Saturday, July 19, 2014

Quick Tip: How to Remove Sure Grip Avenger Pivot Cups

The Sure Grip DA-45 Pivot Cups are made of Delrin nylon, and are among the longest-lasting pivot cups around, but even they should be replaced periodically. These cups are standard on the Sure Grip Avenger, Invader, and XK-4 plates using the DA-45 trucks.

If you've ever tried to remove the cups, you know how tight of a fit they are, and it is virtually impossible to remove the cup without marring the plate and likely breaking the tips off a few tools in the process!

This little hole is our saving grace!

Some plates have a small hole on the back side of the plate to allow you to push the cup out, but not these - making removing the plate a fruitless effort. So, how to get these cups out without damaging the plate, breaking our tool, and stabbing ourselves in the hand?

Luckily, Sure Grip was nice enough to put a small hole in the bottom of the pivot cup. This hole allows air to escape from between the cup and the plate when installing the pivot cup; but more importantly for us, it gives us a handy way to remove the cup.
Nothing like a good screw.

First, find an appropriately sized screw. I use a standard coarse-thread drywall screw, but pretty much any similar-sized wood or sheet metal screw should work (obviously, you want to make sure it's not a self-drilling drywall screw meant for metal studs, lest you end up with a hole in your plate and sole of your skate!).

Starting to move!

If you want to make the process a little easier, you can put a drop of bearing oil in the bottom of the cup, but it is not necessary. To begin, drive the screw into the hole using a screwdriver. The king pin will be in the way a bit, but it's easy enough to work around. (You can remove the king pin of the Invader or XK-4 if you'd like, but it is not necessary, and the kingpin of the Avenger is not removable in any case.)

Almost there!

Once you drive the screw through the pivot cup and it starts pressing against the metal plate, the pivot cup will start to be forced up and out of the cup. Continue to drive the screw until the pivot cup is pushed up to the point where it starts spinning (usually this happens once it gets about 90% of the way out of the cup). At this point grab onto the cup with some pliers and pull it out the rest of the way. That's all there is to it!


Until we skate again!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Skater, Feel Thy Feet!

Picture it:  You are about to skate for 5 minutes to determine whether you will remain a rookie for another season or skate your way to rollergirl.  You made sure to hydrate, eat well, and have adequate time to warm up, yet after only a few laps, a familiar sensation begins to creep from the tips of your toes through your feet, and soon, it will be making its way up your lower legs.  You know something bad is about to hit you...hard. 

Today we are going to discuss an issue that plagued me, as well as many of my teammates, during the first few years of our Derby careers.  Can you relate to the scenario described above?  Even if you have never actually experienced this exquisite pain, I'm sure you have skated with someone suffering from it.  The unique combination of foot/lower leg pain and numbness is often only relieved after taking your skates off, which means you'll have to spend the rest of practice watching from the sidelines.  If you haven't yet found other ways to prevent/relieve this problem, such as stretching your calves and shins before and after practice and icing inflamed areas, you may only need to make a few simple adjustments to your laces to get the pain to subside. 

But before we get into some preventative measure lacing techniques, let's take care of an administrative issue.  In the previous G Spot post, I announced the 6 lucky "Shocker's Box O' Goodie" winners; however, only 2 of them have e-mailed me their mailing information.  I have yet to hear from:

  • Ashley Dawn
  • Tracy
  • Amanda Brown
  • Amanda Duncil

If you know someone on this list, please shock them with a cattle prod and let them know they need to email me their information.

For June, I'm going to give away one (or a few if I'm feeling generous) of my popular DerbyPunk Wine/Liquor Bottle Stoppers to a follower of my new Etsy store, The ShockerKnot.  When you stop by my store and click on the "Favorite" button, why not check out the Roller Derby inspired items I've created?  You may find the perfect gift for your favorite Rollergirl/guy, or even yourself!  New items are added all the time, so visit often and get the jump on the latest creations.

Now, back to painful problems.

Lace Your Way to Pain Free Practices

In the last G Spot article, "What a Tangled Web We Lace," we discussed various skate lace attributes such as length, material composition, and color availability.  Now let's talk about how you can use different lacing techniques to reduce/relieve discomfort when skating or prevent pain from occurring in the first place.

Double Up
The "Double Up" method is a simple lacing technique involving 2 pairs of shoe laces (not skate laces) each about 45" in length.  As depicted in the following photographs, the bottom half of the boot is laced with one pair of laces while the other pair is used for the top half.  Each lace is tied off with a bow or appropriate knot and is not connected to the boot's other lace.

