Derby Travel Season: Oh, the Places You’ll Go (But Won’t Really See)

11822495_10153006715031806_504762756915716923_nWe are heading to Florida soon and I can’t wait to get my beach groove on. Laying on the beach, swimming in the waves, and enjoying that sunshine! BUT before any thoughts of beach time creep into my mind, I need to focus on the two bouts that are unbelievably more important than any Florida experiences.

This highlights one of the most difficult parts of roller derby travel – being in an awesome new place but seeing NOTHING except the inside of a skating rink or an arena. But this is how it should be – sure, you are in a great part of the world, but you are there to compete, not be a tourist.

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Beautiful Salt Lake City. This is about all I saw of the city.  Photo courtesy of Joe Mac.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while traveling:

-If you go somewhere sunny and warm – STAY OUT OF THE SUN AND HEAT! This will completely zap your energy (and dehydrate you). If you’re like me (fair skinned), you can get sunburned in less than 15 minutes. It’s not worth it. Go someplace indoors, stay in the shade, or just wait to do outdoor things until after you’ve played.

-Don’t spend all day before a bout walking around a city.  Would you run 3 miles before your derby bout?  No, I hope not.  So why would you walk 3 miles?! You are there to play derby and you should be conserving your strength as much as you can. Do a driving tour or just take a short jaunt to a fun café/restaurant and hang out all day.

-Speaking of fun cafés/restaurants – don’t decide to try something new and exotic the day before or the day of your bout. Sure, maybe every restaurant in Tucson offers huevos rancheros for breakfast, but if you don’t usually eat that – I recommend not trying it out for the first time on bout day.

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Of all of the places I have traveled for roller derby, I feel like I have only lost sight of my derby priorities twice: in Seattle/Portland, and in Las Vegas. We were just too excited to be in these locations – I spent time walking around in the sun, taking in the sights and enjoying all kinds of delicious food. Although I have a lot of “non-derby” memories from these trips, I definitely did not play my best games.

There is a way to strike a balance, however.

The easiest way is to stay in the location a few days after you are done with derby. Or even if you can only be there one extra day, don’t stay up until 4 a.m. at the derby after party. Go to bed (relatively) early and get up early the next morning to tour the city before jumping on a plane or in a car.

Another option is to find just one or two small things to do as a team over the weekend. Target one restaurant or one sight that you can see with some teammates, and then forget about the rest. Snap a few pictures, have a few laughs, then jump back in your cars and drive back to the venue or hotel.

1239343_10201988087482748_1161787614_oSure, it sometimes stinks to be stuck indoors all day when you’re in a beautiful new city, but the only reason you’re in the city in the first place is because of your competition. Don’t let them lure you into their awesome hometown in the hopes that you’ll wear yourself out looking at all the sights and getting sunburned before showing up to play them physically exhausted and mentally drained.

I’ve spent plenty of beautiful days in amazing cities, sitting in my hotel room relaxing, stretching, and eating the most basic food from the grocery store. But at the end of the day, I don’t want to lose a bout because of my poor decisions.  I just keep a long list of all of the cities I can’t wait to visit again.


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