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Existentialism-- Just a bloody good excuse to go riding...


This is actually my somewhat garbled notes from the last few make sense out of why this page exist. go back to the main blog article E.flections.

1 Jun 2015
Need to go back to the float zone tomorrow nite. Been reading forward on the lessons but till now my lifts generally have a tendency not to be high enough. Front keeps dropping.. pretty much useless or impossible to get on further I think
Able to get up to 10 pedal strokes at some point. Problem come in when anticipating to “balance” upon lift. Always get back to basic- Lift and brake a few times, do nothing more than that…to warm up to the feel and recall the first few initial lessons. 
Most time front is still  just too low. It isn’t the fear of rolling out and needing to jump off the bike.. been doing that for 30 years.. Somehow something fundamental is just not being done right….

Breathing out before executing a lift off helps somewhat.
Also to counter those immediate turning upon lifting, usually its twisting of bar to the left in my case. (Leftie with a more powerful right hand???)

Improvise Gripping...
Mediate by grabbing with right thumb pointing to left side. Effectively gives only a 3 finger grip with a bit of friction from the thumb but minus actual thumb gripping. Index finger on brake lever not affected.. still able to tap brake fluidly.

Holding with both hands more inwards gives better control.

2 Jun 2015
A lot for today… at first it was pretty frustrating. As usual right off the bat, tried to lift and go for as long as possible…the harder in trying the less things work out. Like previous nites.. just went back to concentrating on the lift.
1-2 and 2-3 pedal strokes. Focus. Breathe. Attention to braking finger.

Warmed Up…
Remembered--  tonite aim was to get more in tune with the float zone. Earlier distraction came in thinking about handlebar turns and using legs and ankles to balance….   Declutter. Declutter Declutter
More basic stuff… Hand positions. Recall last nite a trick to balance the power in both arms more uniformly was to have a different grip on each hand
Grip is as far in to bar as possible. "shorter" bar gripping Wrist flexion-- forms a straight smooth line with forearm and wrist point forward.. this and the inner gripping on bar help with better control when front is up. less turning to the sides and can leave the mind more to focus on the legs and pedaling.

Only when tired then right thumb falls back into an underhand grip.

One other thing was obvious— rotating wrist (flexion + supination) a little help arms to be straight after lift-off. But too tense and it becomes another issue on its own—too rigid to react. This affects the braking coordination the most.. kinda retarded response in the index finger

Wrist positions like this is pretty much when pulling my most forceful bunny hops or railing berms at speed in the smoothest manner… Need to remember. It works but need more fin tuning for the wheelie lift.

With arms and hands under “control” like this- more no. of lifts were straight off to a better balanced start and subsequent control. This together with holding bars inner helped to drive the lift higher when necessary with the second pedal stroke.. -- well sometimes it works sometimes not… so there is a marked improvement but still not 100% of the time. Need to think… what else?

Until tonight--  more than 90% of the time was a matter of pedaling too fast. Front goes low and down it goes…

But ½ way through—suddenly can feel a slower pedaling. Controlled.
Not every attempt achieved the same but more and more and each time it happened—the “in the zone” feeling was reinforced even if not many lasted more than 4-6 pedal strokes.. what counts was the control during those pedaling moments.

Few times tried to get this together with thinking about going further—but that becomes too much. Such attempts mostly became an exercise in max pedal count as front race towards the ground once again. Hands and grip focus were all lost.

Rest—back to basics again.. Just focus on trying to pedal at normal speed now which is approx. 60% that of the "guinea pig in a ferris wheel" motion. Feeling the engagement as each stroke drives the bike forward and the sensation of overcoming the dead spot in the crank in each revolution. Pedaling too fast (I think) comes mostly in overpowering this dead spot where mind may subconsciously be thinking if not enough power is applied—the cranking motion will be stuck.

As pedaling rate increase... there is a tendency to forget where the hands are and keep looking down on the wheel which only makes things worse.. Drop faster.

Then back to focus on leaning back more as pedaling rate drops.
This would be the next coordination needed to nail in order to stay in the float zone longer I think… 

Few tries – had lower back arched hence upper body pushes forward as wheel got higher and tried leaning back… when coordinated properly—there certainly is more in there. But muscle memory for such moves and positions are just not there yet. Again need more coordinations.

Tml nite.—Warm Up. Start with focus on slower pedaling. Next move on to coordinate.

