New Gear Geekout: Part one, new skates

Black Reidell 695 redlines, size 6.5, shearling tongue, open toe box, leather uppers

Black Reidell 695 redlines, size 6.5, shearling tongue, open toe box, leather uppers

This is my first new pair of skates in four years, which makes me pretty stodgy.

Most speed skaters have new skates every two and a half years, and new components oftener than that. Derby skaters might buy new skates three times in three years, because the first two sets of skates a derby girl buys are always too big. Speed skaters expect pain in the feet; they’re a bit like ballerinas that way. Derby girls of course expect pain everywhere else, but it doesn’t occur to them that for a good fit, the pain must start with the feet.

Unless you buy good stuff right away. After seven years of skating I’ve learned. I texted my dealer, Steve at Lombard, with my skate-geek order:

Reidell 695 redlines, black, size 6.5, with shearling tongue, open toebox, velcro overstrap, leather uppers
7mm Avenger plate #2
Atom Booms wheels

Atom Boom wheels, fast and yet sticky!

Steve outgeeked me of course—he is a dealer—so he talked me into the D (wide) ball and B (narrow) heel, because as he well knows, women tend to have feet shaped like a duck’s, and men tend to have feet shaped like bricks. Who knew?

Well, anyone who’s had to buy quad skates. All skates are built on a men’s last, that is, the flat part (or “last”) on the bottom is shaped for a man’s foot. This means all women skaters have to wear EZ-Fits (neoprene half-socks) on their heels and maybe an extra pair of socks, because skate manufacturers haven’t caught up with the fact that 98% of all rollerskaters these days are derby girls. There’s nothing like slaloming and juking your way around the track, dodging hip checks and feeling your heel suddenly slide halfway across the inside of your boot. Ugh.

Avenger plates tilt you at 45-degree angle

Avenger plates tilt you at 45-degree angle

Of course my Fleetwood Speed Team coaches, Jack, Rowena, and Jason Countryman, helped me pick all the features. Jack unequivocally endorsed the Avenger plates. Rowena let me try on her 695 redlines—my last pair was a pair of her castoffs, as our feet are the same size. Jason, geekmaster of all things wheely, put me onto the Booms.

Let me crow about my new skates.

The 695 boots fit perfectly. The wider ball and narrower heel mean no sliding in the boot. The shearling tongue gives cushy comfort on top. I loved Rowena’s old white skates, but it’s nice to be wearing black again. Rowena is the sort of person who can wear white without getting grubby. Not I.

With the Avenger plate, I’m already tilted at the correct 45-degree skating angle, so I don’t spend so much energy tilting myself.

The Atom Booms wheels are a miracle: hard enough to roll as fast as a 95-hardness wheel, but sticky enough to grip the floor like a 66-hardness wheel.

all my gear

all my gear

All these things mean almost zero breaking-in time. Most of my breaking in has been about deciding whether to leave in the manufacturer’s insole, replace it with a lesser insole, or do without an insole altogether. I’ve settled on el-cheapo Dr. Scholl’s for now.

Here’s my entire gearset: skates with two sets of laces for a custom fit, toe-protectors, and gumball toe-stops; EZ-Fits; wrist-guards with heart monitor; elbow pads; kneepads; asspads with tailbone protector; and my coolio original Whip It headband, the elastic now hopelessly stretched out but still my favorite skating souvenir. I see I’ve forgotten to picture my helmet, or “brain bucket” as we call it in horse jumping. That’s because it’s currently hanging on my new bike during the speed season break.

New bike: continued on next geek-out rock.



New Gear Geekout: Part one, new skates — 4 Comments

  1. This is a sport about which I know absolutely nothing, Jen, so this is all fascinating. I love your enthusiasm for it.

  2. I have the same problem in ballroom dancing–my heels are so narrow I step out of my shoes. That’s why I wear only a one inch heel. If I was wearing Latin shoes (2.5-4″) I would have probably broken an ankle by now. You’d think at least one manufacturer would automatically correct for that, right? Nope. Custom shoes, which are beyond my reach.

  3. Oh, my. Too many years. I noticed that my mom did something with the skates (just ordinary skates) because the pretty red case was full of doll clothes! No wonder I never found them. Skate on!

  4. Sheila, be careful you never go to see roller derby in the flesh. You will love it too…and want it…whatever your age or athletic interests!

    Cat, I didn’t know you did ballroom dancing? How about those T-strap heels that I see all those Broadway musical dancers working in? I suppose they’re custom, bleah, and cost hundreds.

    Cee, I’m sorry your skates went the way of all comic book collections. But you probably need larger ones now anyway.