Roller Skate Maintenance 101: Part Two

Welcome to part two of the skate maintenance series! This week we are going to cover items 7-13. Check out part one for info on items 1-6.

The various bits and pieces:

Bushings:

These little guys are also referred to as cushions, and that is exactly what they are. They are spongy rubber pieces that absorb shock and allow the truck to pivot. They also spring the truck back to neutral position. There are different hardnesses for Bushings just like there are for wheels.

*Keep an Eye on – Permanently compressed bushings. If they lose their springiness they will no long provide shock absorption which can lead to a broken truck or kingpin. It also means that they may not bring the truck back to neutral position which results in having to put more effort into skating in a straight line.

Bushing/Cushion Retainers:

These are metal separators that assist in holding your Bushings in place. Nothing too fancy when it comes to these.

*Keep an Eye on – Not much goes wrong with these so long as your Bushings are still healthy. Just give them a quick once over to make sure they aren’t cracked or rusted.

Bearings:

Healthy bearings are very important. Inside of a bearing are a bunch of little metal balls. There are various types of bearings. Some allow you to remove the front and back and others have a plastic backing that makes it so only one side opens.

*Keep an Eye on – Noisy bearings. If you’re crunching around, you’re losing speed from friction and when they get really bad you might find yourself stopping with minimal effort. A sign that they desperately need to be cleaned. Since there are metal balls inside of bearings, water is their worst enemy. If you end up skating in the rain, it’s a good idea to take your bearings apart, then clean and oil them.

Wheels:

We could talk on this topic for a wheely long time. Lots to learn and think about when it comes to wheels. When researching new wheels consider the durometer, diameter, and width.

*Keep and Eye on – Dirt build up and flat spots. It’s always good to give your wheels a nice wipe down. Soap and water does the trick when your wheels are particularly dirty. Check for flat spots as well. To promote even wear shuffle your wheels around if you can.

Lock Nuts:

We don’t really think much of the nuts on our wheels. However, these little guys are pretty darn important and they are a pain in the butt when you lose them. So treat them with kindness.

*Keep an Eye on – Tightness. You don’t want them so tight that they are causing friction against your wheels. Do check them often. If you can hand spin them they definitely aren’t tight enough. Few things are scarier than a loose wheel in the middle of game play.

Toe Stop:

This rubbery piece of goodness is how I stay in bounds and prance through packs.

*Keep an Eye on – Holes in the rubber and bent threading. Hit the breaks y’all and show your toe stop some love. If the metal is starting to poke through buy a new set because one it’s no longer going to work properly, and two you’re likely to damage your venue’s floor. And skate venues are precious. Also check the threading. Just because your toe stop never loosens doesn’t mean everything is going well. The forces we exert on our toe stops has the ability to slowly bend the threads which will result in your tow stop popping out and possibly altering the threading inside the toe stop hole on your plates. This requires rethreading to fix your plates (I unfortunately know this from experience).

Hex screw or Toe stop Washer/Nut:

These are two different methods for keeping your toe stop in place. Which one you have depends on your plates. Hex screws are built into the plate of the skate and require a hex tool for tightening. While the nut and washer are on the stem of a toe stop and require a wrench to tighten.

*Keep an Eye on – Tightness. Few things are more annoying than losing a toe stop mid game. The washer and nuts have a tendency to loosen more often. Toe caps (material used to protect the front of skates from damage) make it worse. I highly suggest putting the toe stop through a toe cap and then adding the washer and nut so that they rest against the plate instead of having a layer of fabric in-between.

How often should I clean my gear?

The cleaning suggestions are very much dependent on your skate environment and how often you skate. Sport court is the devil when it comes to making your skates dirty. I once skated in a place with permanent sport court and the amount of dirt my wheels collected was gag worthy. So individuals who skate in a sport court environment will likely have to show their skates more love more often.

