Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bringing The Movie To Life: Derby Dreams - Part 2

Naturally, my new hobby comes at a price. First off, the roller derby league highly recommends participating in their skills nights. Fine, that makes sense. I don't really know what I'm doing and could definitely use some pre-tryout training. But, of course, these sessions aren't free. On top of that, I actually have to purchase a pair of skates. I did some thorough research - Googled "roller derby skates" - and checked out the top hit's bestseller list. Of course, the skate at the top spot was the cheapest. I didn't want to go for the bottom of the barrel but didn't want to start spending hundreds of dollars on quads when there's a possibility I might not even make it past tryout day. After much deliberation, I ended up purchasing the moderately priced Riedell R3 Tuners.

My next derby venture was going to require some cash as well. I didn't want to walk into the first of four skills nights without any experience. The league's website suggests training with a local instructor. Fine, but I’m not embarrassing myself in any class. I inquired about arranging a private lesson and after some brief correspondence was all set to meet with the trainer later that week.

On the day of the lesson, I skeptically went to the park and looked around for the instructor. He was hard to miss. Not only was the park practically empty but it was easy to liken the guy sweeping away the foliage to the one I saw on his website. Judgment aside, I introduced myself, slipped on my skates and got rolling, literally. I couldn't stand still without rolling and my instinct to press down on a heel break while rollerblading only landed me on my ass. Thankfully, it didn't take long to get my bearings and successfully skate in a small circle a few times. Skating with some speed for the first time is a thrill, but that thrill comes to a crashing halt (pun intended) when you realize you don't know how to stop. I wouldn't dare pretend to have a heel break again so opted to hurl myself into the nearest bench. My instructor came to my rescue and introduced me to the T-stop. He would have come across as more of a knight in shining armor if I was actually able to execute this mythical T-stop. The damn move was nearly impossible. It took the majority of the lesson to be able to drag my right foot behind the left with pressure primarily on the "B-wheel" - or whatever that means – to successfully grind to a halt.

Once stopping was out of the way, or at least brushed under the rug for the time being, we worked on stride form: skating on one foot and leaning into turns. By the end of the hour-long session, breaking aside, I had come to the conclusion that I was pretty good. After just an hour I felt pretty comfortable on the quads and couldn't wait to practice on my own.

With my newfound confidence I went home and did some laps around my driveway. Skating at home was fun, but it'd be impossible to get in viable practice unless I found a local indoor rink. Not only did the asphalt completely chew up my indoor wheels but Charlie, my corgi, had a blast nipping at my pants and watching me fall.

That Monday I ventured out to a local rink for an opening skating session. To my relief, I was the only skater. I hopped onto the freshly waxed floor with nobody to worry about hurting except myself. I had the whole place to myself and a private DJ playing the latest hits; I was pumped. I zipped around the oval without a care in the world. I was fast and get this, I could stop! Turns out that whole T-Stop thing feels much more natural on the floor as opposed to gritty tarmac. I did crossovers, skated on one foot and even turned myself around to try some backwards skating. Well, it was more like very slow gliding, but I was certainly doing it backwards! After about an hour I walked out, spirits high and looking forward to the first skills night at the end of the week.

More to come soon!
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