This epiphany lead me to do a couple of things last weekend. First, I went SHOPPING. I got some pad stink spray and a new mouthguard. OK, fine, I got a cute t-shirt too. But I was using a giftcard I received for my birthday so I had to get something that was fun too. HAD TO. But that is a story for another day, isn't it? Second, I researched gear maintenance. Here is what I learned:
Pads: While my wrist and elbow pads have sustained me for a long time, the one thing I need to commit to changing more often are knee pads. They take a licking and keep on ticking, but I could to be nicer to my knees. They're the only set I have and my knees came into this sport a little damaged, so if I don't want my first knee replacement to be sooner rather than later I need to stay up on that. It seems to be recommended that new knee pads should be purchased every year at minimum and more than that if needed. There doesn't seem to be a good, clear indicator of how to know when it's time, but if you take that fall and think "wow, that was more jarring than usual" it may be the right time for replacements.
Helmets: Your helmet needs to meet certain standards before you even hit the track. Plain and simple. It should be able to take an impact of uh.. I dunno, a lot. Read more about Wicked Skatewear's testing here. I didn't do the research, but I did read it, and I am sold. Protect the noggin. One of our skaters recently fell, and even with her helmet on, got a concussion. She waited the requisite amount of time and as she prepared her gear for her next practice, noticed that there was a flat spot on her helmet from the fall. She didn't mess around with this. The structural integrity of the helmet may have been compromised and that is really all the reasoning that one needs to get a brand-spankin-new helmet.
|Yours truly with her beautiful custom jobbies.|
Antiks. Worth every penny.
In conclusion, be reasonable with your gear. Your mouthguard shouldn't have a smell or taste unless it's toothpaste. Your knee pads should have cushion enough to take many a digger before they start to go. In my research, one player said "I know it's time to get rid of them when I can't wash the stink out anymore." Sage advice I think. Also, protect your brain. Always. Really all I am saying is, like a good bout-day ritual, there needs to be a method to the madness of maintaining your gear. Think about it once in a while and show it some love off the track.