The Pleasure of a Training Partner
I just got back from the Chicago wheel weekend, (obligatory plug, it happens bi-yearly. If you like wheel, you should be there; some of the best wheel coaches in the world will be). While in Chicago I had the pleasure of rolling around with a lot of my favorite wheelers and it reminded me how important a good training partner can be. Training is inherently a very solitary path: it’s all about you acquiring new skills/technique/strength; and having someone who is also going through this process is immensely helpful. If you spend too much time training by yourself, you can start to lose sight of the progress you are actually making. Also, there is nothing better than some friendly competition to drive you to progress faster. Now this is all well and good, but this weekend reminded me that there are a lot of specific benefits because of the way German wheel works.
I don’t know if you know this, but German wheel is a Giant circle 😉 Now you move this circle by shifting your weight from side to side. The wheel is always rolling the heaviest part towards the ground. This means that pretty much every dynamic trick has a fast part as you push the wheel down and then a slow part as the wheel lifts you back up. However if you have, for example, another person who can be counterbalancing you, it is possible to do a trick that would normally be quite fast at a consistent and leisurely pace. For example, there is a trick called “layout forward” where you lay with your back against the boards and the wheel rolls all the way around. This is a very safe trick, but it acquires a lot of momentum, which is the scariest part. However, if you have another person lying on the other side of the wheel (between the bar handles) the weight is now dispersed evenly across the wheel and the trick slows to a more manageable and controlled speed.
There is, of course, one caveat (at least one…Always make sure you pick your training partners with care). There is a potential for “exciting” new situations to arise when two people are on one wheel. When it’s just you in the wheel, you are the only source of movement affecting the wheel. However, when you have a second weight source, that all changes. If your partner falls off, or jumps on, or even just moves unexpectedly the dynamic of your movement is going to change immediately. Also, depending on where exactly the weight is, it is possible to turn a slow trick into a VERY fast one. So be careful and take your time, think through anything new you are going to try out. When in doubt, grab a third person to spot while you are both inside.
So that friend you have that is on the fence about wheel, get them to come check it out. That training partner can make your training cheaper, safer, more productive, and most importantly, more fun!