Tuesday, April 10, 2012

If A, Then Fall Down.

Cleaning my skates isn't hard, or scary, it's just an exercise in patience coupled with my OCD-tendencies and utter terror of botching something up. I'll spare you the how-to of bearing maintenance (though it appeared on my facebook page last night at a friend's request), as my fears lie in the details.

What if I bend a bearing cover. What if there's still dirt in there and the bearing locks up and I die. What if there isn't enough lube and the bearing locks up and I die. What if there's water in the bearing and it rusts then locks up and I die. What if I snap something on the cage (the thing that holds the individual balls in place) and the bearings fall out and my wheel falls off and I die. And so on.

Granted, all this is relatively pointless, since the ACTUAL consequence of any of these worst case scenarios is pretty easy: If A (where A is the catastrophic ruination of any part of my skate while skating), I fall down (I am the best faller on the team, I have NO fear of falling), do situps for the rest of practice, and buy new parts.

All that said, it took me four hours to fully clean my skates last night, since my bearings had to go through four acetone washes before I was convinced that they were all clean enough to be reassembled.

Shiny and clean!

The interesting thing happened when I went to clean my wheels. (Lucky, there is nothing scary about cleaning wheels. Rinse 'em off and you're done.)

The first time I took my wheels off my skates was also the first time I had them regrooved. After about a year of skating, they'd all been worn bald, and I was sliding all over the track. Theoretically, people told me, you can tell how you're skating based on how worn down your wheels are, and where. Inside wheels wear faster than outside wheels, since that's where you should be putting the most pressure. They also wear at a slight angle, because of crossover. Because of this, you should rotate your wheels regularly.

But my wheels were all uniform. I took this to mean that basically, I sucked.

This time, though, as I was swishing my skinny new Stalkers around in soapy water, I realized that they actually felt different. As I took them out and looked at them - yup. Sure enough, some of the grooves are more worn down than the others. And it's pretty evenly divided, 4 and 4. So, inside wheels and outside wheels. Which means that since starting roller derby (and changing to new wheels that don't suck and actually allow me to T-stop and are ohmygod amazing), I've legitimately become a better, stronger skater. Whaaaaaaat??

I shudder to think that I might actually be, y'know, learning anything in roller derby besides how to skate fast and get low, but there it is. If I keep doing a thing, eventually I will get better at that thing. And eventually that thing will have noticeable results. It's terrifying. And inspiring. And I just said inspiring.

All cleaned up and ready to roll.


  1. I share the fear of messing up my bearings when I clean them. Hooray for new wheels though, I recently replaced mine too. It feels so good to skate now!

  2. If you replace "bearings" with "beard" and "wheels" with "mustache" then you are describing my life. Get out of my head M'ris!

  3. But it's warm and fuzzy in there. Also... you lube your beard? That's kinda weird, PJ.

  4. I totally lube my beard. It's helped me win 2nd Place on two different occasions. And it is completely weird. But it smells nice.