I have a problem.

A serious problem.

I bought more wheels. Things that happened today mean I now own the entire Suregrip Fugitive Mid range.

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However it is also sad as I recently found out when trying to purchase my final mixer set, that Suregrip are no longer going to produce the Suregrip Fugitive mids (fugi mids), they are however using the “Rollouts” as a replacement. Pretty similar however ever so slightly different in size. And it is sad they are changing the wheels, I’m sure it’s with good reason and maybe they have improved them, however I have the Fugi mids and I like them. I admit I would love a set of Radar Diamonds…. but sadly the fugi mids are much more in my price range – especially as there were few mid/slim wheels available at the point I bought.

My obsession with Suregrip Fugitive mids started when I spoke with a friend. TurboPete of Southern Discomfort and had a wealth of knowledge. So I bugged him for help and advice and thankfully he helped me out instead of telling me to do one. Turbo happened to be playing the Big O tournament in the land of derbygoodness and so we arranged for him to bring me back some wheels, under his advice and guidance we agreed that the Fugi mids would be ideal for my skating style and ability. I got them, I loved them. However I had chosen the 90a duro which did not feel quite so helpful where I could do with less grip…

So late last year I ordered a full set of 96a and a half set of 93a. I realised my mistake more recently in ordering the 93a, generally the idea with pushers is to have atleast a 4 duro difference for the mix to be effective.

Now, I don’t want to rock the boat with the whole pusher/anti pusher debates. I do feel that pushers/mixed durometer can be felt working. I do however feel a skater should be more than competent skating on a full set of wheels. This is my reasoning for having the full sets I do, and the half sets I do.

  • Grippy floor = full set of 96a
  • Slippy floor = full set of 90a
  • Also a half set (4) of 93a

I have felt a little bit of sliding on my 90a as of recent since coming back from the Christmas break and I do feel as though our floor has been cleaned within an inch of it’s life to have lost a little grip. So today I chose to order a half set of 87a bearing in mind the state of some of the floors in the UK I figured it is best to err on the side of caution and have a sticky wheel available to mix with a harder wheel to avoid losing speed as a jammer – I have experienced a problem in which sometimes I push too hard coming up to corners thanks to my figure skating background so having just a small bit of stickygrippy really can help when leaning into a corner.

So now I am able to mix:

  • 96a/90a mix
  • 93a/87a mix

So welcome to the family my half set of 87a purple Suregrip Fugitive Mids! I hope these will arrive before Thursday as I would like time to be able to bed them in as Saturday… wait for it…..

IS BOUTDAY!

Yes…. Saturday 15th will see me playing my first bout with Mansfield Misfits. We will be playing against Barnsley Blackhearts and will also be joined by the Inhuman League and Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder for a mens roller derby bout! I am sure I will write a bit more about this at some point this week!

Oh and my Suregrip Isis boots? Doing well! I went to Rollerworld Derby with my derby wife and our lovely Jevo for a free skate and lovey derby night out. I was taken out by a small child who decided to just stop infront of me with no warning or looking behind him whatsoever. Ninjasmallpeople. Cut up my knee which sucks as it is my prefered fall knee. But on the plus side, no blisters! Working with Compeed plasters, two pairs of socks and the power of unicorns!!

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A male derby player is born : “The Tankerbell Story”

So in my last post about my derby wife, I mentioned one of our friends – Tankerbell. Now this is one of those names you should really avoid underestimating! Tankerbell came into our lives minus his derby name, his derbybaby eyes so wide and curious, still much to learn in his journey through the derbyverse. Now I will not get into the debate over mens derby vs womens derby/should men be allowed to play etc… not right now. Infact right now, I want to share his story. I asked whether he would be up for writing something about his experience and the start of his derby journey – especially as Tankerbell did not join a mens team initially, he has seen behind the veil that is womens roller derby from day one!

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Dom. AKA: Tankerbell. #74

Tankerbell74

I have been asked to write about my derby experience… where do I start?