Halfway thru—got on concrete back to grass—controlling speed of pedaling definitely easier despite the uneven grass… Tml go back to Quarry area for better practice grounds.

3rd Jun – Nothing works in tonite practice—it was like back to Day Zero. Absolutely frustrating. Just hope tml will somehow be better. Screw it.. just went a few hard laps around the firehouse to sweat it out…

4th Jun -  Magic! Warm up, lift 1-2 pedal strokes and brake it down. Not long before it was back in those short 2-4 strokes lift but in the float zone. Increase in the attempts where the pedaling was controlled. Can actually feel the pedal/foot to crank resistance while moving… Good contact feedback. 

Then more “float zone” feel with more pedal strokes. Was even able to lift back up at times when front started falling. Best controlled feel with these was actually to just throw the bodyweight back from the shoulder. Control core to prevent unnecessary movement.

Break 5—recall butt contact surface with seat. Made one final adjustment 5mm back and ~2 degrees nose down –now seat is just about parallel. Got on, lift a few more…Perfect.
Then it started to go downhill a little from here… more attempts were getting sidewind right after lifting. Checked hand position. All as per what feels optimal and I notice somehow all the bad vibe seems to start from the leg. Also more so if the body is bending forward a lot during the lift.

Seems like when taking the approach with favored foot at 1 o’clock position is actually the problem now. Both legs are bent. Lift off and balance gets worse on many nites as fatigue sets in and harder to get into that effortless lift off feeling and difficult to lift high enough.

Bent legs and body bend forward—equals a lot of unnecessarily movement even if the leg is generating power for the lift.

Past few nites I had a few good easy controlled lift off when favored leg was actually at 11-12 o’clock position. Leaned against a wall and just checked out of curiosity.

Realized that when foot to push down is at 11-12 o’clock, the leg on the other side is locked straight—knees lock and slightly pressing backward… Seems to act like a counter force against any unwanted lateral movements.
Rode off and YES! The attempts were almost all perfect in the lift + first 2-3 strokes and HIGH.. it steps right into the float zone and if the first pedal stroke was not sufficient, the follow up easily lift it to the zone….

Normally by this time about 30-40 mins after each nite practice—things will wane and just become harder.. Not tonight. Last 20-30 attempts all executed smoothly, “effortless” and finally wheel height is right about there. Can feel that be it 4-6 or those longer 8-12 pedal strokes… the lift off has been fine tuned to get into the key things :-
Lift, Balance, Sufficient Height, “in Zone”—all within the first second or so.

Think I have been struggling on this even before getting into the float zone. The first one second with so much that is needed to be coordinated is crucial in anything that follows.. It’s literally from the fingers to the toes and every muscle and position in the joints used in between for the perfect execution of the move. Gonna coin this the “All-In-1 Second” zone. Need to remind self every time before attempting a wheelie.

Followed by a sense of control as pedaling speed is a controlled affair rather than racing to meet the ground. All of a sudden, the anticipation of wanting to go for max pedal stroke is gone…can just feel a longer more sustained wheelie will shortly be coming.
Looking back at the video in Day 7 lesson.. I can also recall on a number of attempts tonight where my wheelie was in some instantaneous stationary position while finding the balance within the zone. Definitely feels right and good during those attempts.. Also a number of time together with these stationary instances—the control to pull wheel up or just drop it a tad was there as well…[Mental Image : Rocking Chair but rocking only ever so slightly]
Brakes control—no big issue to tap and go down with conscious effort. However modulating brakes is probably still some way off. Hands on lever all the time—Ok no issue but brain to finger reaction—maybe about 95% of the time successful. 

Eyes.. the best coordination on this part to work with the rest seems to be "trying to look down the nose" past the front wheel to what's just ahead... There is not much peripheral vision.. But seems to work as to gaze in such a way, the head/ neck is sort of locked. Thereby restricting unnecessary lateral movement. Also this lock automatically helps lean and "lock" up at the shoulder without conscious effort to control the shoulder..

Seems to work but still not very used to this.. more practice needed.
(Thoughts:  tricks with one ton of coordination-- need to minimize and simplify as much as possible)

Tomorrow —one final practice to nail all the things figured out these past few nights and get more aligned with the float zone before moving on.

Pre lift-off Checklist..
  • Hand postion
  • Wrist Position
  • Legs start off position
  • The Gaze

Yes, even manage to set camera on timer and pull off this shot tonight.

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