roller derby week 4

See week 3 here.

It had occurred to me that I might injure myself while practising, and I had thought about avoiding practising on the weekends to give myself time to heal before Monday. I think about a lot of things that don't happen. So having somehow intensified the the bruise on my thigh on Sunday afternoon, I spent Monday afternoon trying to talk myself out of goinng to training. On one hand, my body was fine... everywhere except the bruise. On the other hand, even light touches against the bruise were bafflingly painful. On another part of the second hand, apparently that place is where I fall, and apparently falling is a thing I do. I consulted the internet on the consequences of bruising already-bruised skin and it told me I have cancer, so I went back pensively writing SQL queries while waiting for the subconscious to figure it out.

In the end, I printed off the rules of flat track roller derby and went to training, where I sat solemnly in the centre of the track, huddled in my antiquated Pirate Party hoodie, gazing jealously at the rest of the newbies. I figured, even if I'm not skating, I can learn something by watching and listening. Or, instead of watching and listening, I could continue to deliberate about joining in, while slowly succumbing to the clammy sense of inadequacy inspired by watching other people get better while I sit on my partially-broken ass shivering like an abandoned dog. I stand by my decisions.

They covered backwards skating, transitions (switching between forward and backwards skating), and derby stops. A derby stop is roughly when you turn around to use your toe stops to stop (in quad skates, the rubber stop thing is on the front of the shoe, as opposed to the back on inline skates). I just went looking for an illustrative gif and fell into a hole of roller derby gifs followed by kentucky derby puppy gifs, so I offer no further explanation of derby stops.

Transitions are worrying for me, because one approach (the simpler/easier one, possibly) is to do a mohawk turn. This amounts to briefly going into first or second position in ballet, where your feet form a line with toes pointing outwards. I have really tight hips, which has not served me well through many hours of ballet and yoga (I can't sit cross-legged, to the confusion of many), so achieving that position with my feet takes time and hurts. I have yet to properly learn transitions (I have yet to properly learn skating backwards), but so far I have been using a weird combination of multi-step-hops and spinning on my toes to turn around. Time will tell if these are acceptable methods, cause I don't see mohawk turns happening any time soon. Maybe I'll skip that part and go straight to jumping 180 degrees.

Later that week, something bizarre happened. Deflated after sitting out of training, and struggling to pull myself out of silver league in Overwatch, I tried some very casual, very careful derby practice at home. My room is small and the rest of the house contains far too many breakable objects to practice in, so home-practice consists of putting my skates on and then rolling carefully back and forth between my computer desk and my wardrobe. One day I will stream myself skating around my room while waiting to respawn in Overwatch, and it will be beautiful and terrible. The bizarre thing was that when I put my skates on, instead of my body seizing up in terror, I continued to feel like a normal person capable of controlling my legs. That is when I discovered I could spin on my front wheels. Had I always felt like this? Was the fear a strange dream? Had I actually found it difficult to do side lunges before? Was I suffering from some temporary bruise-induced delusion? I honestly don't know what happened. It is unsurprising that I would become more comfortable with practice, but I didn't expect it to be a step function. That's not to say that I feel entirely comfortable on skates (lord no), but it seems my fear is now focused on new things (like transitions and crossovers), instead of everything.

Gear talk interlude: The 'newbie' skates I bought are Riedell R3s, which come with PowerDyne (round, adjustable) toe stops. It turns out that these are on the smaller end for toe stops, so balancing on them is a little like balancing on high heels (except, you know, on the toe). Natalie has voiced concerns about twisting her ankle while trying to do a derby stop with these, so we are going to order bigger toe stops, most likely Gumballs. Hobbies: never not incurring costs.

On Saturday we found a carpark by Zurich airport for practice. It was a little too inclined for me to feel happy doing much more than intensely failing at slalom, but I also took some time to explain crossover mechanics to Natalie. I can understand things without being able to do them, a fact which is persistently frustrating. Part of this explanation involved me standing mostly-still and crossing one foot over the other, which is not a thing I thought I could do. In fact, that is a thing which I explicitly said I couldn't do two weeks earlier, so I was astonished and smug in equal measure for the rest of the day. Also a wizard. I have a quiet confidence that I could do crossovers if I tried now, but at the time of writing, I've had The Bruise for almost three weeks and it's still there and still (somewhat) painful. During the earlier gif tangent I found a catalogue of derby bruises, which begs the question: how is everyone's first bruise so goddamn small?