In The Pub
I was out having a quiet pint one night in the local biker bar, when a woman with bright purple hair covered in tattoos came bouncing up to me, and said “ ’ello, you look like you want to play roller derby!” I was more interested in my pint to be honest as I didn’t have a clue what she was on about.
This continued for the next 6 months, same drill when I saw her.
One night I finally asked what it was all about? Being a large lad (18st) and doing weights and martial arts I thought you got to be having me on! Mucking around on roller skates! I’m nearly 40!
So when a few more pints had been dispatched I said “Every so often you got to do something out side of your comfort zone…………..go on then I’ll give it a go” I resigned myself.

Next week I bought some skates and went down.

The Renegade Rebels
I turned up and what looked like half my local came in, it was all rock chicks! Awesome I thought!
So I got padded up (I never needed this much protection for full contact fighting!) strapped on my skates and flew, my feet went to shoulder height and I fell like a lead balloon. So glad I did all that martial arts training! All the break falls I had done came in handy that night, I can tell you. I spent most of my first lesson air born; the girls were laughing so much they couldn’t skate at all! I’m so glad it wasn’t filmed as it was more ridiculous than any slapstick film you have seen. After 2 hours of “flying” and with tears from laughter still in their eyes the girls bid me good night and I went off for a good soak. I was hooked.

Having to borrow your pads was a new experience for me, as some weeks you could smell it come in the room when you were down the other end of the sports hall. I found the only way to get rid of the smell was go fast! The wind is your friend! Its only when you stand still will the smell woft back up to your nostrils, with a scent that can only be described as Satan’s jock strap! It didn’t take me long to get a full kit.

It was with the Misfits I learnt most my basic skills. It was then I thought I could swim in a bigger pond….

The Mansfield Misfits
After several months of training with the Rebels I was offered the chance to go and “scrim” with the Misfits, great I thought! Chance to put all those hard earnt skills to the test. They were a bigger team than the Rebels and would be good fun. I went down with the lady (Walnut Whip) who started the same time as me with the Misfits, as she had gone down before to the Misfits and it was nice to have a familiar face there.

So I was all kitted up, ready to get my butt handed to me.
No.
They had a guest coach in for the night, it was artistic skating. Oh joy… I looked at Walnut who burst out laughing, “Just go with it!” she said……

Arabesques and all sorts they tried to get me to do, I looked like a buffalo on skates. I found all the girls really nice and helpful, giving me hints and tips, as I was massively out classed by all their skating abilities. I was asked if I would like to come back and have a go again, without the artful bits I hasten to add. And I spent a good few months training with the lovely ladies of the misfits.

Not only did it make a big jump on my skills, having pack work and scrims to do. I learnt about team work. Having done martial arts and the gym for years it’s all solo things, competing against yourself to become better.

From the Misfits I saw true team work, they all went out and partied together, looked out for each other all the time, and the one bit that drove it home was when they were doing 100 laps as an endurance drill. Most finished around the same time but 1 was left skating on, not giving up, determined to finish as she wasn’t as fast as the rest. One Misfit shouted up “How many left?”, “20” came the reply, and as one (me included) we all got up, without a word being said, and we all got on track as we wouldn’t leave one of the team to skate alone, and we all went round to finish the remaining laps with her.

It was a truly humbling moment for me to see that kind of kinship and bond between a team.

The Super Smash Brollers
There were local games going on, and the local boys’ team were playing on a double header, so a few Misfits and I went to watch them. The first thing I noticed was the boy’s game was sooooo different to the girls. The girls use tight walls and tactics always using their backs to slow the jammers. The boys would stop a train with their faces!
It was like a rugby scrum on wheels, they kept turning round and skating backwards and going chest to chest with a speeding jammer, and they moved the pack so much faster than I was used to!
That’s it I said, I need to do that! After the bout the Brollers announced they were doing a fresh meat intake, I was straight up and after joining in!

