Slacklining

20120312:
I've tried to learn once before. It was very brief. I think it was some time last Fall. Anyhow, I stood on the slackline with my left hand on Sven's shoulder and the foot on the slackline wavered a bunch. Today, he repeated his introduction and I did the same. I don't remember how the line was last time, but this time I was practicing on a 2" slackline, set not a foot higher than my waist. Afterwards, I had some time to practice trying to get up on my own. At first I was afraid of falling, but after trying a couple times and never face planting, I realized it wasn't bad at all. The instability of trying to get up is somewhat like getting a boost up a wall from a friend. You might not go straight up the first few times, but in general you'll land on you're feet. I never once balanced on the slackline, but I would hop up and be able to stand for just fractions of a second longer each time. Possibly reaching a second or two on my last try.

I had heard Sven describe the various pointers enough times that as he was taking down the longer line, I was running through the introduction to a girl who wanted to try. With her hand on my shoulder, I got her up and going across the line. Yay! One interesting fact was her intuition to try and hold my hand as opposed to my shoulder. I kept saying shoulder, shoulder, until I just decided to move her hand and place it there. From there, her intuition was just to more or less have me hold it there, until two or three steps in, she finally adjusted to a more stable grip. Of course, I have no idea regarding recommended teaching techniques, I simply find it interesting. In contrast, I held Sven's shoulder with a stable grip, but he didn't hold my hand down for stability. In fact, at times it felt like he was trying to veer away, almost like raising the training wheels on a bicycle or removing the supporting hand slightly from the seat to give the learner what it feels like to maintain stability on his/her own.

Step 1:
Bring the line down, dominant foot on the line. Let's say right foot. The right foot should be close to the right butt. Tucked as close as possible. Left foot is still on the ground. Bringing the left thigh to the line.

Step 2:
Get up in a dynamic motion. Like a dyno in rock climbing. Of course, when beginning, it's useful to hold onto someone's shoulder with your left hand.

Step 3:
Balance on that dominant foot. Arms are straight out to your sides and the left leg is off to the side as well. The right foot will probably begin to waver. Pick a point straight ahead and focus on it. Focus on not wavering until the wavering stops. The main reason for it is that your muscles are too weak to handle this sideways motion. It's just not something they've done. Anyways, when you've stabilize, take a step forward and repeat with the other foot.

Sven says if one were to try everyday for a week, he/she would probably accomplish the walk. I was originally gonna travel during spring break, but maybe I'll spend part of it learning to slackline.

20120319:
Yay! More slacklining! I'm considering this my second day trying to slackline. Today I come out wearing my Vibrams and Sven just sets up a 1" line somewhere on the Freshmen Quad. We go there, because the campus gardeners have placed fresh mulch around the trees on the Upper Quad and so it would smell if he set up on the trees there.

So today, Sven helps out by sitting somewhere along the center of the line. When he was gone to get food, I just focused on pushing down on the line and trying to stabilize. I tried standing up on the line a couple times, but mostly I tried this stability exercise. I did this for both the left and the right. It was especially important to do it for the left foot on the line, which was more unstable than placing the right foot on the line. With Sven sitting on the line, I initially tried to stand and balance with little success. After perhaps five tries, he observed that I was always falling off to the left (when starting on my right foot on the line), and explained the reason for this was that I was off-balanced from the start. After he told me this, I overly tried to counter by going to the right. It helped, as eventually, I would go up and enter a more balanced state.

I was also under the impression that the muscle either builds quickly or learns quickly. The line would shake less and less as I practiced more and more. I gladly watched Sven take his turns and do his tricks, because that was my time to rest. Again, I would begin each attempt by first pushing down and ensuring stability. Breathing in and out. Focusing straight ahead.

It's tempting to lower the body before coming up, but at some point I decided this would give extra instability to the system. So it's better to push down on the line with the foot, but keep the back fairly straight. So that the motion from other foot on the floor to off the floor requires minimal rising. I suppose my goal was to minimize giving the line extra force.

