Standing on the Corner, Waiting for a Bus
When I moved to Minneapolis, I started working downtown and realized that many people opted to take public transportation rather than driving. A few years later, I also moved not far from the light rail train, so for a solid decade, I took the morning train, worked from 9-5 and then I took the train back home again. As job possibilities presented themselves, one of my ongoing requirements was being able to continue my easy train commute.
On a Downtown Train
After my position was eliminated at the end of last year, I started a new job, and for the first time in 12 years, I am driving daily to and from work. I was reticent to make this change, but I also received an offer for a job that was a perfect fit for me, so driving to and from work seemed a small price to pay for a great career opportunity. The other day, I took the train downtown to meet a friend for coffee. It reminded me of the good, the bad, and the ugly about commuting to work my train.
Why I Usually Loved My Train Commute
For me, taking the train was quicker, safer, cheaper, easier and enabled me to have a smaller carbon footprint. What’s not to love?
Why I Occasionally Disliked My Train Commute
Lower cost? Easier? What's not to like? Well, there are a few things...
What Do You Think?
What are the good and bad parts of commuting to and from work using public transportation? Include your thoughts in the comments.
Support your local roller derby!
In the Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota area, there are multiple opportunities for adults, teens and children to watch, and even learn to play, roller derby. Here's the lowdown on each organization.
Where to Attend a Roller Derby Bout as a Spectator
North Star Roller Derby
North Star Roller Derby (formerly known as the North Star Roller Girls) is a skater-owned and operated flat track roller derby league in Minneapolis that is affiliated with the WFTDA (Women's Flat Track Derby Association). Bouts are held approximately 6 times per season at the Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St Paul. The four home teams are the Banger Sisters, Delta Delta Di, the Kilmore Girls, and the Violent Femmes. Northstar Roller Derby also has two travel teams: the Supernovas and the Northern Lights.
The Minnesota Rollergirls is a skater-owned, flat-track roller derby league in St Paul that is also affiliated with the WFTDA. Bouts are held approximately 6 times per season at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in downtown Saint Paul. The four home teams are the Atomic Bombshells, the Dagger Dolls, the Garda Belts, and the Rockits. In addition, The Minnesota RollerGirls have two traveling teams: the Minnesota Rollergirls All-Stars (A Team) and The Minnesota Nice (B Team).
Minnesota Men's Roller Derby
Minnesota Men's Roller Derby is a member of the MRDA (Men's Roller Derby Association). Teams are comprised of inline skaters, former hockey players and more. Bouts are held approximately 6 times per season at Champion's Hall in Eden Prairie. There are two home teams for regularly scheduled bouts: Destruction Workers and Thunderjacks. There are also two traveling teams: TC Terrors (A Team) and The Terrordactyls (B Team).
Learning Roller Derby: Adults
Satelites is the North Star Roller Derby's recreational roller derby league. Skaters of all skill levels from those with no skating experience to those retired from competitive roller derby and everyone in between are welcome. In order to participate, you need to be at least 18 years old, have safety gear and have primary health insurance. Purchasing WFTDA insurance is also required.
There are three levels: Space Cadets (beginners), Space Rangers (intermediate) and Astronaughties (advanced). This is a great place to learn roller derby whether your goal is to be more active or if you aspire to compete. Typically there are fall and winter sessions with the option to practice once or twice a week.
(As a point of reference, I've been part of the Satellites program since early 2017, and I love it.)
Debu-Taunts is the training program affiliated with the Minnesota Rollergirls. The Debu-Taunts give skaters a positive and challenging environment to learn roller derby skills whether they aspire to try out for the competitive teams or to play recreationally. In order to participate, you need to be at least 18 years old, have safety gear and have health insurance. Purchasing WFTDA insurance is also required.
Debu-Taunts practice twice per week and hold 12 week training sessions in the fall and in the spring. There is currently a waiting list to participate.
Some people, who are doubly dedicated to learning and practicing roller derby as much as possible, enroll in both the Debu-Taunts AND the Satellites programs.
Fresh Meat Locker
The Fresh Meat Locker (or FML) is the training program for the Minnesota Men's Roller Derby. The program is open to people over age 18 of all gender identities. This training program is intended to help teach new skaters roller derby skills to help them become "battle-ready derby superstars." Contact Minnesota Men's Roller Derby for details.
Learning Roller Derby: Children and Teens
Twin Cities Junior Roller Derby
Twin Cities Junior Roller Derby helps "Derby Dudes and Derby Dames" from ages 3-17 learn roller derby skills. Skaters can come in with no skating experience at all or feeling very comfortable on skates. They typically have a fall session and a winter session where skill groups, (beginning, intermediate and advanced) each have dedicated training times. Many trainers have competed in roller derby, and enjoy helping children learn basic skills. Skaters get to pick their roller derby names, can purchase TCJRD scrimmage jerseys and can participate in scrimmages with other area teams on occasion, too.