I was still training with the Misfits and doing fresh meat with the Brollers at this point. I saw the Broller fresh meat becoming better, some over took me as they took to it like ducks to water. It was ace to see. I knew if I wanted to play in a bout one day I would have to join up with them, but I still loved scrimming with the Misfits. A couple of months later the Misfits announced they were closing doors to non-members, so I couldn’t skate any more with them. To prove how awesome they are, I still get asked to their social do’s. and they’re still my favourite girls team! They have gone on leaps and bounds, and have their first bout soon! So proud of them!

Now I’m trying to remember all they taught me and all the new stuff I have learnt from the Brollers.
The lads play a much harder game, its faster, more manic, but you got to love it!
I’m hoping to go in for my first bout soon as well! Can’t wait!

Spread the derby love!

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As Tankerbell wrote, we still have such a good bond with him and we are all very proud of how hard he has worked and how far he has come! We are keeping our fingers crossed for a date when we get to go see him play his very first bout with the Brollers, we will make awesome signs and be there to kick his butt/cheer him on. Who knows – when he has survived his first bout, maybe he might be up for writing again to update you on how he finds the experience! The Tankerbell Story : The Return?

Thank you Tankerbell!

Growing up : Christmas Edition

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Let’s make one thing clear. I am a Christmas person.

For one thing – my name is Holly. Christmas points right there! My birthday is the 7th January so I guess it makes sense that my name was Christmassy with the time of year – also my dad loves Red Dwarf which first aired two years before I was born (I admit.. it is weird when you think that Holly was originally a male computer interface..)

Many people around my age are talking about growing up and growing out of Christmas, this is strange for me because I do love Christmas, I’m not obsessed with Christmas, not that girl that’s in all the Christmas films but I do genuinely love and enjoy Christmas. I am not religious so I guess if you want to be critical and work on technicalities it isn’t a holiday that I should celebrate, but then again if you want to work on technicalities – Pagans had the holiday first and even then it is loosely based on a Roman festival “Saturnalia” (Dec 17). Now all of this may not be exactly right, but it is roughly right… I’ll let you discuss amongst yourselves.  

For me, Christmas is special because it really roots itself in my love of family and being thankful. Family means a lot to me, and Christmas is one of the few times family members really make an effort to see each other and be happy and enjoy themselves. (I think the majority will agree, the only time we really see family members outside of your immediate family – weddings or funerals. And the odd Christening.) Yes as you get older the magic sometimes wears off, you go from being young and excited about presents to noticing the stress and tempers flaring between older family members – but generally it is a season where you do enjoy being together and are happy. I think that is a big part of Christmas joy – I recently read a story about some rich guy who gave his air miles away to people who really needed them, to families who couldn’t afford for long distance relatives to be with them and soldiers who wanted to be at home with their families regardless of the holiday. I hear many people saying it is about giving and many of those people assuming this means presents – yes the presents are nice, but giving yourself to other people, giving your time and love means so much more.

I guess all this prompted me to write this all out, my feelings about Christmas, why I love it, and why I just haven’t grown out of it!

I usually get excited around the 25th November when I realise that it is only a month til Christmas. As a child I only really knew Christmas was coming when the advent calendars came out, MamaCidal used to get me up and ready for school, school uniform, teeth and breakfast before I was allowed to have my chocolate treat before I left the house. This has been fairly consistent to this day, there are odd days I instead have my chocolate when I get home, the odd days when I get up, get dressed, teeth and breakfast but the dogs decide which way the morning goes! This year I have two calendars! Lucky me! I have a The Snowman Thorntons courtesy of MamaLinda and a Malteasers calendar courtesy of The Man. This year I decided to treat the Man and bought him the Star Wars lego advent calendar – which is £22!!! But it is money well spent when I get to see the smile on his face when he opens the door and gets to build a character or ship.

