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I Want to Ride My Bicycle...

Posted by bartman, 30 September 2011 · 456 views

The "Tumble" or "Cartwheel" but more accurately called the "Travelling Bicycle" kite maneuver is an interesting thing to wrap my head around. This blog is more for my own mental clarification of the goal than to "teach" anyone anything or relate and interesting story. It gives some insight into how my mind works for those who care to know.

It looks like it should be simple. I've found it to be the most difficult move I've tried to learn since the inverted hover which I swore was the hardest thing to learn ever with the kite. In retrospect the inverted hover was a piece of cake! The "Traveling Bicycle" is the first move I have felt compelled to actually go out and attempt over and over to the exclusion of all other flying as I try to program my arms and hands in the necessary dexterity to make this work. Is my more focused practice working or is it a case of over doing it?

I think it is working in-so-much that the rough pattern has appeared and I've been able to repeat it in both directions whereas a week ago I could only manage one direction by fluke alone. I had no idea why it would work when it did work and no idea why it wasn't working either. I have improved on that somewhat since then.

I like to know why the kite does what it does it helps me learn. When I hover inverted then slide left or right I understand the physics of why the kite is behaving in that particular way at that particular time based on what my arms and hands are doing. When I do a stationary bicycle spin I understand how the sail is changing the hover orientation, based on my carefully timed inputs, in a balance that keeps it from wandering and essentially pinned in place as a bicycle wheel on its axle. Okay, it is pinned for a handful of skilled people and most of the rest of us contend with it being close to pinned but that's another blog entry for later.

With the travelling bicycle I'm missing most of the "why" but able to achieve some basic success on feel and existing skill alone. My brain isn't too happy not knowing it all though!

So for my non-kiting friends who are reading this (A few do, God only knows why) the trick here is to take that nice, rotating in place kite and move it, like a wheel, left or right while still rotating so it looks exactly like a wheel rolling along the ground. On the most basic level it combines the horizontal slide with the stationary spin.

In my mind, there are three obstacles:

Obstacle number 1 both of those moves require different inputs on the controls. The inputs do have similarities, however, so this move is technically possible. Obviously it is being done!

Obstacle number 2 timing. With the stationary spin timing is everything both to keep the kite in the air and to pin it in place, but not so much with the horizontal slide. Either way, combining the two requires considerable timing ultimately needing to be done on strictly muscle memory. There is no time to think out each control position even for the best of the best.

Obstacle number 3 visually to look correct and good two of the dynamics must be reasonably bang on. The first is the rotation speed vs. the travel distance (the distance cannot be much more or less than the circumference of the total number of spins or the wheel will appear to be slipping or stuck) and second the centre point of the kite cannot wander much from parallel to the ground or the travel will look bumpy. Errors on either also mess with the smooth flow which is messes with the visual requirement.

As I work on this very cool, but elusive move I find, as mentioned, that I can pull off a rough version of it and works most of the time. Most of the time means I do not need to reset my position or drive the kite into the ground. It does not mean that it meets the visual requirements all the time and usually it works better in one direction only such as left to right over right to left.

My hands haven't sorted out the inputs yet to smooth it out and sometimes I'll simply end up spinning in place or pulling the kite out of the sky for a bit of a bump on the ground. I had the same problem when trying to learn the stationary bicycle. My timing was off 180 degrees at times which had the affect of negating the hover and replacing it with driving towards the ground!

I find that sometimes it is easier to start with a stationary spin then add the horizontal movement. With my hands already pedaling properly the extra input to travel slips in a bit easier. Sometimes it is easier to start on the left and move right and other times the reverse is true. I'm beginning to think that the wind direction and speed plays a factor in that regard. I have had similar issues with the inverted slide working better in one direction over the other only to find the next time the opposite is true.

I also have noticed that most times my travelling has reverted back to a stationary spin is when the kite reaches the centre of the wind window. It has been easier to achieve the proper look while doing it off centre just to the right or left. I must also factor in being right handed as most flyers report that one side is always "weaker" than the other in their moves. All the more reason to double up on the weak side practice!

I haven't spent much time thinking about the third obstacle. I believe that just like my originally wobbly inverted hover things do smooth out with time and practice or even just general flying. All those little refinements make their way in without conscience effort on the flyers part all the time.

Now that I am at the rough stage of the move I can trust my existing knowledge will get me through the rest of it. Every successful pass will build the muscle memory further. Quite possibly one day will be a "Eureka" moment when I realize that somewhere along the line it all came together without me knowing it!

This is a new way of learning for me. I've always been able to think out the moves in advance and work with that knowledge. Not this time. I've had to use the already programmed basic building blocks on which all kite movements are based to puzzle my way through to this stage. I've had about five different opinions on how others do it however no one method has been the magic bullet for me. No instant "Eureka" moment on this one only more practice. Yeah, yeah, I get fully get the statement now, "Fly more. Think less."

In the meantime my mind needs to quiet itself and accept that it won't get to know first how to do this. Hmmm, it didn't even like commanding my fingers to type that!


In Decs 'team speak' just do it. Not that most of them can, of course, especially not in a synchronised manner... Arkright and Granville are our current calls!
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Check the 1st part of my movie Bart.

Maybe you like this example of the cartwheel :

@ 25 sec.

Greets and good luck training !!!Posted Image
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