Today I’m talking skates. Bear with me, it is easiest to start this from last night!
Last week I was back blocked pretty damn hard at a bit of an odd angle which twisted and injured my lower back and shoulder blades. So instead of putting my skates on and causing further injury, I went along to help out at last night’s practice – which I have lovingly nicknamed “scrimmage Sunday” (as opposed to “Train hard Thursdays.) At one point I spoke with skater/coach Little Miss Chief who on Saturday made the move to new Reidell boots and Avenger plates. Originally she was looking at Roll line plates based on the store owners opinion – now I love speaking with derby store owners as they impart so much wisdom on you, however I have mixed feelings on Roll Line due to feedback from other skaters. I have heard a variety of opinions, most relating to Roll Line plates being generally better for figure and artistic rather than derby, whilst they are sold as being pretty “reactive” they are also sold with a hefty price tag. I must note that I have never tried a skate which uses a Roll Line plate so my opinions on this are subject to change or validation if/when I ever try them. What I have tried however are the Suregrip Mag Avengers – a plate I recommended to LMC based on experience. For whatever reason, LMC ended up with Mag Avengers rather than Roll Lines. Last night was her first time using these and when asked how she was finding them the reaction was exactly the same as my first. Whilst they felt good, something didn’t quite feel right. The problem? The plates had been mounted perfectly, but neither the store or LMC had changed how the DA45 trucks sat in the pivot cup. The way in which you are able to alter the seating of the pivot on these plates is fantastic! And this is something LMC did not know as she wasn’t expecting to get them so did not really look into. After sitting down, looking at and explaining how she can alter the plates to suit her, LMC was up and chuffed with the difference the slight alterations made, the ease in which she could do this said it all for her first real impression on the plate. The main impression it makes is that it is light, reactive, responds really well to your movements and really adds to agility. I had to explain to LMC that when I undertook 27 in 5 for the first time on these plates, I cramped up so badly. Why? I didn’t realise the difference in the level of work you have to put in on these plates compared to the standard probes. I was working myself so hard to get round on the Probes which essentially kept my feet flat and didn’t follow my skating on corners, whereas on the Avengers they reacted so quickly and kept up with the movement of my feet meaning I didn’t need to push as hard as I did on the Probes. I have found them ideal for my skating style and so I thought I would share my skate setup with you all!
I use a Suregrip Rebel boot in black (size 6) with an Avenger Mag plate (plate size 2). I upgraded from the standard Probe plates to the Avengers – awesome early xmas/birthday gift from MamaCidal/PapaCidal – the Man was wonderful and mounted these for me, whilst they are a standard mount they do sit slightly further into the boot than they probably would, but this was done to suit my weight distribution in the way I skate.
Wheel wise I am a mid wheel girl. I currently own
– 8 x Suregrip Fugitive Mids – 90a
– 4 x Suregrip Fugitive Mids – 93a
– 8 x Suregrip Fugitive Mids – 96a
– Blue Zeronuts and Bones Reds bearings
– I also have custom toe snouts from Derby Vixen
I originally started on R3s which were too narrow for my feet, then I picked up some Suregrip Rebels in standard form. I got rid of the original Fugitive wheels and went to Atom Poison Slims. I liked these but felt they weren’t quite right and figured I’d go for full on mid wheels. When I made the move to mids, there was not a huge amount of choice. Luckily the Man introduced me to one of his friends and generally awesome skater/person – Turbo Pete of Southern Discomfort. Turbo Pete has been invaluable for derby knowledge and has always helped me out without qualm – when playing the Big O tournament I spoke with him in regards to the wheel situation. As he was in the US and was surrounded by derby galore – we arranged to get some new wheels, based on his opinions and knowledge the decision was made to get the Fugitive Mids. From research it would appear quite a few overseas skaters use these, whilst most of the UK girls use Atom as a “go to” brand. Main reasoning for this? It turns out no-one really stocks the Fugitive Mids over here. This sucks. I find this kind of sad because these wheels are fantastic. The quality of the mid is much higher than that of the standard Fugitive wheel (some belief surrounding this is a higher quality material or better mapped out process), and to quote a something I saw on Skatelog forum the Fugitive mids have “much more bang for the buck” (or something along those lines.) I started with the 90a mids which I instantly took to, over time I felt with my skating style and weight etc I required something harder and I called upon Turbo Pete again to figure this whole thing out. I had previously mixed my Poison slims with my 90a as pushers, which were too soft and the mix was not ideal and probably a bit naughty – still it worked. I got rid of the Poisons and purchased more Mids, this time in a full set of harder 96a and a half set of 93a to be able to mix and match to suit the different floors we would encounter. Best move ever. (Well. It’s neck and neck with the Avenger plates.) The 96a suits our practice floor much better (our practice floor = pretty dreamy for derby) and the 93a help me out as gentle pushers when I feel I need a bit more support and grip. But when it came to visit Northampton for a training session and friendly scrim – my 90a mids were my saviour! There is a huge part of me which wants more and more wheels (a common illness in the derby world is “Wheelitus” – which is the over powering desire to buy more and more wheels) – I have heard very positive things in regards to Radar Diamonds for instance! But until I win the lottery this will have to wait. I WANT ALL THE DERBY!
When speaking with fresh meat about what they want to buy, I have highly recommended getting sturdy pair of boots to start with as they are fully able to upgrade the plates and wheels as they find their feet and figure out what kind of skater they are. The best thing about a huge majority of leagues is the fact we all have a variety of wheels, whether brand/hardness/size, and we are always more than happy to help other girls (spend money) try out our wheels for size.
The difficult thing to get across is the general idea that just because it works for someone else, it doesn’t mean it will work for you. You can spend days (even months) researching kit and speaking with various people but you have to remember that some brands have a bigger following than others whilst some brands are easier to get a hold of here and so become the norm. If I had listened to everyone else I would have gone out and bought some Atom Jukes or Heartless – both brands have their pitfalls, increasing feedback about wheels chunking too easily or wheels wearing down far too soon. But I listened to Turbo Pete and took a risk on a wheel which maybe wasn’t so loved – I don’t feel loved is right turn of phrase exactly, I would say that it is a wheel which isn’t so known and is sitting in the wings when it could be centre stage. Biggest isn’t always best. But again – this works for me, maybe you derby person sitting there reading this may go and try a fugitive mid and have your mind blown, or you may laugh at the idea of using a Suregrip wheel that isn’t the very much used Zombie wheel.
Kit wise I have a mish mash of pads – I would love to have matching pads but this is just not realistic! I have Scabs Pyscho knee pads, Anarchy elbow pads, some other wrist guards and a SFR helmet with awesome stickers. Also a variety of mouth guards (none of which ever seem to fit properly) and a team colour water bottle complete with stickers.
Kit bags – make sure your kit bag is big enough for what you need it for. But not too big that you can’t carry or pull it along. Pockets and sections are dreamy – separate your clothing/scrim tops from your kit – separate your skates from your pads where possible (you don’t want the sweat and condensation to mess with your bearings/plates).
My last bit of kit wisdom? Wash your kit. Air your kit. Love your kit. It will make it last longer and you won’t stink out your teammates the way I do – I will wash it… after our last session on Thursday. Promise Misfits.
Stinky pads award hands down.
Little Blue x