Wednesday, December 22, 2010

La la la, linoleum!

I skate on sport court. It is good in that it is even and has no cracks to trip on (like concrete or split wood), but it is very slippy. Yes, I am in PA. Slippy is a word. My first skates, Riedell R3, came with the Radar Caymans. 95A, viewed as a waste of plastic to most skaters I know. These were way too hard for me and I ended up getting a set of Radar Mojos, 88A, on a whim. I like them, I don't skid out, and I'm under the impression that at my now 172 lbs, I benefit from the aluminum hubs.

But I'm a compulsive shopper. I want, no, NEED new toys. I've been a good girl! Ok, but I still want new wheels. Mainly because I hate pink with a fiery passion, and that was the only color they had in stock and I really needed to get rid of the Caymans. So last night I saw some Sure Grip Blasts for sale, in red glitter :D Unfortunately, I think they are also 95A, and they looked pretty dodgy. I can't find any info on them, not even on the Sure Grip site.

I'm trying to put more research into this than I did last time. Fast Girl Skates has a wonderful compilation of articles from Blood And Thunder magazine that compiles a lot of the research I've done in one place. Though, according to this, 88A's are for beginner, shaky skaters, or should only be used as pushers, while the rest of the wheels are something harder. So I'm a fair bit better than a beginner (obviously not pro yet, though) and I don't know if I'm dragging myself down with the grippier wheels. I definitely felt like molasses the last time I skated on recently mopped concrete, but the sport court feels quite ok. Is it just that I don't know that I -could- be going faster? There are SO MANY OPTIONS!!! I'm also thinking of going the narrow (Atom Poison Slims Alloys) route so I don't trip over my own wheels. Or spinners!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stinky pads

Very, very stinky pads. Like, hobo piss bad.
I'm lazy. I'm not going to deny it! So for the first couple of months, I just threw my bag in my trunk and forgot about it. And then it got to the point that even when I did use soap (dirty hippy, remember?) it was impossible to get the stench off my elbows. So I started dragging everything inside and laying it out in the basement in front of the dehumidifier. I even sprinkled it with my trusty baking soda, to no avail :(

So after some more handy dandy googling, I found many solutions:
Spraying them with 50/50 vodka and water
Aerating system I plan on eventually making
Sweat soaking satchels I also plan on making if I find out what they are filled with (baking soda and kitty litter or some other desiccant)
Get The Funk Out enzyme spray
Febreeze or perfume sprays. For the love of god, don't do this!!!

Laundry is bad. The heat and agitation will decompose the foam in your pads and mess up the elastic in the straps. Yes, it is a quick fix and sanitizing and crap, but you will just end up getting hurt and having to buy new pads very, very soon.

I know many people that claim to use vodka, but I haven't checked how effective it is. The reason it works is that when the vodka evaporates, it boils and kills the bacteria, after already having broken down its cellular wall. No bacteria, no stench. This is also a big part of what happens with the enzyme spray (it has a lot of isopropyl alcohol). I looked into getting the stuff that is specific for sports pads, but I already had a gallon of Nature's Miracle at home, due to the wonderful Herb, so why not? This stuff is wonderful! It really did make a huge difference in my elbows ^_^

Some day, I plan on buying some PVC and making the aerator system so I can just clamp everything on when I take it off, and pull it out of my bag and hang it as soon as I get home. But in the mean time, cat piss spray is awesome!


Stolen from See? I have chemicals!

For those of you playing at home, I often pretend to be a grad student that works in a Materials Science and Engineering lab when I'm not skating. Of course, I spend all that time at work thinking about skating. After a few of hours swimming through the internet, I came to to the following conclusions:
  • - It really doesn't matter what ABEC your bearings are. Unless you are a super pro speed skater, you aren't going to miraculously win every jam by spending $200 instead of $10. If anything, the more precise the bearings (higher ABEC rating [milled to more precise dimensions]) will be more liable to get stuck and damaged with the least amount of dirt. So just get the ABEC 5 or 7's and call it a day.

  • - Bearing cleaners are solvents, like acetone or orange oil (Goo Gone). Yes, you can buy specialty crap, or not. Whatever you do, make sure you dry them out very well before oiling. Some require rinsing with water, which can rust the bearings and tracks if not properly dried.

