There is probably a rule somewhere that if you write a Roller Derby blog you have to write one about your equipment so here is mine. But rather than just tell you what I use now thought I would start at the beginning.
After my very first week at Roller Derby using loan kit I was instantly bitten by the bug so rushed home to order the starter pack from everglides
. After deciding not to splash out the extra £30 for Torques, that the R3's were absolutely fine and that spending more than about £100 for skates was ridiculous I ordered those, the Anarchy knee and elbow pads and SFR wrist guards and the red helmet,red because every one else in the team had black so i though it would be a bit different.
After a month or two when I could stand upright and propel myself forwards without damaging my shoulder I wanted to be able to go round corners much faster. Decent Cross overs were still a little way off but I discovered a wonderful resource Rollersport.tv (Sadly no longer online) which had videos of a lot of American Bouts including some of the 2008 Regionals . Watching these I discovered that the top skaters would scissor their legs around the apex of the corners so quickly learnt how to do these and to bend my knees to get low which helped.
As my cross overs slowly improved and my Caymens got more and more bald it was finally time to upgrade so the order was placed with www.sincityskates.com/
for a set of Blue Radar Tuners and the cheapest outdoor wheels they had. For the next 6 months I did nothing but skate. Where I was working at the time had plenty of available tarmac around so most evenings would put the outdoor wheels on and then the tuners on for team practise. Looking back now, the cheap outdoor wheel probably helped my skating as much as the Tuners simply because they allowed me to skate more. With all this skating I was beginning to notice something, my left foot really hurt when i was skating. I stopped wearing a sock on my left foot and using a shoe horn to stretch the boot a bit but it was no good, time for new skates.
Thanks to Trish ,Ivanna and every one at sincityskates
I ordered the most beautiful pair of custom Riedell Wickeds in the world, they still are in my eyes. Very soon after buying my skates I was avidly reading Skatelog forum and there was some negative posts about SinCity and the advice they were giving. So stopped reading Skatelog forum.
I ordered the Wickeds with Atom D-Rods but decided to keep with my tuners as I was already used to them. It was then I upgraded my Knee pads to 187's Oh my - like falling on clouds loved 'em
Around this time I heard that one of our local leagues were being encouraged to skate without toe stops on so thought I'd give that a go, well why not. It was interesting I did learn about how weight distribution affects skating and it didn't have a negative effect on my skating but not sure it was positive either. After spending around 6 months toe stopperless and bouting at least once like that they went back on for the boot camp when Texas Hustlers came to play London Brawling. Now you would have to prize my toe stops from my cold dead hands.
At some point I decided to take off the Radar Tuners and try out the D-Rods I'd bought with my skates and WOW what a difference they made,overnight I went from one of the slowest on our team to one of the fastest, not THE fastest but certainly up there.
So going to harder wheels made me faster so maybe having even harder would make me would be even better. By now it was a lot easier to find stockists of wheel in the U.K easier so ordered 4 G-Rods and 4 Atom Strokers from billys
and a new Bell Faction helmet from so other company I can't remember which.
Still mainly playing blocker I was able to use the hard wheels to develop a controlled slide to cross the track laterally fast for both big hits and positional blocking.
2011 was a year of big changes. My original plates that came with my skates were starting to get a bit knackered. Mainly because i didn't change the pivot cups when they were worn out and the Holes started to enlarge and despite my best attempts to squirt Silicone sealant into them I decided it was time for an upgrade. I bought a set of Roll Line Mariner Cup plates , these cost me more than my Original Riedell R3s, ridiculous i know. I read up a bit on short forward plates, decided to buy ones a size down from the actual recommended size.Mounted them myself by matching up the front holes from my old plates and then drilling holes in the back where they needed to be, simple really.
After a bit of tweaking I was able to tell the difference, they allowed me to skate laterally in one direction then immediately to cut back without that 'bogging down' feeling I was getting. These plates can be ordered with the Roll Line Hockey Toe stops which are HUGE and Amazing. i love them. Not only would you have to prize these out of my cold dead hands you'd have to kill me first.
The only reservation I have with these plates is the 'click action' system which is their advantage over the Variant - M. I don't think its worth it. my advice would be to go for either the Variant - M or spend more on a higher model.
During 2011 we changed our practise venues. One of these is now our bouting venue. The floor here can be interesting sometimes it can be absolutely lovely other times like an ice rink. Rollerbones of Bones Reds Bearing fame launched some new wheels, they did make a really grippy set but I decided to plump for the Kois at 92A from amazingskates
I like them so much I've hardly taken them off simply because they are suitable at our other venues as well and mostly ok at our bout venue.
As I've played for longer my skating has changed, the game has changed and developed. One thing that I decided early on is to play Jammer as much as possible. Although primarily a blocker jamming has pushed me to up my fitness and agility and try to understand what is going through the jammers minds so i can try and anticipate what they are likely to do and if possible get the jammers to do what I want them to do.
So with this change in the game, my change of skating and the random element to our floor I recently decided to buy a set of poison slims. At the moment they remind me of my Radar Tuners. They are making me work my legs a lot more, they are forcing me to drive through my hits more and at the moment my top speed has come down. I'm hoping with time the extra effort required will develop into an explosive Punch to hit jammers with and to accelerate away from the pack when jamming.
I'm now onto my second set of 187 knee pads, my Original Anarchy elbow pads have been retired and replaced with 187 elbow pads both from amazing skates, needed a mouth guard in a rush so bought a protec-Dent from Kitty Fangtastic just before a practise and discovered I have the smallest mouth in Roller Derby.
Other wheels have been bought or borrowed tried and discarded, skated on several different bearings but can't really tell the difference.
So what have i learnt in the 3 Years of playing roller derby about equipment. It doesn't matter what kit you have it won't make you a better skater, skating will. Different equipment suits different people, don't make judgments about people because of the kit they use, they may be able to kick your ass with whatever skates they wear. just like Roller Derby the kit we use is a journey, go with it and enjoy it.