it throughout. There seemed to be be two main factors. One, their walls were rock solid and their recycling first class. Two, Ripunzel seemed to be able to find a clear lane on the inside of pack every time see needed to get through.

During the first period El Nasser fell/got knocked down to the outside of turns one and two. She was obviously immediately in pain and didn’t get back up. The game stopped, medics attended to her and she was moved out of the way. An ambulance was called to provide pain relief and she stayed until the end of the game. It transpires that she has broken her fibula in two places. Not good at all for a skater. I wish her a very speedy recovery.

Hard played, well, hard throughout the game but Leeds were relentless. In the second half Iron Giant got expelled for a back block on Rip – the result of mistimed blocking attempt I believe, but she fell as a result. (Giant was immediately most apologetic and again after the game.)

An eventful game, ending at 279 for Leeds against 88 to Hull. (I later noted that UKRDA rank Leeds 6th and HARD 20th.)


No Gillie and Phil again this week, so once again Carly stepped up and came up with a really great session – she deserves a medal! It was good to see captain Chris – not skating and obviously still not comfortable even when walking. Bilb was also there (not skating) – good to see him too. On track we had Baker, Jim, Matt, Niven, Buckingham, Lloyd, Tony and me.

This week we had a mix of drills, some time to work on personal goals and an extended endurance section. One of my goals is to be able to lead with my left foot; years of leading with my right is difficult to change. Finally, whist eight is short of a full team, it does allow us to scrim with two balanced reasonably sized teams, and that we did.

I’m pleased to report that my skate repair seems to have worked well. There was no detectable flexing as there had been before the repair and the fracture doesn’t appear to have spread any further. My back felt a little tender after the session so I did loads of stretching when I got home and it was fine. Happy!


The past few weeks have been odd. I’ve not found time for so many things that I want to do, I’ve injured my foot, twice, and last week we broke Chris.

I injured my foot at the gym, with hindsight, from doing a plank exercise. Not a static plank, but one which involves rolling one’s feet on to tip toe. The pain was in the big toe of my left foot, which was swollen and hot. It passed after a few days the first time, though it was remarkably painful at the time, and walking was no fun at all. The second time wasn’t as bad fortunately.

Training has been fairly well attended, eight on skates last week. Unfortunately we broke Chris, our captain. He took a fall, twisted his back and didn’t get up. That put a bit of a downer on the session, of course, and he carted away in anSo, an ambulance was called ambulance. Soft tissue damage – muscular we believe. So he’s off skates for a bit and taking things easy. Speedy recovery Chris!

I feel mixed about my derby skills. My blocking is improving, but my jammer skills seem to be stalled. I’m not sure how to improve them. I’ve also had a big question hanging over me about playing against strong teams. Knights of Oldham invited us over to play against Barrow Infernos. I immediately said that I didn’t feel I was ready. Then low numbers and kind words persuaded me to say that I would play, though I was a little uncomfortable at the thought. Then Chris got injured, so I felt more pressure to play. In the end I found that my son was with me, so I couldn’t make it. Add to that difficulties at home at the moment, leading to lack of sleep, and my brain feels utterly mangled. I just keep reminding myself of the positives in my life…

Twenty Fourteen

Facebook has, of course, offered to compile a set of images that is supposed to represent a review of the past year. I have passed on that golden opportunity. I offer you, dear reader, a more thoughtful version.

Last Christmas I was suffering the pain of a herniated disc. Such pain that I played “lying down” charades with the children as it was the only way I could find relief. It was a bloody awful Christmas and in January I declared that I would be quitting roller derby. I just wanted to crawl into a hole and stay there. But derby friends immediately came to my rescue and said that I should still be involved, NSOing or refereeing. Well, with hind sight, “being involved” was never really going to stay that way. In mid February I saw an MSK specialist who reassured me.

By March I was back on track. I was at back at practice, though taking it careful. I also took out a year gym membership, to build core strength to better support by back and hopefully prevent repeat injury. I’d been encouraged to swim to help my back but I found that it made my back hurt – I don’t do front crawl, which is what I should have been doing. I also found that fitting in swim and gym was consuming a fair bit of my free time.

A long weekend around my birthday in April gave me time to think, and skate lots. The atmosphere at work had changed substantially and not in a good way. These two strands in my life seemed to be saying that I needed to kick myself in the arse if I expected change. So I set my mind to improve my fitness level and to find a new job. Shit!

May saw Skateful Dead’s third co-ed scrim. I wasn’t skating by then, though I note that the training session at the end of the month was particularly good. By the end of May I had found a new job. I started at the end of June, so had a month read up on the technology I’d be using. I was too busy to write, though did manage to fit in some derby photography, which included a trip up to Scotland with Hull’s Angels.

