WELCOME TO VANCOUVER!! (yeah, it’s, like, 8 weeks late, but, shoot me)

Hmm, now this is a tricky one… Initially I’d planned on writing a blog a week, but, as I’ve mentioned previously, I’m pretty rubbish at this blog thing. Further more, the weather in Vancouver has pretty stubbornly prevented me from having outdoor adventures.

So, today I shall attempt to present to you a Derby Guide to Vancouver. What to skate, and where to loiter. (in no particular order)

Roller Girl
Your one stop shop for all things derby roller skate related. This was, literally, the first place I went when I got into town, as I needed to replace the bearings that I’d munted in San Francisco and get a pair of Gumballs for Raw Meat (more on them later). Roller Girl is derby owned and run, the amazing Roller Girl hear self has years of skate and derby experience under her belt and is a great source of wisdom and information. Since getting my wheels, bearings and Gumballs, I’ve been back to plan, and pay for my new, more or less custom, skates. It was amazing to get to try on a pair of prospective new boots, and even better to take them for a quick spin on the polished wood ‘test rink’. On top of that, I got advice on how to mod the skates to get the most out of them. AMAZING.

More than just an awesome shop, this place is a pretty great space. I’ve mentioned the polished wood surface to test new skates on. There’s also a pinball machine for derby widow’s forced to come shopping, and the toilet is one huge guest book!!

Raw Meat Vancouver
Raw Meat is kinda like VDL’ Super Speshy Freshy Seshies, but it runs weekly and has no league affiliation. I *think* the venue changes seasonally, or the frequency of the sessions, but please don’t quote me. The website has all the info. At any rate, it’s a really great, more or less informal training session, and a great chance to get on skates and really work on basics, like getting LOWER *cries* (this is problematic for a tall girl, ya know?). Members of Terminal City Roller Girls occasionally make an appearance (I was at a session coached by Snowcrash), and TCRG Authority Figures (refs) and Reflings (refs in training) seem to be regulars.

I mentioned above that I had to get Gumballs for this… Well, at the moment, Raw Meat is in a sports hall with a white-ish floor, and non marking toe stops are a must, as is covering knee pad caps with something white. I opted for hockey tape, as it’s abundantly available in Canada (funny that, huh?) and quick and easy to remove and apply (unlike felt, ugh).

Any way, Raw Meat is super fun, and worth while, and it’s a great way to meet some derby oriented folks. It’s also a really cool concept, the idea of having a ‘pre fresh meat course’ to get you on skates and ready to try out for a league.

Terminal City Rollergirls

Vancouver is home to my current flat track idols, the Terminal City Rollergirls. I’ve sadly not been able to see them play live, off season and stuff, but they’ve been awesome enough to let me train with them, and WHOA, star struck and feeling like a freshie. It’s not just that this league is full of amazing skaters, they’re also super community minded and generally really friendly people with an active involvement in charity. Way back when, when Pitts and I were still prodding VDL into sentience, I joined TCRG’s Facebook group and realised, right away, that I’d really like VDL to be like TCRG when it grows up.

Any way, during the season TCRG bouts at Kerrisdale Arena, Minoru Arena and the PNE Forum.
Places to skate
The problem with Vancouver in the winter is the never ending rain. On the odd occasion that is clears up, it’s just cold enough that the puddles from the previous week’s non stop rain have frozen over.

The Raw Meat website has a list of skate friendly places, but, here’s a few they’ve missed.

  • Underground and covered parking lots. Vancouver is full of them. The residential ones usually don’t have rent-a-cops to bother you. The one under the building that I’m staying in all polished concrete and dirt. Dodging cars = unexpected obstacle avoidance.
  • Seymour Demonstration Forest has a lovely, paved path to skate on. Lots of hills, some of which are pretty damned challenging. This is definitely a summer only skate, as it’s actually just a paved path through a dense forest. It can be pretty cool in there at the height of summer. If you’re looking for a challenge with some scenery, this is your best bet.
  • The Stanly Park Seawall is another scenic skate rout. Less challenging (but LONG, depending on where you start) and doable in winter. The best part; if you start in Coal Harbor, and work your way around to English Bay you’ll be greeted by Cupcakes (without a doubt the best commercially available cupcakes I’ve eaten), Marble Slap Creamery and a plethora of other nomables along Denman St.
  • Ambleside, in West Van, also has a Seawall-esqu path which is more or less opposite the actual Seawall. I think it’s called the Seawalk. Shorter, less scenic, still kinda cool.
  • Skate Parks. Lots of them. There is one literally behind the place I’m staying, one next to Metro Town, a couple in the city, one near Ambleside, a few up in North Van… The only problems are children and rain. The one behind ‘my place’ is a big bowl and is currently more of a pool than a skate park. Dang.

I think that’s it, for now.

Love and bruises

Rubi Doom xox