I am supposed to be writing a serious discussion of skate maintenance for my league's soon to be released blog. It will be brilliant. Or at least informative. Or at least readable in a way that doesn't make people vomit into their gear bags.
My goals, as the person chosen because of a random team building exercise confession concurrently happening with an internet make over coupled with my inability to resist spreading myself too thin, are simple. I would like our league's blog to be positive, technically informative, helpful, and serious.
Oops, just tripped myself on the last one.
I'm not a terribly serious person. Okay, actually, I am, but I still joke a lot and see whether or not I come off as funny or annoying to other people is merely splitting hairs because I think I'm funny as hell. I can't help but make the little wise cracks and asides. I even joke while playing and am immensely proud of the fact that despite my relative lack of ass kicking in my first bout ever, I did manage to make the whole pack laugh at one point during a jam.
But, I have this vague idea that not everyone thinks I'm as hilarious as I find myself. It's the all too frequent blank stare I get when I slip a little irony into a conversation, or the pause before the polite little titter that gives this slightly discordant feeling like I'm a bit of an asshole sometimes.
I can live with that.
However, having been honoured with the task of organizing the league's blog, I would like to do a Good Job and not make the rest of my league look like assholes by writing like one. You know, like I do here.
For the league blog, then, no jokes. Or not a lot of jokes. No alots anyway. (That was a joke. See what I mean?) And, for fuck sake, I really shouldn't be talking about how I zone out during pace lines or my humorous appreciation of the fine agony of giner shiners (when they happen to other people anyway).
At least, I'm going to try to avoid admitting what idiot I can be at this whole derby thing.
These are my rules.
So, the first post is some information on skate maintenance. Properly caring for your second most important piece of equipment (the most important is either your head or your ass, depending on which one works better on the track or both if they happen to be in close proximity) is extremely important. Especially since playing derby can run up your credit card mighty high, most of us at some point develop a boot or wheel fetish, and there is no sense in throwing away your money having to replace what could easily be still working well with only a little bit of effort.
This is me reasonably understanding what should be done.
Sadly, despite my almost supernatural powers of cognitive reasoning, I am not a shining example of skate maintenance. Viewed from the outside, one might surmise that I actually hate my skates and am attempting, through neglect, to do away with them.
At one point a month or so ago I thought that my basic skills were being sucked into a vortex created as penance for not working out enough. I lost the ability to do a knee drop. Rather, I lost the ability to get back up after the drop. Which was a bummer since I had worked so hard at dropping and touching one knee to the ground and pushing myself back up without stopping, having to retrain myself after initially being taught to drop, stop, and wait for applause. I'd be doing a little warm up practice with my new league, trying to show that I belonged with the big girls and please don't send me back to fresh meat practice and suddenly I'd be skidding around on the floor, completely defeated by a knee drop.
Then my plows started to be less plow and more double wide trailer. When I'd try to push someone my legs would shoot out sideways. Eventually, I could barely cross over without almost falling over on my hip. Sssshhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiittttttttttttttttttttttttt was the sound my accomplishments rapidly being drained from my body and sucked down a black hole of gym slackers. My skills were leaving me! I was convinced that it was because I ate too many cookies and didn't take up running like I said I would. Same reason why I got zits in high school.
Turns out, after being clued in one evening when I tried to t-stop and my wheels were hopping around like a frog on a hot plate, that something wasn't quite right with my trucks. Not right as in the damn things had just about unscrewed themselves loose from my skate and were threatening to leave me entirely if I didn't start paying a little attention to them.
A few moments with a handy dandy screw driver and suddenly my skills were spit right back out of the vortex and hip hip hooray, I can skate again!
Wow. What a relief to know that it wasn't my lazy not-working-hard-enough ass to blame, it was my lazy not-treating-my-skates-right ass that was a problem.
Should of learned something from that experience, yes?
Well, obviously if I did, there wouldn't be more to read here, so let's go on with the tale my shameful lack of skate care.
My wheels have been squeaking and grinding a bit for, oh, a month. Or two. Awhile. At first I thought the problem might go away if I just ignored it (I tried this tactic with both automotive oil changes and pregnancies with little success - I think we've established that I am a slow learner), but eventually the noise was getting alarming enough that it began to seep into my consciousness that I should probably do something about it. The point where I could not longer put it off came when Gunpowder Gertie, a wise and most excellent skater, mentioned that because of my grody bearings I was working much harder than her just to skate. I seriously did not need that, having enough mountains to climb without throwing in badly functioning skates. Why make this harder on myself?
Thus, I did, finally, clean my bearings and wheels, checked out my bushings (yes, they exist!) and so forth, and though they still don't sound like well oiled machine (despite the speed cream) I will know for sure if they truly roll easier at my next practice. I had them out right after I cleaned them for a scrimmage up at Oil City, but I was way too busy getting my ass handed to me to notice how well my bearings were doing.
The whole point of these abysmal stories is that I am terribly concerned that my shoddy example will somehow reflect badly upon my league mates, and that I need to somehow step two steps back from myself in order to do a Good Job. Put on my reporter's helmet cover, so to speak (it will have holders for a notepad, pencil and mickey of gin), and pretend that I actually know stuff about stuff.
Of course, my megaflaw, honesty, will probably rear its ugly head and I will have to confess my shame. Do you think the Do As I Say Not As I Do argument will hold water here? I hope that my own dirty example won't be generalized amongst my league and smear their reputations. People all over the derbyverse will be all, "Oh, Red Deer, they don't take care of their skates!"
"Oh! My! God!"
Or maybe I overestimate my own importance. (Of course I do, I blog, don't I?)
Thank you all for staying with me through this long post of self doubt and sad stories of skatey lameness. Next post I will hopefully be a little less mentally debilitated. Perhaps we'll get lucky and someone will hurt themselves in a highly amusing way. Here's hoping!
(That was a joke too. Nobody gets me!)