Wheel walking

Is it possible to learn to walk the wheel with a 20" wheel? I can ride with one
foot now and am looking for a greater challenge.

I am 5’ 10" and have size 8 (UK) feet (that’s 10.5" long), should it matter.

How big is the arc of a wheel that is usable for pushing with the feet? At
the back you are limited by the frame, and at the front by the wheel becoming
too steep to tread. Call it a quarter of the full wheel, which is probably
too generous.

By my calculations a quarter of a circumference of a 20" wheel is
15.7". A 24" wheel would give you 18.8". I.E. not long enough for two feet
aligned straight ahead. Therefore do you angle your feet in in a pigeon-toed
style to get your two feet on the wheel at the same time?


P.S. How many unicyclists in the world do you think can ride one footed? (I feel
the need to brag!)

Re: Wheel Walking

I think my first response to this subject ended up being a private response back
to Beirne. I will try to make it public this time.
> I’m just starting to learn wheel walking. I’m holding on to a ranch-style rail
> fence, and scooting along. I’m holding on with both hands, which I think is
> bad, but I haven’t been able to break myself of it yet.

You’re right, holding the fence rail with both hands will definitely hold you
back. Your shoulders will bend toward the fence making it quite difficult to
go straight.

> Before I spend to much time, though, I have a question. Since I have both 20"
> and 24" unicycles, which one should I learn with? The 24" model provides more
> room on the wheel, but my legs are a bit cramped. I haven’t tried it with the
> 20" model yet, but I’m expecting my feet to bump into each other too much,
> although I will have more legroom. Which one will I learn on faster?

I don’t think it matters. You can learn on whichever uni you practice on. I ride
both sizes but mostly my 20". Learning wheel walking was equally difficult no
matter which wheel size I used.

Some tips:

  1. Use the full length of your foot.

  2. Place your toe (not the middle of your foot) on the tire first.
    3.5 Use the top of the tire, not the sides.

  3. Push the wheel down the center length of your sole all the way to the heel.

  4. Don’t take your foot off when you reach your heel, hold your heel on the
    tire while you continue to extend your leg. This makes room on the tire for
    your other foot.

  5. If you did 4. correctly, you have plenty of room to place your other foot
    starting from the toe coming straight in line with the tire.

  6. Have someone watch you, usually a person has a lazy foot. The lazy foot
    has a mind of it own and won’t align straight with the wheel unless you
    think about it.

  7. I don’t think you should look at the tire yourself. Others disagree.

  8. We have had lots of discussion on how straight one should sit up. Bending
    at the waist allows you to vary the bend and give you front to back
    balance. This is a mandatory skill for coasting. Some of the experts in our
    club sit straight up and other bend some.

  9. Try going along a wall or bleachers until you get the leg and foot action
    nailed. Then get out and try it. One or two spotters can also help.

  10. Make sure your seat height isn’t too short. Too many riders are trying to
    ride with seats 1.5 inches too low. (This commentary applies to riding in
    general not just ww.)

                Come up smiling, Bill Gilbertson (aka: Old Fart)

Re: Wheel Walking

I agree 100% with the post by Mr. Fart. Avoid looking at the wheel (though you
probably have to in the early stages of learning), and sit up mostly straight.
Even while sitting up straight, you can still bend your torso in either

Keep your nose off the floor, unicycle@aol.com

Re: Wheel Walking

In a message dated 95-10-18 12:32:01 EDT, Dirk Iwema wrote:

>Transition to riding: {from wheel walking}
>HELP. I have been trying this for a while now and can’t get it. If anyone has
>any tips on how to get back on the pedals, please post them. Not having anyone
>else around to give pointers for these skills is holding me back.

You may have figured this out by now, but then it might help someone else out
there. Keep your head level. That is, don’t point your nose at your chest and
watch the pedals, because this will take away from your overall balance.
Practice glancing down, very briefly, just enough to see where your pedals are.
With practice, you only need to do this once or twice before trying to get your
feet back down there.

Jumping ahead, here’s when and where to put your feet. I put my dominant foot
down to the pedal when that pedal is level and to the rear. This stops my wheel
in the safety position (pedals horizontal) and, if I can’t get my other foot to
the other pedal, gives me the control to dismount gracefully.

It’s scary stepping down from that wheel walk, especially if you’ve already
taken one of those nasty tail-bone landings that can happen if your feet get
swept out from under you to the front. I don’t recommend this. If scared, break
the skill down into smaller pieces. This is true for anything you do on the
unicycle. Practice stopping with the pedals horizontal and the dominant pedal in
the rear. Just stop and step off the unicycle. Then, practice stopping and
putting the dominant foot onto that pedal, followed by a controlled dismount.
Practice dismounting (controlled falling off) in every direction. This will
increase your safety in out-of-control falls you may have later. Once you know
how to fall off (dismount, that is), you will have a lot less to fear.

Back to glancing down at your pedals. One glance will tell you where those
pedals are. With practice, you will be able to take the necessary number of
wheel walking steps, and put your foot down on the pedal without having to look
again. In the beginning, you will have to look more, but try to reduce the time
you spend looking down. If the sun is low in the sky, you don’t have to look
anywhere except at your shadow!

If you try this, anyone, let me know how it turns out.

Stay on Top! John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone unicycle@aol.com

P.S. Hello Bierne, you are welcome to add this to the FAQ if it’s appropriate.

Re: Wheel walking

In a message dated 96-02-25 05:58:33 EST, you write:

>Duncan Castling has asked me if I could ask:
>When wheel walking is it better to move the feet fast or slow?

Depends how fast you want to go! :slight_smile:

The problem with wheel walking is that it is a lot slower than regular riding,
so you have to be more sensitive to your balance. Move your feet too fast and
they will knock into each other and foul up your rhythm. Move too slow and it’s
harder to balance. Most people when learning are going at about walking speed
or slower.

