Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reckless Wheels, Leppard Lady custom toe guards, knee gaskets, Triple 8 Red wristguards,

Long time no blog!

Time to play catch up. First of all, in an attempt to convert to short wheels I once again bought some Jukes. Since I liked skating on all 88A Stingers, I figured I'd get the same durometer in the Jukes. Same brand, right? Not so much.
I ate much shit on the 88A Jukes. I felt like I was wearing 93s, not 88s. I finally put some Venom pushers (the Juke version of Poisons) on and that was much better, but I still wanted to play around with the short stuff.
I borrowed some Reckless wheels from Cruz Skate Shop in all 88As (yellow). They were much grippier than the Jukes and felt much lighter. These are the same price as Jukes and come in the same range of durometers, but run a little grippier of the 88A Juke isn't soft enough or you want to reduce some weight.
I'm still loving the crap out of my Bont boots, but I couldn't really find a toe cover that fit. The toe caps got all bunched up around the laces and the leather strips didn't match up with the eyelets on the Bonts. I finally had Shadow Soldier from Leppard Lady Fashions make she some custom ones. She makes toe caps for hard to fit skates (like ones with lace covers) and was more than happy to make some for me. She took soft leather and molded it to my skates, then took them back to her shop and finished them up. My new toe guards are much thicker than any I've been able to buy (and thus had to frequently replace) and look like they are a part of my skates. She has a bunch of fun customization options as well, if you want to get all fancy-like. She also makes custom belts, beer holsters (!!!), and other fun stuff. I try to support derby-owned businesses as much as possible, and her stuff is very high quality.
After bruising the crap out of my knee, I decided to revisit the land of knee gaskets. First I got some 187 knee gaskets. I liked how they were a bit more flexible in the back than most, and very breathable. Probably the most comfortable knee gasket I've ever worn. However, the Smith Scabs knee gaskets had more padding, so I got some of those shortly after. They definitely gave more support and padding, but they ripped after about 4 wearings :(. I'm still using them for the padding, but am a bit bummed that the quality isn't what I had hoped for. If you are looking for preventative padding, or if you can't wear most knee gaskets, I'd say the 187s are awesome. If you already have a bum knee, I'd get something thicker, but save your receipt if you get the Scabs.....
Lastly, I've had that sucky, bruised palm bullshit one to many times from falling on my wrist guards. When 187 came out with a specialized wrist guard for derby (in my team colors, no less), I was all for it. These wrist guards look a lot like (and may even be modeled after) the expensive as shit Pro Design wrist guards. The plastic wrist piece is thicker and broader at the palm than most and feels really comfy.  I have yet to bruise my palm or hyper extend my thumb with these babies on, and they look sick.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Update on skates, Rollerbones wheels

The new skates are still awesome, with the exception of the Bont boot's annoying tendency to not stay tightly laced. A few other people who have Bont boots on my league have had the same problem. Fewer eyelets than the Riedell boots, maybe? I should look, but it doesn't really matter at this point. I switched to waxed hockey laces and toe caps instead of my pretty, customized strap covers (the long flat ones most people use). It's helped a lot, but I still have to re-tighten once or twice a practice. The overall comfort and lightness is worth it though.
Still loving my plates, finally found the sweet spot on my trucks with the softer cushions. The Roll Line Toestops have been great for my jamming, I could walk miles on those things.

Got some Rollerbones wheels in 86A. Since I've been rolling on wide 88As I wanted to go a little softer to compensate for the smaller surface area. They are slightly cheaper than Atom wheels (about $20 cheaper for a set of 8) and come in 96A, 92A, 86A, and 80A. I was a bit skeptical when I handled them- no stinky urethane smell and they felt kinda hard. They sure as hell grip though. I was able to grip all the way around our slick-ass bumpy track without sliding and without feeling like I was skating through mud. I wasn't expecting that from a narrower wheel, but these aren't quite as narrow as most, so it was a good compromise. I'll see how well they wear, but so far I'm a fan. It's nice that these come in several durometers too, so peeps can customize their set up. 92A with 86A pushers or all 92A would be great for most surfaces.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bont hybrids, Sure Grip Avenger plates, Roll Line toestops

So I've had a few adventures in obtaining my new skates. First, there was a delay in processing my custom Bont boots because the tracings "didn't look right" (which wasn't communicated to my skate shop until they called to get a status check). Uh, isn't having weird shaped feet why people get custom boots? You'd think they'd be used to that by now. But I got them in about 2 months and they were super light, perfectly formed to my feet, and amazingly comfortable. I heat molded them in the oven twice (175 degrees, 20 min, strapped them on and got into a skating stance until they cooled) and they were golden. IMPORTANT: if you get custom Bonts made from a tracing of your foot you will need to go down a plate size. You're actual foot is always smaller than a stock boot. One of my buddies learned this the hard way and had to sell her old skates to finance new plates.
My only grip with the Bont boots is the stock laces. They will not stay tight. I need to go get some waxed hockey laces.