  • - Oil vs Grease. Well, most people are divided on this subject. Grease stays inside the bearing better, but will also be more viscous and cause drag. You only get a benefit from grease if you are going very fast for a long time, like an industrial machine that heats up. So just stick to mineral oils, available wherever they sell bearings for just a few bucks.
So what all did I do to ready up for the bout? Let me count the steps ^_^
  1. Pull out the bearings from the wheels. I highly recommend a bearing pulling tool, seeing as how I crimped the shells on two of my bearings. If you have the ones with removable plastic sides, you can just push them out with your axle and a bit of determination (or a screw driver).
  2. Wipe them down with a rag, preferably lint-less.
  3. Stick them in a jar with industrial strength acetone. Swish it around until the liquid stops getting yellow/brown.
  4. Pull them out, spin them while holding them in the rag, and blow out in fume hood.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with toluene.
  6. Stick in vacuum oven at 140˚ for half an hour until you are sure everything is dry.
  7. Lay flat on towel and add three drops of oil on each bearing. Wait a few minutes, swivel, flip, add oil, wait, swivel and done.
  8. Reinsert in wheels, making sure to keep any you completely fuck up for trophies.
  9. Make sure you do this with at least one practice before a bout. You have no idea how dirty your bearings are until you see the difference!
Stupid ideas I had that were corrected by experienced skaters:
  • - Teflon spray will make everything awesome!
  • Don't do it! It will make the bearings lock up.

  • - WD40 is cheap and available!
  • Some girls love it, some say to stay away from it.
  • "Aerosol lubricants such as WD-40 and '4-way' sprays do not have anti-friction properties. Squeaks are only temporarily stopped because the spray wets the surface and then quickly evaporates. These sprays are good for releasing frozen nuts and bolts, but not for lubricating."

  • - If I spend all the money in the world and switch out my equipment every month, I will be the bestest derby girl evar!
  • Bitch, please! Just chill and check in with reality every once in a while. Pay a little bit of attention to upkeeping what you already have and you can be as good as the best. Dedication will get you so much farther than your credit card ever will.
Here are some people that I plagiarized and stuff:

Jingle Brawl

Ok, so this is the main reason I've been AWOL for the past four months, for those who haven't noticed. I'm the crazy chick dancing. I'm always the crazy chick dancing! This was so much fun/stress/insanity, that I am so glad it's over/can't wait for the next one/hope I never have to do this again.

Damn, it is so difficult to get back in to the swing of this blogging thing. I can't even remember what I've already talked about, though I'm guessing not much... So this might get a bit repetitive.

SCAR: Well, the league is really starting to pick up. But after a couple of months of hard work and three interventions, I'm taking a breather. I would have taken the month off, regardless, due to finals/christmas, but the drama really made it come early. I don't know if I'll go back in the new year or not. They are putting a lot of emphasis on a Do Not Compete/Exclusivity contract that I just can't get behind. It goes against everything I know derby to be. I have visited with so many teams in a four hour driving radius that are so friendly and eager to teach, that I don't see the point to forcing skaters to not practice with other leagues. It might make sense if the leagues are more established, are competing and don't want to let their supar, supar sekrit game plans out, but all of the girls that skate on leagues at that level tell me this is bullshit. So who knows.

SVDV: I can't love these girls enough! They are always so nice and accommodating. We had our first public scrimmage a week ago, made enough to cover our costs and then some, and got two huge boxes of toys to donate! I was so nervous leading up to it, but as soon as I was in that line to skate onto the floor, the world was at peace ^_^

We only had two 20 minute halves, with a 20 minute intermission where some of the girls played musical chairs, shopping cart races, and a little skit where two girls wore antlers and beat up a santa. It was such a blast, and it went by so fast! I really wish we could have waited a couple of more months, since there were so many of us that were so nervous. The date was a bit imposed on us due to availability, but it came out pretty good in the end.

Tonight is our christmas party, and then no skating until dec 30 :( I complained last night on FB and a couple of girls in Lancaster invited me down to their practices. It really sucks that they aren't having their regular sunday morning practice, since I'll be in Lancaster saturday night supporting my roommate in his family events. I'm going to try to convince people to drive down with me tuesday or wednesday. Which, beeteedubs, it sucks that I finally finished classes and can throw myself into lab work, and the lab will be closed 23-3.

One of the things I plan on doing this time off (hahahaha, plans!) is catching up here. I want to start compiling the shit I've learned about derby, mainly so I can remember how to clean my bearings next time! And, you know, all those swaps I've been in...