I usually give my wheels a spin and listen to my bearings. When they start sounding a little noisy, that’s usually my cue to clean them. I also like cleaning my wheels and bearings before a big tournament when I know I’m likely to skate several times in one weekend. It’s a nice way to get mentally prepped for kicking butt. If you like having a predicable schedule that’s okay too. Feel free to slap some reminders on a calendar for cleanings and inspections. All that really matters is that you take the time and actually clean and inspect your skates. Don’t let your quads become a danger to you or anyone else around you.

So that about wraps it up folks. Thanks for making it to the end! I once again, hope some of the info here was helpful. If you all want me to make videos showing how I clean my bearings or anything else I mentioned here let me know in the comments. If you want another blog that goes into more depth on any topic also comment below. I’m happy to share what knowledge I have to help you all in any way!

-Jukes

This is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine…Please note, that my opinions, within this blog post and all future blog posts, are just that, my opinions. If you disagree with anything I say, please feel free to engage in respectful dialogue in the comment section below. I can also be reached at jukes@derbylisting.com. Thanks for joining me on my blog-venture!!

Roller Skate Maintenance 101: Part One

Love your skates and they will love you back.

Do you hear that crunching noise coming from your skates? It’s your bearings crying for love and attention. Its so easy to neglect our skates. We just assume they’re going to do their job no matter what, but like any tool they need to be maintained. We derby folk must clean and maintain our quad skates.

If our skates are so important, why do we neglect them? The most likely answer is lack of knowledge. If we don’t know the bits and pieces of our skates, then we can’t be expected to identify problem areas and fix them. Conducting skate maintenance will 1) increase the life of our skates, and 2) prevent an injury in relation to a skate malfunction. So join me on a Skate Mechanics 101 lesson. We’ll go over the names of the various parts of a skate, what each part does, then how to show each area some love. Since there are a lot of parts to a skate we are going to break this guide into two sections. Today we’ll cover items 1 through 6.

 

The various bits and pieces:

Boot:

The home for your feet. The boot can be made from lots of different materials; leather, pleather, and even vegan options. They come in narrow, wide, square toe box, etc. Your feet are gonna live inside of your boots for many hours a week. So take your time, do your research, and find what makes your feet happy.

*Keep an Eye on – The sole separating from the boot and look for excessive wear areas. Skates are expensive. Whether it be tape, toe caps, or tuff toe. Do what you need to do to protect them from holes.

Plate:

Excluding the boot, the plate is the largest component on our skates. I would liken the plate to our spinal cord. It is the part that all the fun pieces connect to and branch off from.

*Keep an Eye on – The little nuts that help hold the plate to the boot. If you lose one don’t replace with a regular nut, they have a tendency to fall off very easily. Buy mounting nuts or lock nuts. Lock nuts have plastic on the inside to keep them in place and mounting nuts or k-lock nuts have little teeth that lock them in place.

Kingpin:

The King of all pins (sometimes called the action bolt) is very important. There are two of them. They are the largest bolts on your skates and home to several smaller but also very important pieces.

*Keep an Eye on – The nut that keeps the kingpin flush with the plate. Not all skates have this nut exposed, but if your’s does it’s easy to spot. If it’s loose the kingpin will have room to wiggle.

Truck:

Your trucks are what you manipulate to make your skate more responsive to your movements. Tight trucks make it hard to execute tight turns while super loose trucks makes it near impossible to skate in a straight line. Every skater has their ideal truck tightness.

*Keep an Eye on – Weird bends and metal integrity. Not super common, but trucks can break. They can also become bent during a collision or wild skate park adventures. Just give them a quick once over every few weeks.

Axels:

These guys extend from the truck and are the home for your wheels.

*Keep an Eye on – Bends and debris. A bent Axel makes for a bad day. They’re pretty hard to bend though so shouldn’t be much of an issue. However, axels are great for trapping hair. Be kind to your axels and remove the randomness that gets wrapped around it.

Pivot Cup:

These little guys are so easy to forget about. Honestly, a lot of people don’t even realize they exist. Pivot cups keep the truck stable while also giving it a smooth plastic surface to rotate or “pivot” on. They are extremely import! They are actually made pretty strong, but they endure a lot of punishment.

