February 21, 2013

Struggling to Maintain

So there I was, going to through my gear bag, looking at all my tools, extra black and white shirts, broken laces etc. and asking myself if I needed to have all that stuff in there when it hit me. The gear stink. It washed over me and, though I enjoyed it for a second, I quickly got my wits about me. I threw the lot in the washing machine and starting thinking about what all that pad stink means. It wasn't quite a "questioning the motivation of the universe" moment but I did consider that there was very likely a lot of bacteria reveling in all that salty, warm sweat I leave behind after practice. That bacteria is probably the cause of a lot of that smell and as I thought more about it realized the backs of my hands had been rather dry and itchy lately...

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:

Mouthguards:  According to the ADA (American Dental Association), one should clean their mouthguard after every use. Uh... oops on that. Historically, I just popped that sucka out and put it in it's special case. Other than picking a curiously errant cat hair off it once in a while, I didn't really think much about what else needs to happen until... well, I don't wanna talk about it. Anyway, I got a new mouthguard. And this bad boy is gonna stay all clean. That means that I will wash it after using it and probably with something stronger than water (like mouthwash). Also, I will brush it with a toothbrush as they encourage and in a year or so, buy a new one instead of hoarding an old nasty one as if I were the Gollum of mouthguards. My teeth need to be a little more "precious" than I have been treating them.

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.
Skates: There are boots, bearings, bushings, plates, wheels, and laces to worry about here. Long story short, learn how to grease 'em up, tighten 'em down and everything in between because it's the most expensive part for the package. But, that is a story for another day. Yowza. Unlike my mouthguard, skate maintenance has been at the top of muh list since the beginning.

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.

Derby Love,
Mollytov Maguire


  1. Hahahaha Gollum of mouthguards. So awesome. I actually bought those denture cleaning tabs and put mine to soak in water with one after every practice.

    1. That's a great idea! I will have to pick some of those up.