song, you are my WW inspiration!
I have been using / replacing the same tire on my 20" for the last few years…the stock tire that comes with the Equinox, the Cyko Lite. Lately, I have been focusing primarily on learning wheel walking during practice sessions. I have been practicing on grass and going up a very slight incline. That requires applying a fair amount of force from my feet against the tire. So, considering that there is little finesse to my method, I’m not suffering from the problem you’re describing. When it takes only a tiny bit of push to perform the wheel walk, though, such as on a smooth surface, I can see how the grip of the tire could factor in. Also, maybe when going down a hill…
Today I had a breakthrough while wheel walking. Instead of looking in the direction I was traveling, I spent the whole time looking at what my feet were doing. Using this method, on three consecutive attempts I achieved a personal top-10 distance wheel walking, and one of those attempts was my longest ride yet. My guess is that, in the learning process, it was beneficial to look ahead for visual clues about the horizon, but after enough of that kind of practice, I could focus on my feet without looking ahead. Watching my feet seemed to help a lot with steering and with slowing down when I was getting too fast.
The other day I had another WW breakthrough. I realized I wasn’t breathing, realized that the difficult act of wheel walking was making me hold my breath. If I exhaled deeply within the first couple seconds of the wheel walk, that helped me relax and stay on longer.
Another WW breakthrough was learning to WW sitting perched on the back of the seat. I am able to achieve this posture by mounting from a one-footed still-stand directly into the wheel walk. Soon I will start practicing transitioning from normal riding into the WW, and in order to sit on the back of the seat, I’ll make the transition to the WW with both hands on the front of the seat.
I still haven’t successfully transitioned back to the pedals, but I have a strategy for trying it. I’m going to stop flailing my arms long enough to return them to holding the seat. In that position, the transition back to the pedals should go more smoothly and help me avoid a bad fall.
I went out the other day on my 24". Near the end of my ride, I attempted some WWing. I found it much harder (could hardly do it at all), because on the 24" I had to hold my legs much higher, more bent at the knee. Makes me wonder what a 16" would be like for WWing. Seems like the legs would be even straighter than they are on the 20", which would help, I assume.
What is blowing my mind about wheel walking is all the parallels I’m finding between WWing and learning to unicycle as a complete beginner…particularly the amount practice time it has taken to learn.