First one laced and tied off.
Finished Product
Second lace added.

This technique is useful for skaters who need to use different tensions when lacing their boots, such as needing to lace the bottom half as tight as possible while leaving the top half loosey goosey (oh yeah, I went there).  If your boot presses against the nerves in the foot or ankle, it can easily cause serious discomfort; however, if the skater is able to pinpoint the area where the skate irritates her nerves, this technique can help to keep the laces loose in that specific spot while still being able to tighten the boot enough that her skate doesn't fly off the track without her.  This method also allows skaters to show off twice as many crazy/cute laces, such as these ------------->

Uncrossed Laces

If you tried the double lace method and are still having pain when skating, you may need to avoid lacing over certain parts of your feet entirely by using a technique I like to call “Uncrossed Laces.”

To do this, you will end up with your skates laced normally (horizontally) above and below the area causing you discomfort, but will lace vertically in order to avoid putting pressure on the sensitive area.

How to lace boots using the Uncrossed Laces technique:

End Uncrossed Lacing

Suspected Problem Area
Begin Uncrossed Lacing

Return to Normal Lacing
Uncrossed Lacing Completed

Lacing Through Tongue Loop

As you can see, once you reach the sensitive area, instead of crossing the lace to the opposite side, you thread it through the next rivet on the same side. You lace vertically through one or two rivets, but I wouldn't recommend more than two because the tongue could end up popping out or sliding to the side. After you are done lacing vertically, resume normal lacing through the rest of the rivets and the tongue slot.

If the tongue in your boot bunches or slides to one side, make sure you have laced through the slot in the tongue if you have one, not all tongues do (I could make a dirty joke here, but that would be out of character).

Something else that may help is warming up without tightening your laces.  As in, after you put your skates on your feet, you don't touch your laces at all before you start to skate.  You may want to tuck in your laces so you don't end up rolling over them and if you have an ankle strap, it's helpful to velcro it back on itself to get it out of the way.  

I started warming up this way about a year ago and noticed a huge difference in how my feet feel during/after practice. If your skates fit properly, you should be able to skate fairly normally after slipping your feet into your boots. After warming up for 5 to 10 minutes, lace up as usual; not too loose or super tight. You should notice that your skates suddenly feel like extensions of your body, as if long lost orphans have finally returned to their place of birth. It's an awesome feeling which is difficult to describe.  When I lace my boots after warming up, I suddenly feel like I can jump, turn, and juke like Suzie Hotrod.  My feet become more responsive and my shins/calves don't cramp like they used to. 

If you end up trying this out, give yourself time to get used to the feeling and mechanics of skating like this. It may take a few practices, but once you get to the point you feel comfortable skating "unlaced," you'll be able to get the most out of this technique.

If you find that your heels tend to slip out of your skates, even after you tighten your laces, you're in luck!  The next G Spot post will go over some tips for keeping your heels nice and snug in your boots.

Until we skate again!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What a Tangled Web We, Lace

The wait is finally over!  Thanks to everyone who commented on my last article, "Changing Wheels."  The response was amazing.  Thanks to those who offered their own personal tips and tricks (if you haven't gone back to read the comments, I recommend you do so)!  Well, without further ado, the lucky G Spot readers who will get something from "Shocker's Box O' Goodies" are:

  • Ashley Dawn
  • Kyrstin Krist
  • Tracy
  • Amanda Brown
  • Amanda Duncil
  • Shari Konst

If you see your name, congratulations!  Shoot me an e-mail at with your mailing information (name, address, phone number optional) and I'll get your goodies in the mail ASAP!  If your name didn't get picked this time, keep trying!  I try to do these types of give-aways as much as possible...who knows, there might be something at the end of this article...*wink wink*

Whether you won and are anxiously awaiting a package delivery or you're trying not to be too sad over the fact you didn't win this time, let's distract you with a topic I've encountered frequently over the years...

Recently, I've had quite a few skaters ask me to recommend laces that won't break or shred after just a few practices while other skaters have issues lacing their skates so that their feet stay put without having the laces pulled so tight their feet end up cramping and/or going numb.  Here are a few informational nuggets I've learned throughout the years and suggestions for some tried-and-true as well as new-to-the-market laces to take a look at the next time you're in the market.

But first, there's the little matter of length.

