This is Roller Derby

At the very crack of dawn on Sunday morning I am up and cycling to town, I see no one, arriving at Peterborough train station I don’t have to queue to get a ticket or fight for a seat, it’s starting to feel a little post apocalyptic, but no, this is the start of my first day of roller derby training.

 

My new years resolution this year was to try new sports activities, things I have always wanted to try, however the main reason I haven’t done this before is that Peterborough just doesn’t have a wide range of alternative exercise options, it’s great for rowing and running and cycling and has all the normal clubs rugby, football etc. but when it comes to something just a little bit different, nothing.

 

So to try roller derby, I must travel, the nearest club to me is in Cambridge* and I managed to get a ticket for their fresh meat course (this is the roller derby term for beginners) despite, as I understand it an unprecedented demand for tickets.

 

So here I am on a two-hour train ride to Cambridge via Hitchin, a trip which takes 30mins by car and 45 by direct train, however apparently no one wants to go to Cambridge before 1pm on a Sunday so Hitchin it is.

 

I did wonder if perhaps Hitchin have a roller derby team but the husband informs me it is quite small and so all ten people who live there would need to play and thus quite unlikely.

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However as I struggle around in the dark for the plus points of this situation I reflect that I can at least blog about my experiences, catch up on my reading and on an apparently empty train and perhaps do an early morning core session, living the dream and planking between the luggage racks.

 

Before I get to the bit on skates let’s talk a little more about kit, roller derby requires quite a bit of kit and I have Double Threat Skates to thank for getting me kitted up.

 

Naturally the first thing you need is skates, I spent a good deal of my childhood and teenage years on skates but the little I remember about buying skates is quite useless for roller derby, I remember buying skates a size larger than your shoes (I guess this might just have been mum aiming for maximum value) however for roller derby your skates need to be super snug, not cut your circulation off snug but damn pretty close, to ensure your skates are snug rather than just too small you need to stand for a few minutes in them and see if you can still feel your feet, this is enormous fun when you haven’t been on skates for years in the middle of a room full of pros, however I discovered a trick, using a skate tool you can adjust your wheels so they don’t move, ha! Once you have found the right level of snugness, enough to ensure your feet don’t move around when you skate you are ready for pads…

 

One other thing I should say, skates make your feet look really small, tiny even, you want small (looking) feet wear skate! They also make you almost a foot taller, this is obvious but I forgot and I love being taller without the heels bit. Bonus.

 

Padding; Again very different from my early skating years when my mum would tape nappies to the bits I may fall on, it’s all quite high-tech in comparison. You need wrist, elbow and knee pads, wrist supports will stop you braking your wrist if you fall, but if you fall badly you will just break your arm a little higher up, I am told, you can’t say they aren’t honest.

 

Also you know shoes before corset? (when costuming put your shoes on before you lace up your corset or you will struggle to get them on without help) well skates before wrist pads; wrist pads make your hands nearly useless so they go on last and come off first, only when I said “oh like shoes before corset” I just got a funny look…

 

Knees: I went for the biggest knee pads I could scrimmage, I like my knees and apparently I’m going to fall on them a lot, there are a lot of straps involved in my knee pads, four? And they all need to be tight enough that you can’t just pull the pads off, my shins need to fend for themselves no stealing the knee pads!

 

Elbow pads: the knee and elbow pads keep your arms in a bent position, it’s very odd but I’m sure it works out once you are skating…

 

Apparently I have quite small arms, as I had to go down a size from the first pads I tried on, gutted is not the word, all that work and my gun show is disappointing at best, size SMALL 😦 sigh.

 

One more thing about pads, they have a left and right: I foresee this being one of the most challenging aspects of the sport for me…

 

Helmet! Skid lid, this is much more hardcore then my cycle helmet which can only take one crack before it needs replacing, this helmet can be dropped multiple times an take up to three proper crashes before I needs replacing, lets hope the same can be said about me, I restrained myself when it came to colour going for shiny black rather than sliver glitter-ball, no need to make any more of a fool of myself than necessary. Perhaps if I make it to being good…

 

I have also brought a mouth guard, I’m not sure that I will need it for the non contact bits but, hey ho, you get to chose a colour, I went for red, grrraahhh! I am warned they are a pain in the arse to shape, oh SUCH fun awaits!

