Derby and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I did it. I joined a Roller Derby team. Well, I didn't join a particular team, I joined their rookie training program (or "Fresh Meat" if you're cool). Today was the first day of practice. I showed up, put on my skates and gear and set out for a lap around the track.

And there it was. The rush of air brushing lightly against my jawline, teasing around my neck and trickling down my back like a familiar caress from a long forgotten lover... The breeze gives me wings that open up and envelop me. There's a feeling of pure bliss that makes you wonder how you haven't been doing this your entire life.

The only other time I've felt like that? When I learned to drive a motorcycle for the first time.

Other than the amazing rush factor, Roller Derby and Motorcycle Riding have a lot in common. For instance, in both cases you need to keep your head in the direction you are going - this facilitates turns. In other words, don't look down. Or as one of my lovely trainers explained this past weekend: "The ground is still going to be there, you don't need to check. Ok, maybe check before you take off, just to be sure, but trust me, you don't need to check."

Both also require a certain amount of balance and intimate knowledge of your centre of gravity - two things I never knew I had. I remember when I took my first riding lesson, the instructor asked if I was an athlete of some sort. Not at all, was my reply. It just seemed to her that I knew how to really "sit" on the machine. If I remember correctly, she said I had a certain amount of grace in it.

Grace? Me? I guess.

The thing is, when I first put on a pair of roller skates, people said pretty much the same thing. In fact, they couldn't believe it was the first time I had tried them on. It all just came so easy to me.

Now, that's not to say that I got on a bike or put on some skates and I was all super L33T pwn at it (or for my non-n00b friends - I wasn't a all super professional). I failed my motorcycle driving test on the first try and my ass has seen a decent amount of cement, though I was quite happy that did not happen this time around. But I know that in both cases, with regular practice, these are two things that I could be really really good at.

Let the good times roll.