Boots make the derby girl

I’ve got a brand new pair of rollerskates…

I have them. <insert magical unicorn and rainbow music here>

Glorious new roller skates which will magically transform me into the fearless skater I am quite positive my beginner skates were hindering me from becoming.

OK, I know that may sound silly. But I suddenly feel as if I’ve traded in Folgers for Dunkin Donuts coffee (shut it — I have an addiction), and it is delicious.

For two-and-a-half seasons, I settled for my Riedell R3s. Now, don’t get me wrong — my old faithfuls made me happy for a long time. We learned to play derby together. We broke bones together. We won MVP awards together. We shared laughter and tears. But at some point along the way, simply upgrading bearings and wheels didn’t do it anymore, and it was time to take the plunge. As all of KCRW was told in practice by Coach Ice one Tuesday evening, you have to be able to push your skates to their limits to make them perform the way you need them to. My R3s had met their breaking point back toward the end of my first season. My skates had fizzled out.

The R3s are great beginner skates. They help you get comfortable being on eight wheels. They help you learn to move and keep your balance. They help guide you down the path of the derby life. And then you discover — quickly, might I add — that upgrades are necessary.

I had plans to upgrade my skates this year anyway, but when I made the KCRW All Stars, I knew my old skates weren’t going to cut it. I’ve struggled along the past couple of months, knowing it was time to make the investment. And since I got them last week, it’s evident that this will be exactly what I needed to step up my game.

I picked the Riedell 695 boot. Based upon recommendations from Hall Balls and her wonderful father, Ted, who owned the rink where I skated with the Springfield Rollergirls, I went with the Sunlite plates. They’re durable and affordable, and will give me the agility and cutting power I’m looking for. I also loaded them up with Gumball short-stem toe stops, and I’m rolling with my lovely Atom wheels (a combination of G-Rods and Poisons) and Bones Swiss Bearings. All for more speed and agility.

I won’t lie — the break-in period is hell. My current and former derby sisters have shared their stories about bone spurs, blisters, and just overall foot pain they’ve experienced breaking in these boots. Last week, I had a crazy gangsta limp from an intense endurance practice in which I made a poor choice in socks and managed to sweat my way into misery. Still, I cannot complain. Especially because everyone says when you suffer through it, it’s totally worth it for the end result.

So far, I can tell I have more confidence. I’m anxious for the moment it doesn’t hurt to cut, because right now, I’m stumbling around like Bambi. It’s been tough to stay on my feet with a shorter mount on my plate. Oh, and that toe-stop issue I was having before? Well, it’s hard to use your toe-stops then they’re mounted in a completely different place, so that should take care of itself in no time. Domination (of sorts) will come soon enough.

Honestly, I regret not getting these skates sooner. But perhaps it’s just what I needed to kick it into high gear as we head full-force into the 2012 travel season. Wretched Wolf is on the prowl.

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