Christmas eve – excitement central. Our Santa sacks hung carefully on our doorknobs with our names on so Santa would know he had the right one, our “Christmas” outfits laid out ready so we could get downstairs quicker, so much to do and so much going on. We would have spent weeks thinking about what we wanted to put in our letters to Santa, making sure we had carrots and mince pies in for Santa and his Reindeer. Now obviously the Santa thing is one of the few things that has changed as I have grown up and became another role I played for my younger siblings as I got older (alongside the tooth fairy which I am sorry parents around the world – it can actually be pretty disgusting!) We would fight the need to go to sleep and eventually wake up to find the mince pies and carrots were gone and the tree was close to bursting! I have grown up with a pretty continuous routine on Christmas day. Wake up, get excited and wake the parents up – which I am proud to say I have done for the past 23 years – I have what I affectionately call “Christmas pants” – these are a range of boy boxers which have Christmas detailing and phrases on the elastic (the only reason I ever venture into Primark…!!). Upon putting on Christmas pants, the “Christmas song” and accompanying “Christmas dance” take place. I have always been in a good habit thanks to MamaCidal and PapaCidal to make sure I have breakfast before I open any presents – when I was younger and much more excited we were allowed to open one before breakfast, but just because it was Christmas it didn’t mean I could skip breakfast or not brush my teeth!! After the presents were all opened, MamaCidal would sit with me, Bear and BroCidal to make a list of family members and friends we were going to send “Thank you” notes to, we made this list by keeping the tags of presents and it really taught us all from an early age to be thankful. My grandparents on PapaCidals side would always come over and after saying hello and telling them about all the exciting thing we had received, MamaCidal and GranCidal would start with Christmas dinner, at this point PapaCidal and GrandadCidal would go to the pub. Christmas day is one of the few days our local pub would let children in and would be monitored allowed only to drink fizzy pop, juice or water (which makes sense) – as the oldest I was always allowed to go with them, gradually BroCidal was allowed to come along and more recently the whole family has gone and then come back to finish cooking dinner.

Now… the deadly Christmas dinner which wipes out families in one foul swoop. More food than anyone would ever be able to eat which really looking at it as I’ve gotten older is kind of sad when you consider that there are people who have nothing most days never mind on Christmas day – but it makes you feel better about mankind when you see shelters and volunteers caring for others in this world and donating their own time and resources to giving them a healthy meal and a special Christmas day in cases too. When everyone has made their way through Christmas dinner, it is on to Christmas puddings and then coffee, cheese and crackers. After which everyone passes out on the sofas for a bit watching Christmas television (or subsequently setting things to record to watch when not in a Christmas-coma). When everyone has livened up a bit, the women (bar myself) wash up whilst the rest of us walk the dogs before returning for a finger food selection – like anyone has room – and playing board games. The night ends with goodbyes and much needed sleep. This whole day is then followed by another day of eating our way into a food coma at another family members house on Boxing Day.

I think me going to the pub and Bear staying at home is part of the reason why she can cook a full Christmas dinner at four years my junior and I just can’t. Recently MamaLinda taught me how to do a roast – I didn’t realise it was as simple as putting the meat in the oven. I just need to learn to cook veg and get all my timings right and I’m home free!

For giggles I will also let you know that it wasn’t til this year I learnt that mince pies did not – as I previously thought – contain meat, but a different type of mince. Go me and my university degree…. I guess intelligence really doesn’t account for common sense. 

This year I had a slight blip. Myself and The Man had hoped to be in our house and be able to enjoy our first Christmas in our own home. Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances such as needing to knock down and rebuild walls… this didn’t happen. I admit it dampened my Christmas spirit a bit, and I had not felt Christmassy til the more recent weekend. We had not put any decorations up it MamaLindas, Friday night – we bought a real tree. This was step one in Christmas spirit, step two – decorate the tree on Saturday. I was originally stressing, getting upset, feeling odd because everything seemed to be cutting it close and I found it hard to muster up any bit of Christmas cheer. But then the Man saved it all by sitting with me and building the Ikea gingerbread house he bought for me. This made everything all better. He helped me put it together properly so it wouldn’t flop over and helped me decorate it before I put my Lego Derby girl minifigure plus tree on to make it look like an awesome Christmas scene. Since this weekend, I have got my Christmas oomph back. This week I have been getting excited, really excited. There are 7 days separating us from Christmas today. (6 now. I wrote this Tuesday night – infact this time next week.. IT WILL BE CHRISTMAS!!) That feels good. Thursday is also set to be the Christmas fun last session at derby, I don’t think we will be able to go all the non-derby time without seeing each other! Saturday night will be a blast as it is the night of the Misfits christmas do – including Misfits Awards, Secret Santa and no doubt getting drunk, staying vertical only because we made a drunk wall and crying that we will miss each other because two weeks is far too long not to see anyone. AWESOME!!