*Keep an Eye on – Cracked pivot cups. Since they are a combination of plastic and rubber (or sometimes just one material) they can crack and break into small pieces. A cracked pivot cup means a less smooth surface for your trucks to pivot on. Also, as the plastic crumbles and falls out it means that your truck is going to start grinding directly on metal which can cause permanent damage. If your trucks seem to have more freedom of movement than normal and you haven’t adjusted them in any way, it’s likely your pivot cups have gone bad. Uncontrolled trucks can lead to broken ankles, so please check your pivot cups.

What’s Next

Okay, I just overloaded you with knowledge on 6 parts of your roller skates. So how often should we be checking all of these things?? Honestly, most of these checks are a visual inspection or a quick touch and you’re good. After practice, give your skates a brief once over before you pack them away. Doing that simple act can help you spot problem areas long before they become major issues.

I appreciate you all making it to the end. If there are any topics that you want me to go more in depth on, just let me know in the comments 🙂

-Jukes

This is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine…Please note, that my opinions, within this blog post and all future blog posts, are just that, my opinions. If you disagree with anything I say, please feel free to engage in respectful dialogue in the comment section below. I can also be reached at jukes@derbylisting.com. Thanks for joining me on my blog-venture!!

Do you smell that?

It creeps up on your nostrils when you’re least expecting it and latches onto your nose hairs for dear life. What could be assaulting your nostrils with such vigor?? It’s Derby funk. Not the down in the dumps kind of funk. I’m talking about the, you just knocked yourself out by smelling our own gear, kind of funk.

It happens to the best of us. We have all, on occasion, forgotten our gear in the car or have allowed it to stew over night in a zipped bag. However, there are those who proudly flaunt their well curated derby funk. Some leagues even present end of year trophies to the smelliest of derby folk. But derby funk is like farts, you might be cool with your own odor, but no one else is. All kidding aside, if you’re gear is smelling funky, and is against your skin, it can actually lead to infections, rashes, or break outs. And heaven forbid a skin issue gets in the way of derby time. Has anyone ever wondered what is really making our gear smell bad?

No? Just me? Well, I’m a self proclaimed nerd so get ready for some nerdy talk. We’re all aware that we have sweat to thank for that awesome odor. Sweating is the human bodies cooling system. So, sweating is a good thing. And if you’re working hard and putting forth full effort at practice, it’s very likely that you will end up sweating. So I’m not hear to bash sweating, or to pick on the extra sweaty kids on the track. What is interesting about sweat, is the bacteria that is attracted to it. Did I just say bacteria?

Yes, yes I did derby fans. When your gear is extra funky, it means you’ve got yourself a bacteria party getting down against your skin. Sweat is mostly water, but a small percentage is a mixture of ammonia, urea, salt, and sugar. This combination of inorganic and organic stuff happens to be what the bacteria, on our skin and gear, loves to…dare I say…EAT. When bacteria such as Micrococcus (commonly found on polyester) and Staphylococcus (commonly found on cotton) start feeding, all you can buffet style, the byproduct is the wonderfully pungent smell, we call, derby funk. So basically, when our gear smells, we are smelling bacteria farts.

So there’s the science behind derby funk, now how do we minimize it without washing our gear after every use? Bacteria enjoys hot, wet, and dark environments (i.e. derby bag in a hot car). However, it still multiplies fairly well in cold, dark and wet environments (i.e. derby bag in a cold garage). So here are some ways to stave off the funk:

1. Air out your gear after every use. Getting rid of moisture slows down the bacteria orgy.
There are lots of cool ways to dry your gear. There’s the old fashion, lay your stuff on the floor option. You can also use a fan, or if you’re looking for something a little more fancy, there are shoe dryers and sports equipment dryers that can cut down the drying time.

2. Spray it down.
Spraying stuff down works well if you combine this with airing the gear out. There are lots of things you can use to assist with the killing of bacteria, but keep in mind nothing is a 100 percent solution. White vinegar is a good natural bacteria killer along with rubbing alcohol. Better yet, both are natural and easy on the skin. There are also sprays that neutralize odor, but not all of them kill bacteria. If you’re a little more adventurous, you can also make your own sprays using a combination of essential oils that deodorize and kill bacteria.

