Deep end

This evening was my second practise session with The Skateful Dead.

Sally was running the session. There were more people there this time, probably about 12 of us. We started with warm up exercises whilst skating round. I’m still a little unbalanced in quads and I very much felt like the new kid as others whizzed past me.

Then we practised “walls”. I still know hardly any of the rules, but what I do know it this. There are five players from each team on the rink during play. Four are blockers, the fifth is the jammer. The jammer has to try and get past the blockers. There are quite strict rules about grabbing other players, use of elbows and generally foul play. The blockers can either play defensively – by stopping the other teams jammer – or offensively – blocking the other teams blockers thus allowing their jammer through.

After some practice with three person walls and “cyclops” walls we moved on to something more like a proper game. The blockers form two rows some distance ahead of the jammers. Then all hell breaks loose as you try to block the opponents jammer, stay within the track, avoid falling over, resist getting pushed too quickly, only push with shoulders and hips and listen for penalty calls! It’s crazy!

I felt I did okay. I fell over quite a few times, made it past the blockers a few times, though apparently with various penalties – I suppose I had better make a start on that 65 page rule book! Very grateful to those that explained what I’d done wrong. It seems that they are a very friendly bunch :-)

I also thought I was quite fit, what with regular running and some training. I was glad that I took water – you get really warm really quickly – and I found that the gum shield made my mouth dry. I also discovered that I need heavier duty pads – elbow, backside and knee have all sustained impacts. My arms, shoulders and legs are already starting to ache. Best of all I have a couple of minor grazes on my arm – my first roller derby medals! :-)

After the session most of us called in at the Dusty Miller to replace lost fluids. We talked about training. I also found out that our first bout is in six weeks time – against a team that gets away with manslaughter on a regular basis by the sound of it. By then I need to have passed all my basic skills. Oh, and then in July we’re entered in the European championships down in Birmingham. Holy sh**!


Blades vs Quads?

So this weekend I trekked to People’s Park carrying two rucksacks – one for by inline skates and one for my quads. As new boy I felt I should really get some practice in. I also wanted to compare them.

The first problem was that the whole of the elevated section where I usually skate was still snow covered. Fortunately the path around the fountain was clear and dry, so I made do with that.

I started off in the quads. This was the second time I’d worn them and they still feel heavy and clunky. Cornering feels ridiculous and they wheels are very noisy on tarmac. I practised t-stops, on my my good side and my bad side! Cross-overs a little, though I didn’t fancy landing in the fountain if I got it wrong. I also tried stopping with the toe stop. I think I’ve sussed the secret of not falling over, but time will tell.

Then I switched to my inline skates. My heels felt very low! I have found this when switching between my Salomons and my Hypnos; my heel feels lower in the latter. However, the mild panic that I’d never cope with switching between the two soon passed and I was gliding about just like normal.

So, are the quads heavier than my inlines? Well yes, but only by a little bit. I weighed them, as you do, when you’re a bit OCD. The quads weigh 1.564kg each, inline skates 1.533kg each. I also weighed my aggressive inline skates. They come in at 2.137kg each! Perhaps they should be my training boot?

And the noisy wheels? This is all to do with wheel hardness. Further reading revealed that my quads have 95A wheels – normal for indoor use. My inline skates have 84A wheels, designed for concrete.

I’m looking forward to my second derby training session, which is tomorrow evening, indoors :-)



Last weekend I bumped into a couple of old friends, Lawrence and Carly. I know them from when Imogen and I were skating at the YMCA.

They said that they were setting up a male roller derby team. The practice sessions are on Wednesdays at the Mytholmroyd community centre. Would I be interested? How could I say no?!

So I ordered some “quads” from Rawk, rush delivery, and on Wednesday last I went to my first practice session. I was such good fun! There were only a handful of us there, which worked really well for me as it was a nice easy start. I immediately found that my previous knowledge was useful – I know what “lemons” are! We practised falling, single knee, two knees (rockstar), knees and elbows (pornstar), slide and some others. Then slalom, jumps and ending on cross-overs.