 

Wheels: you can buy different wheels for different surfaces, one thing I remember from my former roller skating days is being told we can not skate outside then skate on our community centre wood floor as it will ruin it, skating little stones into it, apparently a lot of venues dislike people skating as they worry about the floor, however roller skate are not any more damaging then any other indoor gym activity. That’s all good and well but if I’m going to get any practice in during the week I’m going to have to face up the fact this will have to be done outside, as I don’t have access to any suitable indoor spaces near my house, but I am surrounded by parks with paths, the main reason I need to change my wheels for this is to make it a nicer ride, outdoor wheels are softer and make the going less bumpy. To change my wheels I need a skate tool, this is the rigger jigger/ multi tool of the skate world, gosh I do love new tools, anyways…

 

Carrying all this kit even a short distance I am struck by the weight of it all, it’s going to be quite hard work just to move in it. Once I have it all on (not correctly to start with I had to stop and swap my wrist guards which I swore I had on currently dispute the fact they are marked with left and right and these markings did not correspond to my hands) the moment of truth came, I had to get up and skate, ideally without immediately falling over, that was quite scary it has been a good ten years since I last did this, however I did quite well, going round in little circles trying to improve my technique, pushing out to the sides not back (ten and two) bending my legs so if I fell it would be towards onto the pads.

 

Naturally sooner or later I was going to fall over, I did so twice, once for no good reason, straight onto my arse, oh my poor coccyx, the second time, in front of everyone while trying to purposely fall forward on both knees, I again for no good reason feel back again but this time I took on board the advice from the last fall and choose an acre cheek to landed on, less painful, but not really what I was meant to be doing.

 

We had a go a few different skills, gliding on one leg, falling on to our knees that sort of thing, I wasn’t the best, but I wasn’t the worst, it was hard work and after two hours I had a proper bead on (I was sweaty) but I loved it, I literally crawled back home, stopping only to stuff my face, I arrived home, had a bath, made a lot of pained noises then went to bed at 3:30 in the afternoon. However when I woke up and hour or so later the husband had cooked tea so I might try that trick again!

 

I have spent the rest of the week paying for falling on my arse, I’m sure It didn’t used to take this long to recover from falling on my arse…it has much more crumble zone now, but it is higher off the ground… however nothing will stop me from returning next week, I literally can’t wait ( My tailbone would like to point out that it can and will wait.)

 

* turns out Borderline Brawlers are based just down the rod from me in Stamford, but no matter, its not like it’s a two hour trip to Cambridge on a Sunday morning…

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It never gets easier, you just go faster.

It never gets easier, you just go faster. – Greg LeMond

Day 30, I made it, in one piece, even if that piece is a little bruised, scratched and stuck back together, this isn’t really cyclings fault, I wasn’t built to be a Concours model, or I would have had some inbuilt spacial awareness and balance.

Today involved the normal cycle to the train station, Cambridge again, 4 and a bit hours of laser-cutting later and its back to the boro and over to the cottage to complete a funding app, over a beer, as is becoming the tradition, then off again to the rowing club to drink tea and hunt round for the thing that’s making the club house smell so nasty, before home, which on reflection smells quite fresh, even if it does resemble a stage from a production of lord of the flies.

I have been trying to work out if I should carry on this blog after today, not everyday, that’s mad, just when I have something intresting to say relating to Cycling. I continued to debate this into the 1st of May, until a reserved an email offering me an exciting cycling related opportunity, so that’s it, the blog carrys on

365 day cycling pledge? Bit much? Ok fine…

 

 

 

 

To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain

To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain….at cycling’s core lies painScott Martin

Day 29, which also happens to be a Monday, new week and meetings about new projects

Last night him-indoors and I watched a film called Premium Rush, unlike some of the other cycling themed films we have watched this was quite a high budget affair

‘In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city”

Or so it said on the tin, Its really quite good…

The main character’s bike is quite a lot like Frank-n-fixie

“I like to ride. Fixed gear. No brakes. Can’t stop. Don’t want to, either”

Its all about the speed, the risk, the skill and you would have to be completely mad, but it makes you want to ride…fast

Its a good film, I dont think I’ll convert to “runnin’ reds and killin’ peds” thou

But

This morning I found myself very late for my train, so on heading off I said to Frank, I need to be at the train station, yesterday, lets go! and off we sped

I like to ride, fixed gear, some brakes, could stop, but it would take me ages to get going again…so ideally I don’t want to

I made the train, out of breath and really for anything…which I needed to be

My day didn’t get any less rushed and it had lost of weird planned for me

I spend the morning sitting in a heritage meeting for someone else, in a theatre, while all around me the Rocky Horror show was being set up

I may just be a sweet transvestite…but I’m one who knows how to compete the correct permission forms for oral history interviews…

So after a super quick snack-lunch I’m off to a swimming pool, representing a football club, to talk about cycling, confused!