Size DOES Matter
Laces come in many sizes...laces at 2N1 Skate Shoppe range from 45" to 110," which can confuse even the most veteran skaters.  Let's go over which lengths work best for the many styles of Roller Derby boots.  The following is a GENERAL overview on the most common lace lengths you'll find and which boots they SHOULD fit.  A few factors will cause the wearer to need a different length than the one listed below; such as, how tight/loose boots are laced, whether the laces wrap around the ankle or plate, and number of eyelets used (see the "Skate Comfortably" section below for different lacing examples).

Antik Waxed Skate Laces in 4 Lengths

45" - Shoes or may be used as a pair for each boot to create 2 different tensions.

54"-60"-66" - Youth skates, Jackson, Sure Grip, or other skates with less than 9 pairs of eyelets.

72"-81" - Most adult Roller Derby boots with at least 9 pairs of eyelets.

96"-108" - Hockey, Figure Skating, and High-Top Boots such as the Antik AR1 or MG2.

Lasting Laces
Some laces seem to start to shred immediately after you've threaded them through your eyelets...well, I'm happy to tell you those days are no more!  Longer lasting options are now available, such as:

Colorful Crazy Laces come in 3 Sizes
Crazy Laces
It used to be the only option for seriously durable laces came from the same company that brought us Play wheels and Bounce toe stops...Crazy Skate Co.  They are no longer the only game in town as far as lasting laces go, but they are the only company that offers their laces in a rainbow of colors.  Crazy Laces come in 3 sizes and the number of colors available varies by length.

Waxed Laces
Antik, Luigino, and Sure Grip offer waxed laces in a variety of lengths, which are not only long lasting, but also stay in place once tied.  I suggest these for skaters who prefer their laces super tight and get annoyed when they come undone when skating.

Kevlar Reinforced Laces
I haven't been able to test these Kevlar Reinforced Laces out yet but they sure seem like they would be pretty impossible to shred.  Definitely an option for skaters tired of repeatedly breaking laces.

NOT Your Old Skates!
New Custom Skates Built at 2N1 From Soccer Cleats!
I have noticed that many skaters have serious foot/lower leg cramping issues that won't seem to go away when they get their first non-Rookie pair of skates.  It baffled me for a long time...especially with those skaters whom I personally fitted and know they are wearing properly fitted boots with all the correct accouterments (plates mounted correctly with kingpin angles, wheels, and bearings specifically picked out for the skater).  Finally, after watching a skater lace up, I realized these skaters were treating their new skates as if they were the same as their old ones!

Rookie skates (at least the ones we sell at 2N1) run around $175 and are made to last around 1-3 seasons of Roller Derby practices/bouts/tournaments/boot camps.  At the end of their lifespan, they are usually floppy sacks of leather barely being held together by patches, shoe-goo, and sheer willpower.  Skaters have to lace them a specific way to keep their feet from going numb while also making sure the skates aren't going to fly off the track when performing cross overs or running on their toe stops.

When skaters receive their next pair of skates, they are in the habit of lacing a certain way, but when my clients come to me for upgraded skates, they should not only fit them like ballerina slippers, but also be able to hug their feet without having the laces pulled taught and their heels should be cupped by the boot in such a way they won't slip out yet are as mobile as if they were wearing nothing.

This is one of the many reasons why it is so crucial to have a good rapport with your Roller Derby gear supplier.

Skate Comfortably
There are many different ways to lace skates.  The best method for you depends on factors like foot shape, high/low/normal arches, type of skates, skinny/normal/fat ankles, and personal preference.  I will post a different method, including pictures, for the next few blog posts since we have already discussed quite a bit of information and I'm sure your attention is waning (thanks for sticking around this long!). 

Want to know what's happening in this picture? ------------------------------>
Stay tuned to the next article to find out!

For my next giveaway, I'll be giving away one of my popular DerbyPunk Wine/Liquor Bottle Stoppers to one of the followers of my new Etsy store, The ShockerKnot.  When you head over there, why not check out the other Roller Derby inspired items I've created and find the perfect gift for any Rollergirl (including yourself!)!

The giveaway will happen at the end of June 2014, so if you are reading this article after that date, you missed out on this particular opportunity; however, I regularly run contests and giveaways either here, on FB, or through one of my other various media outlets, so keep stalking me and I'm sure you'll be able to get in on some Shocker action soon.

Until we skate again!

P.S. The G Spot now has a FaceBook Page!  Keep track of new articles as well as current and upcoming contests by "Liking" the G Spot on doing that, you may be entered to win something in the future...