Systematic approach to learning wheel walking and other stuff

I recently got some good advice and help from a professional juggler. I’ve
been trying to wheel walk for some time. I had no problem taking my feet
off the pedals, but would usually go 2 or 3 “strokes” and then dismount
forward. Here’s what he had me do.

He faced me, holding both of my hands for support. We observed on my 20"
that it took me 5 strokes to make one wheel revolution. So I would repeat
5 strokes over and over again. After each revolution, I would put my feet
back on the pedals. For each set, I would alternate the starting foot.
This was to avoid becoming one sided. After maybe 20-30 repetitions, I
could consistently do it on my own. I was quite amazed at what a
difference it made to have assistance in the form of a) physical support
b) the experienced observation, analysis and encouragement of a
professional.

This made me realize how I had not been putting much thought into skill
acquisition. So I started thinking of exercises which would lead to skill
building. Here’s what I came up with so far. A lot of this has to do with
making sure you can do any skill equally well with either foot. Can
anybody add to this?

Left foot only riding (Previously I could only do right foot)

  1. Make sure you can single-foot idle equally well with both feet.
    Practice variations like extending your free foot out horizontally.
  2. Mimic your dominant foot. Ride three revs with left-foot off the
    pedal, then two with left foot back on. Get a rhythm going by
    repeating the sequence over and over again. Then alternate with left
    and right foot off. Repeat this until you can take either foot off
    equally well. Once I got this, the rest was cake. I found with a few
    tries, I could do a figure eight on the left foot only. Cool.

Now I’m looking for exercises to improve my wheel walking. So far this is
what I have:

  1. Do one rev, go back on pedals, alternate leading foot (as above).
  2. Idle one foot, free foot resting on the fork. On each idle, just reach
    out with the free foot and tap the wheel. Once you feel comfortable
    with this, rest your foot on the wheel for a split second. When you
    feel strong with this, go to the next step below.
  3. "Idle with one foot on pedal, one on wheel. Alternate feet. This one
    seems really useful. It really helps get used to control the wheel
    with your foot, without the scary feeling you get when trying to ww as
    a beginner. It sort of feels like regular idling, except one foot is
    on the wheel instead of the pedal.

Does anybody else have other exercises which have helped get accustomed to
wheel walking?

How about hopping 5 times? (Lev 6) I can hop no prob, it’s the transition
to and from the pedals I haven’t really tried yet. Too chicken, and tire
of shin scars (yeah, I know, put on the pads).

Joe Merrill

Joe-

Thanks for the tips. WW and gliding are the next things I want to learn. I’m getting pretty good at strong foot one-foot even on irregular surfaces like uneven, sloping city sidewalks. Weak foot one-foot I’m not so hot at but I realize I have to get it down before WW. I’ll try it with an assistant first since you had so much success with it.

I’m glad that so many riders post their success stories because every so often we get one at exactly the right level and exactly the right time to help us advance.

“harper” <forum.member@unicyclist.com> wrote in message
news:a0qf84$tc$1@laurel.tc.umn.edu
> … Weak foot one-foot I’m not so hot at but I realize I have to get it
> down before WW.

Why? I began learning WW before I could even 1-foot idle (i.e. before I
found out how easy 1-foot idling is). I can still WW further than I can
strong-1-foot ride… (not very far :slight_smile:

Andrew xADF

Andrew-

How far is “not very far?” I can one-foot for about 200 meters or so before I get bored, tired, or too far away from a surface flat enough to keep from going up too steep of a hill. I frequently will go 50 meters and then for some reason bonehead it and step off of the pedal. Often, I will one-foot for a block, get back on the pedal to drop the curb (kerb for you?) hop back up the other side and start to one-foot again. The problem is that in Seattle it is likely that the next block is going to be too steep uphill to one-foot. I think if I had more of a heel on my shoe it would help with slipping off of the pedal for this particular skill.

> Weak foot one-foot I’m not so hot at but I realize I have to get it down
> before WW. I’ll try it with an assistant first since you had so much
> success with it.

Here is where I get confused, why do you have to get down one foot
before wheel walk? It seems to me that you dont really have to be able
to one foot at all before you try wheel walking. Max

> How far is “not very far?”

5 revolutions max. :slight_smile: I have a rounded crown… Must add a ziptie or
something at some point.

Andrew xADF

I can just say that from my experience lately, and the exercises I
mentioned, that wheel walking suddenly seems a heck of a lot easier for
me. If others manage to wheel walk before single footing, that’s cool too.

I can now go for about 3 city blocks with two dogs in tow on right foot
only. Left foot - I can only go maybe 1/2 a block. But my sense of balance
is much improved as a result of extensive single footing lately. Without
the aid of both feet on the pedals, your balance and concentration
improves a lot, so single foot both sides really improves your confidence.
This is great prep for wheel walking, and I would imagine, gliding.

Joe

> Weak foot one-foot I’m not so hot at but I realize I have to get it down
> before WW. I’ll try it with an assistant first since you had so much
> success with it.

Here is where I get confused, why do you have to get down one foot
before wheel walk? It seems to me that you dont really have to be able
to one foot at all before you try wheel walking. Max

So I finally took the time to work on weak-foot one-foot riding. I already had the idling down but, as I said earlier, it took my about 5 times as long to learn as strong-foot idle.

I found that it took me about 10 tries weak-footed to get my foot off the pedal and onto the crown and make 3 revolutions of the wheel which is what I consider to be a point just beyond inertia carrying you rather than riding. After about a half hour I would get 25 revs in one out of every three tries. By the time I quit, after an hour, I had a 65 rev (100 meter) ride in which I had to turn to find more level pavement.

I was on an asphalt school playground with a very slight grade. I practiced weak-foot downhill and then strong-foot back up the hill. It got to the point where I couldn’t remember which foot I was supposed to take off of the pedal so I was quite pleased.

Now I have to start trying out Joe’s WW tips.

>From: harper <forum.member@unicyclist.com>
>
>So I finally took the time to work on weak-foot one-foot riding. I
>already had the idling down but, as I said earlier, it took my about 5
>times as long to learn as strong-foot idle.
[snip]
>
>Now I have to start trying out Joe’s WW tips.

Nope. Not yet. First you need to learn the following one foot skills
Riding a figure 8 with the dominant foot; Riding a figure 8 with the weak
foot; One footed with the other foot extended; One footed backwards
riding; Figure 8’s while riding one footed backwards; Crank idling; One
footed seat out front with the other foot extended

Then you’ll be ready to start learning to wheel walk. :slight_smile:

This is all in an effort to slow down your learning progress so you don’t
end up learning to wheel walk before I do. :slight_smile:

I’m at about the same stage you are. I can ride one footed with either
foot at this point and I can do some sloppy turns. Soon it will be time to
work on wheel walking.

john_childs


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You’re just across the lake. Maybe we should get together and try Joe’s WW technique swapping roles as student and supporter/observer.

On Wed, 02 Jan 2002 23:10:45 -0800, “John Childs”
<john_childs@hotmail.com> wrote:

>Nope. Not yet. First you need to learn the following one foot skills
>Riding a figure 8 with the dominant foot; Riding a figure 8 with the weak
>foot; One footed with the other foot extended; One footed backwards
>riding; Figure 8’s while riding one footed backwards; Crank idling; One
>footed seat out front with the other foot extended
>
>Then you’ll be ready to start learning to wheel walk.
>
>This is all in an effort to slow down your learning progress so you don’t
>end up learning to wheel walk before I do.
Better watch out, or Harper will end up doing all of your suggested skills
before you do :slight_smile:

Klaas Bil

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