By Mike King
Walk the Wheel is one of those skills that simply looks fantastic to spectators.
Unfortunately, it can also take a lot of time to master.
April 14: Added some photos and descriptions of actions for climbing (crank or pedal) with seat out in front...
1. Here you want to approach the obstacle from the side with the seat out in front and in a stable hopping position.
2. Make your jump from about a foot beside the obstacle and thrust your body sideways toward it so that your momentum will help position your body above the obstacle without falling back down. Land on either the pedal and the crank or just the pedal and at the same time lower your upper body to help pull the unicycle higher and also remove your outside foot from the pedal and swing it backwards for balance so that you land solidly and end up in position 3.
3. Once you've landed, you can hold this position to regain your balance and get ready to hop up to rubber
4. Next unique to lean the unicycle in toward the obstacle by pulling in on the seat and at the same time bringing your outer leg back in above the pedal.
5. Then you push up with your inside leg only which will also rotate the wheel partly around and at this point you also get your outside foot back on the pedal.
6. Once airborne, you should have both feet on the pedals so that you can make a stable landing.
7. Then make several hops if necessary to regain your balance on top of the obstacle.
8. Then simply ride away!
There is a video to fully demonstrate this technique in the video section now as well. The link for it is SeatOutCrankClimbs.mpg
A couple of examples of some small crank hangs.
So here is my advice to learn pedal climbs (more or less in order):
- Learn to ride very well with the seat out in front
- Learn to hop under control with the seat out in front, you should also do this with only one hand holding the seat
- Practise side hopping with the seat out in front so you can feel the technique of landing on an obstacle from the side
- Don't attempt any pedal grabs or pedal climbs with the seat between your legs, it is much easier with the seat out in front. The reason for this is because as soon as the flat pedal rests on the obstacle, your uni will have a tendancy to sit straight up and down, but since the center of gravity on the uni is still over the ledge of the obstacle, you need to be leaning in over the obstacle to compensate your balace and center of gravity. This can only be done if you are off the seat and leaning inwards quite a ways. This was my biggest mistake for some time, I thought I could do pedal climbs on the seat just as I have done crank climbs. I was wrong... When I crank climb, I land on the pedal and the crank arm but I still lean the unicycle inwards so that my center of gravity above the seat is also above the obstacle which keeps me on it.
- Hop with the seat out in front directly beside the obstacle and start by practising to hop up and over to land the pedal (and only the pedal, no crank or bearings) onto the obstacle so that when you land the wheel is free to rotate around hanging by one pedal. It is important to lower your upper body when you land and to have your free arm out wide for balance. I also tend to lend only on one foot and my outside foot is dangling out beside for balance.
- If you can land the pedal grab and stay there balanced great, next is to learn how to climb up to rubber. If you are comfortable doing crank climbs, you can simply swing the uni up unto the crank, get on and jump up from to rubber but that does not look smooth and is not nearly as fun as a swinging pedal jump.
- I jump with my left foot forwards and I land on my right pedal. Once I'm balanced on the pedal, stand up but keep your legs bent enough for another small hop and swing the uni part way around to bring the pedals horizontal. At the same time as this short quick swing, get your free foot onto the outside pedal as you jump up and pull the uni underneath you. If you swing slightly past horizontal, the momentum of the swing will help you to hop the uni up high enough to clear the edge and land on rubber. Keep in mind you will land with the seat out in front and the hop is done as you swing the uni around. Since I prefer to land left foot forward, I swing the left pedal up around the front and I jump with my right leg. This lets the left pedal swing up and basically hit my left foot which is in place for landing the hop.
- Once on the obstacle, hop in place to get back onto the seat and ride away.
- It is a good idea to practise just the final hop by starting on the obstacle with the pedal so you can practise it until you get it without tiring yourself out as much. The jump to land the pedal should be the easy part, and it is practise to land the swinging hop that will take the time.
Anyway, I hope I was some help, I'll try to get some pictures of some pedal climbs when I get a chance and good luck with them...