By Bubble O’Kill

I’m not going to lie, I hate skating across Commonwealth Bridge.

The off ramps make my legs turn to jelly, and dodging pedestrians on the narrow paths is beyond amateur obstacle avoidance.

So it makes sense to me that the better option would be to skate around all 28kms of the lake track rather than over the bridge.

Not the most time effective solution, but definitely the most fun!

Inspired by Junk Punch’s West Basin adventures, Phar Slap, Rabid Hutch (one of our ‘I’ll give anything a try’ white stars) and I planned our marathon day for March 10th.

Slap organised the essentials like burger rings and lollies; I looked after the first aid kit and maps.

We only needed first aid once – when Slap decided to cut herself open before we even started the skate.

Bandaids in place, we commenced the anti-derby loop from Reconcilliation Place.

We tried to pace ourselves since we had no idea how long the skate would actually take, but a few little hills around Yarralumla helped us gain some speed.

It was here that we encountered our first major obstacle – the cyclist.

To be fair, the majority of cyclists are awesome.

They shout or use their bell to let us know they are coming, often slow down to chat about the glory of the 80s, or laugh when we stumble (who wouldn’t?).

However when they try to sneak past unannounced, they may cop a swinging arm, or a skate that is pushing out (we need more width than a bike to propel forward).

When aware of a cyclist, we would communicate as a pack, form a line and generally apply the brakes.

Note to civilians: we don’t have a metal lever to help us brake, so it can take a while to stop – particularly down hills.

We also attempt to avoid gravel and uneven surfaces that trip us over and so occasionally need to use the other side of the path.

Please don’t swear at us, we are trying really hard to stay out of your way!

Our second obstacle came in the form of the ‘hill of death’ just past Weston Park.

This is not a particularly steep hill, but is deceiving because its length means you pick up some pretty swift speeds.

There is also a blind corner half way down, followed by a dip into a tunnel.

Going first, I completely misread the hill and just about needed to change my underwear half way down when I realised I couldn’t stop.

Rabid Hutch chose to bail out on two occasions, rolling on the grass in her valiant efforts to avoid pedestrians.

Slap cruised down and we were all pretty high on adrenalin by that point.

After crossing one rickety wooden bridge (God bless toe stops) we made it to Scrivener
Dam where we filled up on sugar.

Our next lesson was a reminder that what goes up, must come down.

After a long uphill stretch towards ANU, we were rewarded with a nice downhill ride through beautiful scenery and a public toilet at the end (less nice but alas still rewarding).

Past the museum, we then reached the bike shed where Phar Slap enjoyed a chocolate sundae.

For those who know Slap, you will understand my jealousy that she can finish this dessert, continue skating with a belly full of ice-cream, and still remain as tiny as ever.

Completing the central basin was nice and familiar, and our feet really enjoyed the smoother surfaces for a change.

At Kings Avenue Bridge, we debated whether we should cross or keep going, even though the East Basin was an unknown entity.

We decided to keep going since we had come so far.

We got a little lost around Clare Holland House, but got back on track and cruised along towards the airport and obstacle number 3 – ‘the curious case of the missing path.’

Due to recent flooding, the path had fallen away into the Molonglo River.

We had no choice but to take our skates off and walk through bushland up towards Morshead Drive.

Walking along a main road with protective gear and no wheels resulted in lots of beeping car horns, so we were relieved to find the other side of the path (especially Slap who didn’t bring any shoes so was walking over glass in bare feet).

The next 30 minutes or so was perfect – beautiful farm land, wide paths and no traffic.

Then came the mud.

We had been skating through a lot of dirt and debris all day, so this particular patch didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary.

I attempted to speed through and my wheels got stuck, resulting in a belly flop and slide.

I looked up just in time to see Hutchy and Slap repeat my mistake.

All three of us just sat and laughed for a long time, rather relieved that there were no members of the public around to see us rolling around in the mud.

Slap’s sopping dress then became a crop top, and we continued on our merry way.

Much to the distress of Rabid Hutch, we passed the rabbit poisoning areas before reaching the Kingston Foreshore.

There are no paths here, so you skate on varying degrees of bumpy roads all
the way back to the central basin.

There are also no cars however, so it was a great opportunity for
some street skating in what is going to be a spectacular development when it’s complete.

We arrived back at Reconciliation Place 4.5 hours after commencing.

Lots of hugs and photos followed, as we were just so chuffed that we made it (and in one piece).

In speed and endurance drills, I’m the skater who normally gets lapped.

Being as competitive as I am (just ask those who have seen me cheating at pool); it is really deflating to come to every single training session, try your hardest and still come last.

So it was really satisfying to be one of the first VDL gals to complete all 28kms.

I am now incredibly motivated to continue to push myself and to encourage others to come along for outdoor skates.

Hutchy is an inspiration to all newer skaters, and is proof that you can silence the little voice in your head that says “This isn’t a good idea.”

On Good Friday, we did it all again. Colonel, Diazeslam, Sheriff, Slap and I completed the 28kms in 3 hours and 20 minutes – a huge improvement on last time. We then celebrated the burning of calories with the consuming of calories at Brodburger. Stabby, Junk, Rubi, Wispy, Jillie, and Ref Donald also came along, creating a ‘pack of awesomeness’ for the West Basin.

It was such a fun day with the people I love, and I never thought I would enjoy exercising so much!

LBG was the location of my very first skate with my future derby wife Diazeslam almost a year ago. I skated (or stumbled) about 1km that day then gave up and went home.

It was a bit of a tear jerking moment when we completed the skate together and looked back at just how far we had come.

Derby love to all xx

Bubble O’Kill