So I’m the kind of nerd who has giant industrial size bags of bicarbonate of soda (AKA baking soda) in her house for eco-friendly cleaning and junk. The cheapest way to buy bicarb is to pick up one of these large bags off eBay, but you can pick up regular size tubs from just about any supermarket. Bicarb is great for sucking up moisture, which makes it ideal for dealing with sweaty skates and trainers. Adding a few drops of a fresh-smelling essential oil (I like tea tree) might just make you the best smelling person at practice.
What you’ll need to make a set of skate deodorisers:
It’s probably clear even to those outside of the sport that roller derby ain’t the cheapest of hobbies to take up. Unlike some sports, roller derby requires a lot of equipment. I’ve heard that some leagues have kit that people can use for try outs, but in most cases beginners have no choice but to buy all the required kit before they even get a taste of playing. But recently I got to thinking; aside from the obvious kit-related costs, what else have I spent money on in my first 7 months or so of roller derby? I figured this kind of insight might be handy to someone thinking about giving the sport of a go, so here’s a breakdown of what I’ve spent on roller derby so far…
An early upgrade I made to my entry-level roller derby skates* was to change the cushions (sometimes called ‘bushings’, although I hear cushions is the correct term in this context). If you look at the underside of your skates, you’ll see some little rubber doughnuts (probably black in colour) between the plates and the trucks. I’m not going to go into the anatomy of a skate, because frankly I still have a lot to learn myself, but here’s a nifty diagram showing all the various parts. Cushions are probably the cheapest part of a skate you can upgrade (I paid about £15) and they’re easy to do yourself – perfect!
Why change your cushions? Well, the cushions that skates come with (cheapy cheap beginner skates at least) tend to be really hard, which makes side to side movement, and things like turning and transitioning, difficult. One answer to this is to loosen your trucks, which people commonly do when they start playing roller derby. However, changing your cushions out for softer ones will give you the same effect as loose trucks, but better. The difference I felt when I changed my cushions was HUGE. It took some getting used to, and some fiddling round with the tightness of my trucks, but ultimately it was a major improvement.
Changing cushions isn’t hard (in fact is so simple I wondered if a tutorial was a bit ridiculous!) but, in case someone else finds it useful, below is how I changed mine in step-by-step photos. One word of caution – make sure you get the right cushions for your skates, as there are a few kinds. If in doubt, ask the friendly staff in your local skate shop.
Do you know of any other cheap/easy skate upgrades for new skaters?
*these, if you’re interested.
Pay day this month meant I could FINALLY get myself some of the kit I’ve been needing. Top priority was some outdoor wheels – I managed to pick these up second-hand complete with bearings for £25. Bargain.
Since I already have a red helmet and now red outdoor wheels, I figured I may as well stick with the red theme and got myself some red cushions (bushings). I’ve heard that changing your cushions is a good upgrade for rookies because it’s cheap (I paid £15.95 for a full set) and relatively easy to do, so I figured I’d go for it!
While I was in the shop (the awesome Double Threat Skates in King’s Cross, in case you’re interested), I also picked up some cheap toe guards (£10) which I figure will be particularly necessary now that I can skate outside. Can’t wait to update my skates!
How bloody good are these toe guards from Etsy shop Strawberries and Scream? I’m in love. Wonder Woman! On your feet! (£23)
Glittery stuff! It’s a scientific fact that glitter improves everything, so why not your skates? (£22)
Pow! Bam! Seems like excellent roller derby advice to me. I adore these classic comic book exclamations. Available in a range of colours (£25).
Just look how awesome these Batman toe guards look on some skates. Just LOOK (£23).
Don’t have enough gold skulls in your life? Sort it out (£20).
Or, make like the the green guy and SMASH (£23).
Well, £20-25 for a pair of hand-stitched, made in the UK leather toe guards seems like a pretty good deal to me. These would make a great gift for the derby player in your life. I also spotted vegan ‘leather’ toe guards in the Strawberries and Scream shop, for those who prefer to avoid animal products. Roll on pay day…
Photos belong to Strawberries and Scream.