On Saturday 11th March, I was invited to skate in a skate park for the first time ever.
Some of my Roller Derby Teammates from the South West Angels of Terror (S.W.A.T) were arriving at our training venue an hour earlier to skate in the nearby skate park beforehand. I usually work at the Reboot Roller Disco in Exeter on Saturdays, so wouldn’t usually be able to make it, but as Reboot were moving venues, I had this Saturday off. I packed my skate bag and met them all at the ramps.
When I arrived, I was pleased to see other skaters kitting up and as soon as we were ready, the kids on their scooters gave us the space we needed to practice.
Dirty Ballerina was my teacher for the afternoon. She was a really good teacher who started by teaching me pumping. Now, whilst going up the ramp forwards is a fairly natural feeling, going backwards feels weird. I was so wobbly, it reminded me of my first day of skating with SWAT as fresh meat, but as with roller derby, the key was getting lower.
Next it was on to turning, which was a lot easier than I’d thought it would be. First Dirty B had me carve turn and then 180° jump. The roller derby training really came in handy with these skills, although having skated anti-clockwise around a track for nearly three years, turning to the left was a lot easier than to the right.
Having seen my jumpy jammer style, Dirty B thought it best to next teach me to stop near the top of the tranny on my toestops before rolling back down again and then add jumps and 180°s to the toestop tricks.
Just before training, we had time to try dropping in. For my first few attempts, another skater, Curse T, held my hand from the bottom of the smallest ramp, but once again, the key was to stay low and I managed to drop in a couple of times by myself before training called.
As I’d loved it so much, I returned after training with Dirty B and Orla Fitzpatrick for some more dropping in (at first with Dirty B holding my hand again) before learning to land on the coping.
We practiced jumping onto the small raised platform at the end of the park as if it were the coping, which both Orla and I were able to do with a little practice, however moving back to the ramp and trying it on the real coping proved almost impossible. Having visited the skate park a few more times than I had, Orla pretty much nailed it after a bit, but soon Dirty B had to go home and so Orla and I returned to the safety of the lowest raised platform in the corner.
We practiced jumping on one end and 180° jumping off the other as well as more stalls practice before calling it a day and heading home.
As soon as I was home, I began watching Chicks In Bowls videos and other aggressive quad skaters on youtube and decided that even though I wouldn’t be able to make any more of the Saturday ramp sessions, I would make an effort to go to my local skate park and practice what I’d learned.
Luckily, my Dad has recently taken up inline skating and so was happy to come with me and skate on the flat bit whilst I tried practicing what I’d learned previously. This morning, we decided to head out and explore our local park and as the kids had gone to school, found it empty.
I practiced all Dirty B had taught me (and a little more), but was still unable to land with both feet on the coping. I can however land with one foot on the coping and the other on a toestop on the tranny, so there is some improvement.
I fell quite a few times, but mostly onto my pads. I only fell on my butt once which winded me so badly I couldn’t tell my Dad I was ok until about thirty seconds later, the air returned to my lungs. Thank goodness for the thumbs up sign!
We skated at the park for over two hours and took a couple of videos to document my progress. I’m super pleased with my efforts, even though I know I have a long way to go before I can call myself a ramp skater.
Click here to see my first skate video.
Ok, that’s all for today. Back for more skatey goodness soon!