Gillie (our instructor for the session) asked if we wanted to do anything else. I quietly suggested cross-overs going clockwise. I was amused when the idea was declined; roller derby is played on an oval, skating anti-clockwise. Why would we need to practice going the wrong way! :-)

Looking forward to more training and hopefully making it on to The Skateful Dead team some day :-)


Red Nose Day 2009

Yesterday was Red Nose Day. A few of us at work agreed that we wanted to do something, but what? Cycling home the idea struck me – lets wear wigs!

Me, as Amy WinehouseThe following day we announced it and other ideas were added, a Bring & Buy sale and a puzzle, with a bottle of wine as the prize. I managed to borrow six wigs from a friend (thanks Vicky) so I had a good choice, and spares for others. To get people in the spirit, Mo photographed me wearing each one and I made a voting sheet. I put it up in the kitchen at work so that colleagues could choose my look for the day. Ten of the seventeen votes were for the long black wig, with suggestions (and doodles) of Brian May, Charles the First and Amy Winehouse.

When I mentioned it to Mo she said “Ooh!, I’ll do your eye make-up!” and that was decided.

Anyway, it was a really great day. I wore a wig, tattoos and eye-liner all day at work and for skating in the evening. Others joined in, wearing wigs, ribbons and red hair spray. There was a Red Nose lunch in the Piece Hall. The Bring & Buy was a success too. We had enough for me to hawk around the building at the end of the day.

Lots of fun and we raised almost £130 for Comic Relief. Thank you to everyone at Westgate House.

Lots of skating

leaves_on_the_lineI’ve managed to get out and skate five days in a row this week (though only for 20 minutes on Tuesday before the ground was too wet). It’s sunny today, so this looks like day six. Yesterday evening was wonderfully autumnal.

I’m also there with the paperwork that will let me teach skating. By 27 September it should be sorted. Hope this weather lasts a few more weeks at least. If you’ve never skated then you should try it – it’s fun!


When we did the ICP course (way back in April now) we were given names of a few companies to try for insurance. Well, having spoken to both, one won’t provide cover, the other seems very friendly.

So I’m recommending Into Sport, based in Leeds. Phone number for them is 0113 232 0704.

Teaching Practice

I spent some time today practising to start to teach skating. I still need to get insurance sorted out, but I’m hoping to afford that this month. I’m a little nervous about teaching and so I’m looking for some guinea pigs who want to learn to skate. I’m offering four free lessons for up to four people. Are you interested? Do you meet these criteria?

  • Can’t skate (rollerblade) but want to learn
  • Live in or around Halifax, or can make it to Peoples Park at the weekend
  • Own a pair of recreational skates (with heel brake), pads and a helmet
  • Are prepared to commit to four one hour sessions
  • Might even practice in between sessions

(I may need to add more criteria, depending on what the insurance policy says.)

If you are interested then please send an email to

ICP Vision

On Friday evening Mo and I went skating at the YMCA – as usual.

A lady there asked me how to go backwards. Well, what could I say?

When people, usually kids, have asked me that in the past I have recounted to them how I learnt. We have laminate floors at home – good for skating. I learnt “backwards” by pushing myself off the kitchen wall. Then I got so I could push myself back using my left leg as support leg and right foot slightly toe-in. Repeated this with the left foot. Then started to wiggle my bum and eventually got it.

But that was then.

Now I’m ICP qualified I could see so many things that needed to be fixed. I advised her that she practice going forwards before she tried to go backwards. (She kept on trying, as her friends could do it, and she managed a little.)

My perceptions have been changed. I found myself correcting my own mistakes and felt frustrated at being confined to travelling one way round in such a small space. I saw children falling, windmilling their arms as they landed with a bump. I wanted to shout “stop” and show everyone stage 1, just so that they could skate without falling.

I need to get outside more and I need to get some teaching done.