The meeting was all bout the Tour de France coming to Cambridge in 2014 and I’m already excited and so pleased to be involved, It was also a great opportunity to meet Representatives from the many different cycling clubs across Cambridge and to find out more about cycling events both locally and nationally.

I wore suitable socks…

Thanks to a canceled train I was super late coming back to Peterborough and thus my Monday night circuits class, which I am very much in need of participating in, the result of which was:

A, I had to get changed into my gym kit in a stinky train loo…again…Superman has to change in public loos less than me

B, I had to run off the train, jump on frank, instruct him I need to be at the gym, like yesterday, pedal like mad, before storming into the class, knackered, which I managed in 8 minutes, which is quite good, when you factor in locking and unlocking Frank and looking for my trainers…

Fast-ish and getting faster

Gosh today is going to hurt tomorrow…Hello pain, my old friend

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Wisely, and slow. They stumble that cycle fast.

Its Sunday, and all rowing and coxing has been forsaken for a bike ride.

A motley crew of cyclists meet at the rowing club, five girls (Me, Ella, Annabell, Charlotte and Anna, who is late as normal even thou she lives closest) plus Captain America, who is a boy, so he can’t join in, but he does escort us to the ride, demonstrating all the proper cycling signals en-route, but it’s quite hard to focus on these important facts when he’s dressed as a cycling superhero.

Charlotte takes great pride in beating us the start, it becomes quite clear quite early on ( i.e. before we even start) that we are not really the target auidence for this ride, which is aimed at beginners

The guide was very keen to help but insistent she needed to be in front the whole time and so the pace was a little slower than we are used to

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Here we are cycling past the rowing lake, we are all following the leader, as NO overtaking was allowed

Plus lots of stopping for comfort breaks, going through brakes, discussing routes, crossing roads…

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We never did over taken the jogger on the left, poor chap

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I tried to take a few pictures en-route, until I nearly crashed into Ella…

We made up a few games to keep it interesting… slow games, under ten miles per hour games

Lowest gear racing was quite good fun, as was Flintstones racing, think how Fred and Barney power their cars…

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Despite it being a little on the slow side we had fun, it was quite of like a long chat on wheels, oh the random topics we discussed…

There are already plans afoot for more rides

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Ella put some slap on “in case I took pictures for my blog” looking sexy Ella 😉

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But not quite as sexy as me, with my central hair curl!?

The real reason we all went was Ella’s flapjack

MMMMMHHHH Flapjack, Ella’s a great cook

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And of course some tea was in order

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Looks like Charlotte’s already coming up with a cunning plan for more cycling madness, Yikes!

Or perhaps that’s just her flapjack face…

But why is the rum gone?

Picture this

My alarm goes off

Bleep, Bleep, Bleep, Bleep…

Getting up is going to require commitment, so lets go in strong, rah, yeh! lets do this…

I swing my leg out of bed, biff! toes hits wardrobe, Hard

Ouch! Thump, I have now fallen out of bed, clutching my toe

The husband sits up, looks at me waling on the floor and says, “I’ll go switch the alarm off”

My poor toe is bloody and hurts a lot, walking is near impossible so rowing is out, oh bugger this is going to make me look soooo bad, soooo lightweight.

After some time the toe stops bleeding and I start to limp around. I both brake and fix myself I lot, so I don’t normally need a doctor to tell me if somethings broken, I know what I have broken feels like, the toes not broken, just bloody and bruised and the nails busted up quite badly, but that’s just a super glue and nail varnish job, no problem.

Well toe, I’m going to give you 24 hours to fix or I shall cut you off old school Tour de France style* as I want to go cycling tomorrow.

And then there’s Frank, he’s still in town, I spend the morning being good and resting, then by lunch time I very slowing force my toe into socks and boots and limp the three miles to town, I’m dressed like….  well I’m not sure what you call this look, sports leggings with those go faster stripes, a new Romantic /pirate shirt and a classic 1970’s men’s jumper with a hat with animal ears.

Who cares, this is Peterborough and town is filled with POSH fans heading to the football in animal onesies. Why? Isn’t your mascot a bloke in a top hat and tails ringing a bell? Why not put your wedding suits on? Middle aged balding football fans in onesies, eeh God.

Frankie’s not been stolen (I know, I was shocked too…) and I try cycling home, on wheels, is better than on feet or toe, so that’s good news.

I spend the afternoon trying to over look the smell of gone off eggs and get on with this blogging business, while him-indoors makes scale models of Peterborough, as you do.

I try to be good and rest to that means no cleaning or tidying right? being about to find stuff is so overrated.