(As a point of reference, my daughter has been involved with TCJRD since early 2017 and has enjoyed it so far.)
NERDY Junior Roller Derby
NERDY Junior Roller Derby (North East Roller Derby Youth) helps children from ages 7-17 learn roller derby skills regardless of their skill level coming. They organize skaters by size (rather than skating levels) into "Bigs" and "Littles" and into "contact" and "non-contact" for scrimmaging purposes. Many trainers have competed in roller derby, and enjoy helping children learn basic skills. Skaters have the change to sign up to practice twice per week, and skaters can drop in for practices and pay a per-class rate. Skaters get to pick their roller derby names, can purchase NERDY scrimmage jerseys and can participate in scrimmages with other area teams on occasion, too.
What Do You Think?
Additions? Corrections? Thoughts? Share your input in the comments.
Previously I posted about indoor roller skating rinks that are open year-round in the Twin Cities area. Now, let’s talk about other skating options:
BYOG: Bring Your Own Gear (and Wear It!)
For these roller skating options, there’s no equipment rental. Instead, you need to have your own skates, and your own safety gear (knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, helmet, mouth guard) as well. In some cases, safety gear is required, but in all cases safety gear is just plain a good idea.
Wear Safety Gear Outside
Personally, I fall down a fair amount because I’m trying a new skill, doing something involving contact or dodging small children—and that’s inside on a floor designed for roller skating. Outside, it’s a whole different experience. Now you have things like heat, cold, rain, wind, puddles, uneven terrain, rocks and potentially traffic.
When skating indoors, even just at a roller rink, I always wear some kind of knee pads. Always. Outside, I recommend wearing closer to full gear. You may feel like a dork for a bit, but injuries suck, and sitting on the side of a trail bleeding is not cool at all. Regardless of heat, I also suggest wearing leggings of some sort. Falling on even a thin layer of material is much more pleasant than having your bare skin scrape across pavement (as my daughter learned the hard way).
Skating Outside=Different Wheels
That’s right. Indoor skating and outdoor skating require different wheels. Who knew? Well, now you do. In short, roller skating wheels vary in how hard they are and for outdoor skating, you need softer wheels to absorb the shock of uneven terrain. Wheels are labeled with a durometer (or hardness) number. The higher the number, the harder the wheels. Wheels considered outside wheels typically have a durometer of 78a. Hybrid wheels (appropriate for both inside and outside) are typically 84a. 88a and above (the scale goes to 101a) are for skating indoors.
Given that super quick description, get thee some outdoor wheels. As a frame of reference, I picked up wheels that are a 78a, for myself. I also have dedicated outdoor skates, which were my starter roller derby skates. I I know myself well enough to know that I was not going to take the time to change my wheels each time I wanted to switch from skating outside to inside.
For my daughter, who currently has 1 pair of roller skates until I figure out if her feet are done growing, I got a set of hybrid, or indoor/outdoor, wheels with a durometer of 84a. Again, I’m not changing her wheels every time we skate, and the extra grippiness of having softer wheels indoors for her is not the worst thing as she learns new skills.
Where to Skate Outdoors
Now that we’ve had the safety gear and outdoor wheels talks, here are ideas on where to actually get to the outdoor skating:
Special Indoor Skating Events in the Twin Cities
Here are a couple more options for skating. These are inside events where you need to bring your own skates and safety equipment. They only open at special, scheduled times:
Find a Skating Buddy
If you're in the Twin Cities area, and looking for a buddy for skating related fun, check out the Skate Dates group on Facebook.
My daughter and I started roller derby earlier this year. Suddenly, roller skating on a regular basis became a priority. I asked around with the Twin Cities Junior Roller Derby Parents, and got a few ideas on places to roller skate in the area.
In short, there are 5 roller skating rinks open year-round in the Greater Twin Cities area. Click here for general tips on roller skating rinks, and a few notes on each.
How To Decide Where To Skate
For me, when figuring out where to go, it comes down to a few key factors:
Roller Skating Center Possibilities
Cheap Skate, Coon Rapids, MN
Roller Garden, Saint Louis Park, MN
Saints North, Maplewood, MN
Skateville, Burnsville, MN
Wooddale Fun Zone, Woodbury, MN
Find a Skating Buddy
If you're looking for a buddy or group for skating related fun, check out the Skate Dates group on Facebook.
I learn for a living. I distill my research into useful blog entries. Geek, parent, knitter, yogi, writer, educator, businessperson, health advocate, & skating nerd.