3. Don’t forget, washing is a good thing.
Hand washing is easier on the pads. You can toss a medley of deodorizers and disinfectants into hot water. Good start, is to mix in detergent, white vinegar, and really anything else you think will help. Make sure everything gets nice and soaked then just let it sit for 30mins or longer, depending on how funky they were. Then, when it’s done soaking, rinse all of your gear under running water to get any soap out of the pads. Finally, use your favorite drying method. Of course, you can use your washer; however, it’s a little rougher on your gear and you’ll want to control the velcro parts to avoid them catching to other items. If you’re washer has this option, it’s a really sweet deal to let the pads sit and soak in the washer before it begins to go through the wash cycle. Usually, if I go the washer route, I put all of the pads into a pillowcase and close if off with a hair tie. I don’t suggest drying your gear in a dryer. Air dry or any of your other favorite drying options will do the trick.

So we know what’s making the smell, we know what makes the smell worse, and we know ways to combat the funk. However, what I really want to know is, what are you all using/making that works to fight the funk? Share in the comments below, so together, we can make derby just a little less smelly.

-Jukes

This is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine…

Please note, that my opinions, within this blog post and all future blog posts, are just that, my opinions. If you disagree with anything I say, please feel free to engage in respectful dialogue in the comment section below. I can also be reached at jukes@derbylisting.com. Thanks for joining me on my blog-venture!!

Movin’ and Groovin’

Hey derby fans!

So I’m in the middle of a move. Currently packing my life up and making my way to Missouri. Moves are so dang hard, and I swear they never get easier. The stress of trying to neatly pack your life into boxes, topped with the chore of canceling the various utility accounts, oh and let us not forget about pausing the mail (paused writing to check that off the list, yay!), cleaning your now empty home, and last but not least, saying goodbye. Goodbyes amplify the awfulness of moving. I’m unbelievably terrible at saying goodbye. I’ve been known skip out on even saying it, opting to pretend I’ll see everyone tomorrow.

There was really only one move that caused me to break down in tears. As a kid it was my normal to pick up my life and relocate. I didn’t like it, but I accepted it. I always try to keep it positive when I move. I research things to look forward to at my new location. Honestly, at this point in my life, the change of scenery every few years is kind of nice. One thing I’ve grown to love is finding a new derby team. It almost feels like I have a family waiting for me in every state. I figured this move was a perfect opportunity to put the DerbyListing website to good use.

I did a google search for teams and compared my results to that which was already on DerbyListing. The List did pretty darn well; however, there were a few newer teams that didn’t appear on the website. One team in particular, is so new that I only heard of it by word of mouth (don’t worry I added them to the list). It also happened to be the team located in the town I’m moving to. So here’s the deal derby fans. This website has the potential to be a great asset to the derby community. However, Richard and I can’t do it by ourselves. Here is our two-part call to action:

  • If you see a team that is missing, add it. If a team has a new Facebook page or they no longer exist, correct it. This is a team effort!

  • Share derbylisting.com with your friends, league mates, and derby mates around the world. The more people who know about this asset means more eyes and ears out in the derby world that can help contribute to the site.

The website is made so that visitors can make corrections and additions. However, to ensure erroneous data isn’t added (wiki style) all corrections/additions are vetted by the one and only, Richard Hurton, before it is made visible to the public. Once a change is made visible to the public, it is announced via a Facebook post. Every contribution makes The List more accurate. Please help our derby community.

-Jukes

This is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine…

Please note, that my opinions, within this blog post and all future blog posts, are just that, my opinions. If you disagree with anything I say, please feel free to engage in respectful dialogue in the comment section below. I can also be reached at jukes@derbylisting.com. Thanks for joining me on my blog-venture!!