My number one advice to people learning is to use the whole foot, from toe to
heel, rolling each one down the tire, and leave at least a couple of inches
between your feet so they don’t bump each other. Take your time.

If it’s too easy, try it backwards!

John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone Wheel Walk speed record holder, 1981-1992

Re: wheel walking

At 08:34 PM 9/28/97 +1200, Peter Bier wrote:

>Now the next step is how do I glide? Any tips? And how do you wheel walk
>standing up?
>I still need to work a lot on my one footed wheel walking but I have the idea
>of it. Any other ideas?

For gliding, keep up the one foot wheel walking. It is an extension of that. You
may find a natural tendency when one footing to let the tire slide a bit under
your shoe. At first this may seem scary, but it’s the thing you are looking for.

Start by doing it in short bursts, from wheel walking. Go down a driveway or
similar downhill surface that is not steep. As your foot gets more skilled, you
will find yourself being able to go farther. The non-gliding foot can stay on
the fork to help steady you on the unicycle. It’s important to have a good grip
with that foot.

Wheel walk standing up involves standing on the fork with one foot, and one foot
WW with the other. You have to get used to pinching the seat between your legs
while you do it.

Have fun,

John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone unifoss@calweb.com http://www.calweb.com/~unifoss/

“Never two tired”

Re: wheel walking


Thanks for the encouragement to those of us at the upper end of the age profile
of unicyclists. I think it is one of the hardest skills I’ve learnt and moving
from it seeming impossible to being succesful has been great fun. I can’t relax
as much as my kids, Tess(10) and Joe(8) or pick up new things as quickly as they
can but it’s good fun going out riding together and playing unihockey. I’m
working on idling and riding backwards at the moment. My aim is being able to
juggle while idling - I can manage it going forward !


Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com

RE: wheel walking

> Just a word of encouragement for others who are slow learners (I am 48 which
> may have something to do with it). I have been working on learning to wheel
> walk for the past 15+ months. Progress is

Good inspirational writing! It makes me think of the worries faced by “adults”
learning to ride or do tricks. By “adults”, I mean anyone who has passed the
30 barrier.

The 30 barrier is an invisible line we all pass somewhere around that age, after
which we start getting a lot more concerned about ‘what will happen to us if we
fall?’ A legitemate concern when wheel walking, BTW. Beware of the dread
tailbone landing if your feet get away from you! It explains why it’s so easy
for kids & teenagers to pick up the skills we older folks had to work so long
on. Yes, I admit I learned most of my skills before 30. I also notice new ones
are slower to come when I work on them these days.

> I wasn’t too worried about it; just figured that I would eventually be able to
> do it when my control got good enough. So I just keep

This is advice all learners of new skills should heed; if you’re practicing on
your own (no coaches or people to watch), just keep plugging. Or buy a video if
it contains the right stuff to help you.

> My long range goal is still to learn how to glide. I want to be able to go
> down those hills without pedaling!

It will come. Try one foot wheel walking, and get used to sliding your foot
back. Soon you can reduce it to just the sliding part…

> --Scott, Jody, Vjera, Luke, Hope, Thad, and Simon Arnold
[i]> o o o o o o 7 unicyclists, Lane County, Oregon /[]\ /[]\ /[]\ /[]\ /[][/i]
> /[]\ o (Simon can finally do it)
> |\ |\ |\ |\ |\ |\ /[]\ E-mail: jodya@efn.org
> O O O O O o o http://www.efn.org/~jodya/jodya.html

(but take it easy and don’t lose your heads!)

Stay on top,

John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone http://www.unicycling.com

RE: Wheel walking

> - is there any benefit (besides the feeling of accomplishment and bilateral
> learning) of learning to come out of wheel walking and put my right foot on
> the pedal first instead of my left foot? Similarly, is there any benefit in
> being able to start wheel walking with either foot?

I think the main benefits are the ones you mentioned above. Another one I can
think of applies to performers, especially if you have to move fast and possibly
keep up with music for your choreography. You’ll be more flexible and solid.
Watching Anthony Gatto juggle on stage, as I did the other day, shows the
benefits of learning tricks solidly on both sides!

> - when learning to wheel walk one footed, should I try and do two short pushes
> with the same foot, or a normal long push followed by a quick return and
> another long push?

To learn it well, you’ll want to be comfortable doing both. But I think short
pushes are easiest when learning. Try 'em all though.

Stay on top, John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone http://www.unicycling.com

“Wheel size matters” - Kevin (Gilby) Gilbertson

Re: Wheel walking

> My number one advice to people learning is to use the whole foot, from toe to
> heel, rolling each one down the tire, and leave at least a couple of inches
> between your feet so they don’t bump each other. Take your time.

Seems to be working, I was watching him last night and he nearly had it, I think
he managed about three to four feet with out the wall…

Good going for one night’s work i thought.(Clever bugger…)

///////////////////////\ Balls-up! : Homepage at :
http://www.ncl.ac.uk/~njugsoc/ E-mail on : balls@ncl.ac.uk Juggle on :
forever… ///////////////////////

Re: wheel walking

“Foss, JohnX” wrote: …
> The 30 barrier is an invisible line we all pass somewhere around that age,
> after which we start getting a lot more concerned aboutmailbox:/C|/Program
> Files/Netscape/Users/liz_burrows/mail/Unsent
> Messages?id=371E39E3.42449781%40xtra.co.nz&number=2 'what will happen to us if
> we fall?’ A legitemate concern when wheel walking, BTW. Beware of the dread
> tailbone landing if your feet get away from you!

> Stay on top,
> John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone http://www.unicycling.com

Age 35


Just recovering from 2 weeks off after the dread tailbone landing while learning
to wheel walk.