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So be merry, be thankful, get excited, or don’t. We celebrate this time of year in different ways or not at all. We have different experiences, beliefs, feelings and opinions, and things can change as you get older. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change it, you may be older but you are also wiser and more experienced, take what you know and make this holiday what you want it to be. Whether you have positive or negative memories of Christmas, you have the power and ability to decide how your Christmas season will go. There will always be affecting factors, money/weather/health etc, but you have to battle through and strive for happiness as it doesn’t always come easy. So whatever you do this December 25th, just be happy and love those around who will love and cherish you in return.

Remember…. 6 days to go!!
THIS TIME NEXT WEEK!!!

Rolling my way onto the track

I thought hard about how to describe how I came to play roller derby and my background throughout. I wrote this and put it aside, and now I think screw it, I’ll put it up as it is!

Rewind back to 1994, 4 year old me. PapaCidal (lover of ice-hockey amongst other sports) thought it would be a fantastic idea to take me ice-skating – and so myself, Bear and BroCidal all learnt as children very quickly to be comfortable on skates. Growing up I had always enjoyed a healthy mixture of sport and performance, I started out in dance school (like every other 4 year old girl) then moved onto gymnastics which I was actually pretty good at! However it turned that I loved food too much to fit in with the ridiculously low weights they asked of you. So I stuck to figure skating, the performance and the pretty dresses were amazing – until I entered my teenage years. Now? It was uncool, and it was at this point I rebelled a little, MamaCidal and PapaCidal were very understanding and although a little gutted at me having my figure skates already, helped me move on. I really had such a love of being on skates at this point and so moved onto playing ice hockey with Nottingham Ladies. A team sport this time round, still on ice, and required a lot more kit! I met some fantastic ladies at this point in time, but after a while I didn’t feel as though my heart was really in it. Going to practice became a chore and my hip was not dealing well with it at this point. The excitement had worn off, and though it was a team sport and people were lovely, I never really felt like I connected with anyone.

—–Note: In 2006 I had an operation on my right hand hip muscle to shorten and put it all back in the right place. I will write on this at some point, it is always good to share recovery stories—–

So I gradually moved away from sport and chose to focus on my education and music instead. Moving on to 2008, I had finished 6th form and was off to university (yay me!) I had heard about roller derby and had enquired at a few places for more information, just for a fun originally. At the tender age of 18 (going on 19 and the release of Whip It rearing to go for 2009), I entered an emotional experience which both ruined yet made me at the same time, during which I spent much of my time in and out of Birmingham. I looked at the local Birmingham Blitz Dames who were a ridiculously awesome team, luckily I met T.Apple through an acquaintance – who had previously trained with the team. We spoke and she agreed to go back to derby and keep me company on my journey into the derbyverse. She was the girl that put my foot in the door (or my skates on the track) and I am sad to say that due to the circumstances surrounding my time in Birmingham, I no longer speak with. But T.Apple: Thank you. If it wasn’t for you, I probably never would have been brave enough to jump in. Also I would like to take a moment to show my love for the following ladies at Birmingham for teaching me most of what I know about derby and for being just damn fabulous:
Nico Warrior (Immediately helped me out and taught me along with Thump) – Thumpalina (Now CentralCity) – Violet Attack (A role model and general legend, inspired me to aim to be amazeballs) – Mimey Vice (even though you made me do pushups and planks… alot!) – Roison Roulette (The support to push me through the walls I kept hitting – blockers, physically and mentally!) – Kylie Volatile (taught me how to take a hit, by hitting me. Alot)

So I also got to spend some time honing my skills in my university town (Bedfordshire) which housed two local teams, after speaking with Caz she allowed me to come join in with the Bedfordshire Roller Girls and I learnt alot about my strengths and weaknesses in my brief time there. With university and my circumstances in Birmingham, I didn’t continue to go to practice when I should have done. I was a bit of an on-off starter. In 2011 I left Birmingham in my rear view mirror at great speed.