* see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Vietto for more toe chopping madness

 

Cycling away to join the circus ( I heard they have cake)

Reader, The day started badly, him-indoors is very stressed 
about his MA work and I can't really help him, which makes 
me stressed. The house looks like someone has turned upside
down and given it a good shake, my fat upper arms dont fit 
in my blouse and I'm not ready... For any part of the next
three days.

So I'm up at the crack* upsetting the neighbours with my sewing 
machines, trying frantically to get ready for my printing session 
later, while thinking on how to get my new bike to the repair 
shop at the same time.It's not broken, the gears just need a 
professional touch and I really want it ready to ride it on Sunday.  

Of course super-mum comes to the rescue as per, helping me get Jake 
to the bike shop and then making sure I'm at the Uni in time for my 
printing slot. Mums rock, she even brought him-indoors pork pies, 
which means I can tick off "feed husband" from my weekly list of 
jobs.

I arrive super-stressed, but as soon as the smell of the print room 
hits me I'm as calm as can be, and after a few small battles with 
the laser printer my days starts to reflect my new found mood. 
Who needs Prozac when you have ink and rollers, oh baby...

By the time I've had a bit of fun with lasers and a very productive 
snow queen** project meeting. I'm in an amazing mood and the 
sunshine after the mornings hail reflects this improvement suitably 

Returning to the boro by train with a small brown leather suitcase 
off of the 40's*** full of samples and an over-sized portfolio of 
card I am looking forward to joint birthday meal with Cuddles 
(that's a person not a activity) dispute the total lack of an 
opportunity to change or draw on my face.

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I haven't really had a proper cycle today, just getting Jake to 
the car, but it's starting to look like that's about all I'll 
fit in.

So to the meal I go, it's a great evening, I spend a lot of time 
banging on about how I have to be at the rowing club at 8:30 in 
the morning while  simultaneously descending into an ever growing 
cloud of rum.

Here's a bad idea, take a group of rowers, add lashings of rum, 
what do you have? Pirates, lots of them, with no captain.

The plan was to walk home, him-indoors brought frank, so we could 
try a beer-backie, but that's not going to end well, I think I might 
have missed the boat somewhat on backies****, in the end Chris takes 
pity on us and drops us home, leaving poor frank alone in town, so 
that's tomorrow's rescue mission planned then, free the fixie-one

Is it just me or is the floor moving (holds on the the edge of the 
bed) damn fenland earthquakes 

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*when the day cracks, it is now dawn, not to be mistaken for the 
cracken, which is very bad news for water dwellers or shot drinkers 
as it turns out (burp)

** a project for The Scott Polar Museum in Cambridge, yes my job 
rocks, i know right? 

*** which always makes me want to run away and join the circus or 
something equally reckless  

**** a short history of backies and me: I didn't know what one was 
till i met my husband, a couple of times when we have been short 
on bike and long on tired legs we have tried this, but  I scream 
the whole time, which might explain why him-indoors is so deaf, 
ANYWAY i think the reason this gives me the fear is because you 
have to learn to do it while you are still a teenage and thus 
immortal, and why did i not do this as a teen, growing up in 
Cambridge aka the land of the bike? well Where i grew up every 
child had their own bike, so there was no need for such things. 
Silly!

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You can’t look where your going if you don’t know where your going

Wednesday

 
It is no longer my birthday, I am now older and all my presents 
are open, boo

 
The husband is up north ensuring the wall keeps the wildlings 
and white walkers out, so I have the house to myself and a 
studio day is the plan of action

 
Some nasty admin tasks do not help to lift my mood and as I 
have a rather special dress to get ready for a fitting this 
evening I decide drastic action is in order
 
Cola (with a slice of lemon and even more importantly a straw) 
chocolate buttons and the labyrinth DVD on the imac...
mmmh that's better

 
While sewing and watching I reflect on how the film never fails 
to lift my mood and start planning my autobiography, told through
the structure of the film*

 
Anyhow...

 
Dress done, I head of on frank to my evening fittings which 
include opening another card and present ( I'm a very lucky girl) 
before heading back to the rowing club to admire Ella's newly 
uncast leg and talk about the cycle ride she has roped me into 
on Sunday, well when I say "roped" what i mean is I bit her hand off.

It's quite hard to find girls to cycle with, you see, 
they keep breaking
 
Ella is perhaps the only person I know who comes close to being as 
accident prone as me...only I fall and bounce she falls and shatters, 
however, having raced in a four with her I can also confirm she is 
one of the most competitive people I know which should make this 
interesting...dont you think Ella? ;) 

* i know every word of this film by heart, and have on many 
occasions recited some or all of it, as a one women impromptu 
show and sometimes with other wakkos, am happy to do so on 
request, but trust me, its a very weird thing to witness