The First Practice…Attempt

Sometimes I get these grand ideas to try new things, then it suddenly hits me, that it would require me to do things outside of my comfort zone. Old me would pitch an internal fit (current me is still a nervous human, but far less dramatic). That’s when the anxiety and self doubt would usually kick in. So many thoughts would pump through my brain, and most of them would be negative. The same was true when I decided to try roller derby. The internal war I went through, might as well have been a reenactment of WWII. The mind is a tricky thing.

The Monday after I saw my first bout, I worked up the courage to go to a practice. I am very skilled at getting lost, so I left my apartment early. However, this was one of those rare occasions when I didn’t get lost, so I arrived at the practice venue with plenty of time to spare. I strongly dislike arriving first at events. It gives me time to over think some more, and potentially bail out. I sat in my car, listening to the radio to calm my mind. One by one, derby women parked, grabbed their gear, and walked inside. I sat in my car like a creeper, and watched them mosey on in. I sat in my car, till five minutes after the practice start time, and decided it was time to walk in. I counted to three, with three being my cue to open my car door, and sat there frozen.

For me, counting to three doesn’t always work on the first try. In this moment, it took three rounds of counting, to finally open my car door and step out. I timidly made my way inside where derby ladies were strewn about the floor putting on their gear. I awkwardly hovered partway between the entrance and the group of women.

Finally, after what seemed like years, someone walked up to me. “Hey there! Can I help you?” Flight mode was activated, with what courage I could muster up I held my place and answered, “Hi…yea…I saw you guys skate on Saturday…and…umm…heard the announcer say to show up at a practice…to join.” The skater smiled, “I’m so happy you came! Well hey, we’re actually doing a bout review today, so it will be kind of boring, with not much skating. But how about you come back Wednesday. It will be a full practice on skates. Do you own skates?” Once again my awkward response, “Oh, okay…ummm…no…I…I don’t have skates.” The skater smiled, I think she sensed my nervousness, “Okay, don’t worry about it, we’re at a skating rink, so you can use a pair of the rentals, for free. We also have a bag of funky gear you can borrow from. I see you have a mouth guard, so you’re all set.” I smiled, fumbled around with my mouth guard, “okay, sounds good. I’ll come back Wednesday.” I scurried out of the venue. I made it outside and took a deep breath. Hard part done, right?

No, not even. It was almost soul crushing, that I had showed up on a non skating day. Waiting another 48hrs, gave me more time to decide it was a dumb idea. They didn’t know my phone number, or know my name, and they probably wouldn’t even remember I stopped by. Therefore, I could slip back into my comfort zone, without anyone knowing, right?

How many of you think I went back on Wednesday?? I’ll save that answer for another post. Right now, I want to talk about having a league plan (a plan for what?). A plan for, what to do when a roller derby wanna be stumbles into the door. Do you turn them away? Do you get their name and phone number, then hit them up when a fresh meat program starts? Do you stare at them awkwardly and wait for them to melt away? There’s no right answer. There’s just, what works for your league.

Some leagues have open recruitment throughout the year, so when a stray walks in, you can get them set up and ready, right away. If your league is hurting to recruit bodies, then you best have a plan to trap that nervous little newbie before they run away. Other leagues can’t really afford to train a new kid at a random practice during the week, and that’s fine too. However, if that’s the case, maybe get their name and contact info, then turn them into an NSO, until the next fresh meat session. It’s also, a good idea to plaster your social media sites with future skater recruitment dates. Most importantly, you just need to have a plan that works for your league. Make sure everyone knows what the plan is, or perhaps take it a step further, and have a few skaters who know the plan really well. Then make sure they are the ones who scoop up random folk, who walk in interested. Just some food for thought.

I’d like to hear what works for your league. What kind of plan do you all have in place? Leave a comment below to give other leagues some fresh ideas. Thanks for reading! – Jukes

This is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine…

Please note, that my opinions, within this blog post and all future blog posts, are just that, my opinions. If you disagree with anything I say, please feel free to engage in respectful dialogue in the comment section below. I can also be reached at jukes@derbylisting.com. Thanks for joining me on my blog-venture!!