In early 2012 I met The Man who came out of no-where and just changed it all, he gave me something to really live for and enjoy. I finished my degree and moved back to the Cidal family home in Mansfield. I then moved in with The Man in Nottingham and we’re temporarily there until we finish our house in Mansfield. I told him about Derby and he talked me into going back to it. As I lived here I started looking at the local Nottingham teams, though as we looked to move to Mansfield I found out Mansfield had a fairly new roller derby team. So I got in touch with the head honcho (the rather kick ass Gore G’eous) to say I had bought a house and was moving back, a conversation later and I had learnt that I would be moving in just two doors down from this woman! Speaking with her really inspired my love for the sport again, and she allowed me to come along and train in general sessions with them. My first practice with them was a little scary to say the least. I was trying to find my feet and felt a little bambi-ish! I was definitely not in as good a shape as I used to be! But I was welcomed with open arms and cheeky grins on faces, I already knew Gore, but it turned out I had been friends with two other girls when I was younger! It seemed a mad blur of coincidences but it seemed like it had all fallen in to place. Next practice, I was back to the derby me, skating ability and all.

So with this new team and bunch of girls, I learnt to love derby all over again. It really fell into place. Since earlier this year, I have been attending all practices which are not affected by work committments, even though this has meant the half hour drive each way just to come practice whilst I finish mine and The Mans house in Mansfield. Meeting and becoming close to these girls has really helped in keeping me going, they give me confidence and love, and often bruises (though I prefer “Derby Kisses”). The rules and skills may have changed since I last played but I passed all skills straight away thanks to my history of skating and the rules test took time but I kept asking every practice to take it again and again until I did it. The Man has even been coming to Sunday practices to watch and help our NSO where he can, maybe he will become a wonderful Zebra one day – who knows?

I think I will add a page at some point detailing my teammates, these girls really have become my family in a ridiculously short period of time! With my Misfits, my family and my Man by my side, I feel invincible whatever gets thrown my way! Yes there are down days, but I have a support system there and someone who can always help out, or just give me a hug.

So as an individual and a team, we have similar goals. To better ourselves as skaters and how we work together as a team (Gotham’s hivemind…we will have you!), hopefully 2014 will see us bouting and getting out there, making more derby friends and building cross league relations. My goal? I want to increase my fitness and core strength. I want to hit 35 in 5! (Currently at 29 and a half in 5… and I don’t eat well – at all – or crosstrain – at all. May be optimistic but if I can improve my fitness, this seems like it may be reachable. Atleast it is a goal to really aim for!). Whilst I am happy with my skating ability and feel I am a strong skater thanks to my years of generally being on skates, inline/figure/hockey/quad or otherwise, I am a strong believer in the saying:

There is always room for improvement

There is always going to be something I want to be better at. I’d love to be a stronger more solid being and be able to push walls harder as a jammer. Because of my natural ability, speed and agility I feel more comfortable as a jammer, I’m constantly moving (unless I’ve been knocked on my butt) and thinking about how to get through the wall. I want to keep improving my skills as a jammer, but I want to be a triple threat skater. I want to be able to block more effectively, work better in walls, increase my confidence to pivot and be able to do so effectively. Part of me would also like to learn to ref – but sometimes I look at situations and feel as though I would rather go one on one with Beyonslay than have the pressure a zebra has!

So this seemed like a really long post to write, looking back it seems like a short story. I found roller derby, trained with some great teams, met some wonderful women and now couldn’t be happier!