Starting 40 Out with a Crash

Forty years old is when you start expecting things to hurt arbitrarily. Maybe not all at once, but the ghosts of wounds of yesteryear are expected to emerge and cause frequent annoyance. Honestly, I’ve been experiencing that for years anyway, so I assumed I’d just cruise into this getting more of the same. Instead, I decided to get myself a shiny new DDR pad and fall the hell off of it.

Well, maybe not fall off of it exactly. L-Tek pads are from Poland and are some of the nicer mid range pads for a DDR hobbyist like myself. I’m not a serious player, but I try to be consistent one, and after decades of dealing with floppy pads shelling out over time and producing infuriating “Boos” I decided to treat myself to something a little more Polish polished.

The trouble is, these things sit about an inch off the ground. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you’ve spent your life jumping on flat-to-the-floor cheap floppy pads or even the foam-filled puffy (but still squishy) pads, an inch might be higher than you think. So after a few sessions of thinking I had this thing (and myself) broken in, a moment of distraction was all it took for my foot (while wearing shoes) to wander just a little too far to the left, my weight to be trying to rest on the wrong foot at the wrong time, and my ankle to go sideways in probably the most painful sprain I’ve ever experienced, though admittedly I don’t sprain my ankle terribly often.

After a little over a month I finally felt recovered. I returned to the pad again to see if I could get back into it. What I found was that the fear of the same thing happening again was just too distracting to focus on, let alone enjoy, playing the game. So I finally set out to do something about it.

Four planks of poplar and some screws have done the trick nicely to put a frame around the pad, giving me 5.5 inches of “oh my foot is hitting the frame I should adjust before I wound myself again” buffer. Managed a full session of testing without issue and it did help me catch myself straying farther than I should once or twice. I didn’t even get any splinters!

Need to sand this down and get some wood finish to prevent this from warping horribly at some point, but it looks like I’m back in the game.