And now for the plates. As with most brand new products, they never come out when they say they will. I got mine in November after ordering my boots (and pre-ordering the plates) in July. I get it, but it's still annoying. What was REALLY annoying was getting the plates home, going to change the toestops and the plate cracking. REALLY annoying. I had to send them back and wait another week for new ones. Not cool, Sure Grip.

But I have to say, I love this set up. My feet don't hurt, my skates are freakishly light, and the plates are just as responsive as my beloved XK4s, only without the weight. I went with a soft/med combo bushing set up since I've been gradually loosening my trucks and had to tighten them to compensate for the extra squish. They are super bouncy, I love it! I also changed my toestops to the standard thread Roll Line. It took some getting used to the size and grip (had to play around with the position some), but being able to stick a turn stop at high speeds without eating shit and getting stitches in my lip was totally worth the $40.

I'll keep you posted ....

Monday, November 14, 2011

On the Run insoles, McDavid Derby shorts

So as much as I love my Shock Doctor Hockey insoles, I needed more support for my flat-ass feet. I went to a store in the Sunset called On the Run and a dude named William spent over an hour watching me walk around the store in various insoles until we found one that corrected my overpronation. I was skeptical about wearing them while skating (I've never been able to wear "real" orthotics in my skates without extreme cramping) but I figured I could wear them in my shoes if they didn't work out. I went ahead and paid the $60 and took them home.
The next day I had an outdoor bout, and I threw my new insoles in my skates just for shits and giggles. No cramping. Seriously.
I have had a few cramps since, mostly during weird stompy, agility drills, but only twice in the month that I've had them, and only in the beginning. I'm guessing that once I get them into my new custom Bonts (squeeee!!!!) I'll be in footsie heaven. Just waiting for those skates....
Anyway. They have three walls of different insoles and lots of footwear nerds who would love to help fix your feet. It's pricey, but if you have serious foot problems and the cheap ones aren't working, I'd give them a try.

As for the shorts. Skating for the highest ranked league in California is hard on the ass. And hips. And everything else. After a few hitting drills that left me with aching hips everytime I coughed (I wish I was kidding, but I'm so not), I decided to invest in some padded shorts. I'm a size 10, so I ordered a size large (says size 10-12). They run SNUG, but they are high waisted so it kinda doubled as a tummy slimmer. They were sleek and short enough to fit under my existing shorts (not the Lift and Separate, don't think that would work) , although you can definitely make out the hex pattern underneath. It's worth keeping my hips intact, although peeling those off my sweaty ass cheeks on bout day will be challenging. When I have more money, I'll prolly get another pair in a bigger size, or just go on a diet .

In happy news, my Sure Grip Avenger plates are in, just dropped my new custom Bonts off at Cruz to get mounted. My new skates should be born any day now!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

BADG surfaces, Gumball Toestops, Bont hybrid boots and the SOne Lifer Helmet

So since my last post, I have transferred to the Bay Area Derby Girls and morphed into an Oakland Outlaw. As much as I love my new league and team, the floor sucks balls. I was so spoiled by my perfectly smooth, even, grippy rink floor that I was completely unprepared for the bumpy, cracked, slippery, much abused sport court that we have at Peralta. I have been there since late April and still haven't found the perfect balance between eating shit and sucking wind. Some of you probably have the same type of surface, and are much more used to it than me. Most of the girls in my league wear 93As, which was too hard for me even at SVRG (I could prolly do it now). I've tried all Poisons (no slip but I felt like I was skating through mud), Poison pushers with 91As (still too grippy), Stingers and Trackers (not grippy enough), all Stingers (too grippy), and have finally settled on Stingers and Bzerk 88As. Even though both are technically 88As, I find that Atom makes grippier wheels than other brands, so it works. Still feeling it a little bit during endurance, but it will get easier the more in shape I get. For those of you that are struggling on an uneven floor, I found that switching to wide wheels from narrow helped give me more stability.
Speaking of slip, my Gumball toestops were great on SVRGs floor, but when I tried to do a turn stop at high speed on BADGs floor I ate shit and face-planted. I asked Motley at Cruz Skate Shop what she thought and she says the Gumballs aren't the grippiest. She recommended the Roll Line toestops. I have had these before, they are large, super grippy, but kinda pricey. Way cheaper than my uninsured trip to the Emergency Room though. These will be going on my new plates.
Anyway, bought my first pair of Bonts. I got the Hybrid, which is light and sleek like the quad racer but is made of thicker leather. The Derby Patriot has been described to me as heavy and bulky, so if you're wanting Bonts for the light sleekness, don't get these. For a flat $30 fee I added a cinch strap and sent in a trace of my foot. My local skateshop owner clued me into the fact that "customizing" Riedell skates only allows you to make the toebox and heel wider or more narrow, but if you're like me and have weird-shaped feet, there's no real way to adjust them without going full custom, which is about $600. My Bonts were about $330, including shipping from Down Under. I heat molded them last night and they feel like carbon lined gloves for my footsies. Too bad I can't wear them until my new Sure Grip Avenger Plates come in :(. Sigh... one more month. One potentially troublesome issue with Bonts is that they can take a while to make and get through customs. Also, those cute, shiny, colored velcro straps apparently break after a few weeks, so stick with the real leather stuff.
As for helmets, Windy City did a report on helmets, (I don't know if I can post the link) which made me want to shed my beloved Sweatsaver. I bought the new S-One lifer, which fits really well and is hard padding as opposed to soft (safer). They run small, so I had to buy a large, and I am having to adjust to having sweat in my eyes again, but feel better about my brain. I think I'm gonna try a hockey helmet next....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Backspin Revenge Wheels, Gumball Toestops