My new place of work is Bradford, so the commute is half the time. Some flexibility in start/finish times also helps greatly with the trains. I clearly recall going for a run one fine evening and bumping into Leeds commuters arriving on the late train that I used to get. That extra free time has allowed me to fit in gym sessions after work and still get home at a reasonable time. The job is going really well. I finished my first project in reasonable time and it’s been well received. The current project involves phased releases as it’s pretty big. I getting to use some agile programming techniques and they are working well. Very happy at work now.

August was the Men’s European Derby Championship, held in Newcastle. But for me the bigger event was our co-ed scrim. I felt that I was safe to play and I loved it. I got to skate with some amazing skaters including four from HARD, some from LRD and a few from Scotland who happened to be in Newcastle but nipped down for the scrim. It was a confidence booster that I feel everyone needs from time to time.

Over the summer holiday we (The Skateful Dead) seem to ‘lose’ a few regulars. They haven’t moved on to skate with other teams, they’ve just become too busy to make it to training. One session there were just four of us. Numbers seem to have improved recently, last week we had ten – enough to scrim. Gillie, our coach, and Phil, one of our skaters got married in October. They also took time off to prepare for that. We managed without, as you do, but a coach is an important person on the team.

In September I had opportunity to get on my aggressive (in-line) skates again. A group, which seems to be led by LRD skaters, had arranged a “skaters only” session at The Works in Leeds. It’s an indoor skate park. I’ve been there three or four times now and I’ve found that it’s really helping with my jumping and transitions. I highly recommend giving it a go.

During September/October I had a row of five weekends where I was doing something “derby” every weekend. The biggest of these was a trip over to Dublin with HARD. Crazy flight times, little sleep, grumpy photographer and a jolly minibus trip. All the fun!

After the flurry of activity, November seemed quiet. I managed to get some development time in on my Penalty Timer app, incorporating changes that became apparent during use. I was excited by the prospect of Christmas too, and put my tree up at the end of November.

December brought a well attended Skateful Dead co-ed in which I took part, followed by a trip over to Hull. Photography for both the A and B teams then the HARD Christmas party. A really good start to the Christmas period.


It is also little over a year since I first did photos for Hull’s Angels, covering a closed scrim against The Crucibelles. Since then I’ve been over to Hull quite a few times, down to Nottingham, up to Scotland and even over to Ireland. The journey to Scotland was pivotal in my getting to know them better. We travelled by coach from/to Hull, so plenty of time to chat/listen to chatter. Dublin too was so lovely. I felt very much part of the team there. I’ve covered eleven games/events with the Angels this year and a handful of others in amongst. Looking at data from my camera I see that in over the past twelve months I’ve taken over 28,500 photos

Thank you

There are too many people to thank individually for all the lovely things that have happened this year. I do though want to name a few whose actions and support have drawn me further into the derby community and made the year such fun. First, Carly and Lawrence for not letting me quit in January when that’s all I wanted to do. Second, Danni, Julia and Abi for getting/keeping me involved with Hull’s Angels through which I’ve met many skaters and travelled more than ever.

So much love for the roller derby community!


Weekend three of my derby crazy month and after the photo trip to Nottingham on Saturday I was at practice with The Skateful Dead on Sunday.

Not many of us made it, six in total, so not enough for a scrim. They can be odd sessions. I always tell myself that it’s an opportunity to work extra hard. With the training plan on hold we practised a variety of blocking techniques and walls, reformation and recycling. This did give me opportunity to jam a little more than my fair share :-)

I like jamming but I have plenty of room for improvement, so practice is good.
The number on track reduced further when Buckingham did his neck in and Ash stepped off (injury? hangover?). This gave opportunity for some free time so I worked on transitions.


Sam (Flame) had arranged at bit of a session at Subvert in Wakefield. It’s a small indoor skate park that is party of the shop, in the Xscape centre. I didn’t make it there until after 6.30. Sam and two others, Maha and Gemma were already there. I kitted up and joined them. The young lad in charge seemed pleased to have new interest in the park – “sick”!

There was a small group of boarders there too, practising a route/trick over and over. I guess that’s what it takes to get them down pat. That made me feel better about being too timid to drop in to a half-pipe or grind an edge. Both are things that I long to do.

I managed to fall on my left knee. It hurt more than it should have done. I guess my knee pads have had it; I ordered some more this morning. Hoping that they’ll arrive before Friday.

An enjoyable evening. Thank you Sam for your encouragement and Maha for letting me talk you to death on the journey back to Leeds. (The image I have in mind is Airplane, over Rio Grande :-) )


This evening was a gym evening. Nothing special, but it does mean that I’ve exercised three days in a row, that has to be good. I seem to end a good number of my days carrying around a rucksack of sweaty clothes :-)