So being me, I was physically unable to attend Nationals without buying SOMETHING. I found a vendor who stocked Backspin wheels and had to have them, as none of our local shops carried them and I knew they came with a lifetime guarantee against hub popping and urethane chunking. As someone who has had issues with both, I was game. I bought a full set of red (93ish) .
Now well all know that the reason we buy things with lifetime guarantees is because we don't think we'll ever need it. I liked the wheels pretty well at first, they were lightweight and fairly grippy, although I did end up using narrow Poison pushers for more grip when our floor got polished.
My real issue came when I gave a Poison/Backspin set to a new girl when she bought a pair of used skates from me and the hub literally popped off of her Backspin wheel within a week. While she was skating. I immediately took mine off and two of my hubs were completely snapped off the wheel as well. Not cool.
Did I call the company? No. Because once a wheel becomes a safety liability I'm not interested in a new set of the same wheel. I threw them away and am telling peeps not to buy them. Passive aggressive, maybe, but that's me.

When the gumball toestops came out, I was skeptical. I've tried the doorknob sized Roll Line toestops, I've tried (and trashed) three different sets of Snyders (the toe stop completely popped off the metal stem for the medium and small, the large size rubbed my wheels), and my rink requires non-marking toe stops, so normal black ones don't cut it. I was ready for something that would actually work. The Gumballs come in short and standard stem length, and I went for the standard, as I like my toe stops pretty low. I found them to be almost too grippy the first practice, but as I broke them in I had a nice amount of controlled slide, so I stopped face planting and skidding during turn stops. A few girls who had purchased the short stems had issues with their Gumballs popping out (from being extended almost to the end of the thread), so if you like your toe stops low I'd get the standard length. Overall though, I'd say these are the best toe stops I've ever used, and they don't catch on the asymetrical toe stop holes in my plates.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Short and Forward mounting and Sure Grip XK4 DA45 plates

There is a time in every skater's life when she decides she wants new skates. Or in my case, another pair of new skates. But how to decide? I had already owned crappy entry level Labedas, crappy used Carreras, a nice, but somewhat boring pair of Wickeds, a custom (and ill fitting due to an orthotic measurement blunder on my part) pair of 965s mounted on Roll line plates, and a pair of stock 965s mounted on mediocre Triton plates. I wanted a custom boot and something.... different for my plate. So I started nerding out.
One lonely night as I was trolling various skate forums and skate shop articles, I came across an article discussing the benefits of 45 degree plates (vs. the more standard 10 or 15 degree) and another article on this page that covered short and forward mounting versus standard (stock plates). I, being me, was intrigued and immediately contacted the author of the articles, Geno Evil of
Geno is amazing. He coaches, skates merby, refs, and is well know throughout the derby world as a master skate builder, especially when it comes to short/forward mounting and the benefits of 45 degree angle plates. He answered all of my questions and walked me through all of my various plate options. I ended up going with a custom 126 boot (E/B last, no arch, white with black accents) and a Sure Grip XK 4 DA45 plate mounted short and forward.
You can see in my picture that I have no plate on the very back of my heel. It took me about a week to get used to the placement, but I immediately noticed an increase in my agility and (surprise!) endurance. Since there was less plate, my skates were lighter, and since all of the control was centered under the balls of my feet I was able to get more movement with less work. I tried my old skates on a few months after switching and could barely skate in them. I highly recommend this set up, especially since the plates are cheaper than most of the better Riedell plates and come with a lifetime guarantee (as opposed to Riedell's one year). The plates also have a boxed in toe stop (no more loose bolts!) so you can actually tighten the hole with an allen wrench, very high quality cushions (bushings) and come in 7mm or 8mm, so you have the option of not having to buy special lock nuts, tools and bearings (my main pet peeve with Roll Line plates).
As of right now, five other skaters have tried this plate, all but one went with a short/forward mount, and everyone is very happy. If you'd like to learn more, look up Geno and shoot him a message!