The hands should be out and move up and down in the plane perpendicular to the line. Take advantage of the angular momentum.

Eventually, I reached a point where I could balance for several seconds at a time. I felt so comfortable that I moved to what I felt to be the next step, moving the free foot from it's side position and placing it onto the line. Sven had the following advice: when placing the next foot down, first it should come and contact, then swivel and place. This avoids missing the line, which can end poorly.

He also mentioned at this point that there's balancing, 1 step, and then walking the line. There's really no in between. That makes the learning curve somewhat like juggling. You can juggle none, then 2, then 3, then 6, then 50, then 100. And it makes sense. Once you get the basic balancing down, then you "simply" have to re-balance in between steps. In juggling, once you get the basic pattern down, then you "simply" have to repeat that pattern.

20120320:
[20120322]
I wrote: "About 14 steps! Nearly crossed the line. Key for me was bending my knee a bit to lower my center of gravity. Also arms straight out. Getting up is easy now." 5:04 PM

I had to wait for Sven to come and show me how to use the device that tightens the line. Otherwise I could have started slacklining at around 3. I probably slacklined between 1.5 to 2 hours today. Before Sven called it a day, he said that I'd probably be able to walk the line tomorrow. I think that made me determined to walk the line by the end of the day. Goal achieved, if not entirely then at least partially. I'll try to upload the video.

Of course, I was practicing on the 2" line, so it was much more stable than the 1" line.

20120322:
I didn't slackline yesterday, because the weather was gloomy. I thought it would be the same today, but eventually the sun came out. I set up the line at around 3:45 PM. While Sven was there, I set it up on my own. Sven had arrived before I did and he set up the longer 1" line as well.

I wrote: "It takes about 14 steps to get across this 2" line. I can do about the first quarter of the long 1" line, the portion where its more stable. Also learning to turn. A couple of successful attempts." 6:09 PM

I wrote: "I can sometimes get about halfway on the 1" line. It's easier to turn on the 1" line. Two turns on occasion. On one attempt, I was able to go down the 2" line, turn and walk the length back. I'm improving my ability to walk backwards. I was able to land jumping from the ground to the slackline on one or two occasions." 7:01 PM

I wrote: "Played Frisbee with Sven on the 2" line. At first he threw it to me while I was on the line. Then I threw it to him while he was on the line. He was transitioned to sitting. Then I got on and we threw and at one point I lost balance and he fell off. Then we both stood on the line and threw it a couple times. I tried to jump while on the line one or two times. Not too successful. I should probably continue to practice jumping onto it first." 7:14 PM

3.5 hours is a lot of slacklining!

20120328:
[20120514]
I wrote: "Narrow is better. Rule of thumb: never more than 90 degrees. Less than 60 degrees." 20120329 8:12 PM

9/16" line attached to dowel.

So Sven helped me thread the small (9/16") line through the large (1") line. He taped the small line to a wooden towel and uses a pair of pliers to hold the larger line in place. Then he shows me how to move the dowel along the line. Scrunch up the line along the dowel then pull the end of the dowel straight. That's the point of attaching the one end of the large line to the tweezers. Continue the process, making sure the small line threads through without any twists. It didn't take as long as I thought it would take to finish the job (less than 14 minutes worth of threading time).


After threading the line, Sven showed me how to set the system up. He mentioned the bit about the angles of the anchor points. The theory behind it is that the larger the angle, the greater the tension going into the anchor points. Thus, we want to minimize the tension. In general, the key so that the system remains well under the rated strengths of the components in the system. For now (20120514) I've been leaving the biners in the system, because I'm certain that I'm operating under safe tensions. However, I'm trying to research how to remove all metal from the system.

In any case, it was simply the two of us tensioning a 5 to 1 primitive system (4 biners form the pulley system), so after pulling, the line was decently tensioned. I practiced for just a bit, it'd have been a waste not to, before taking it down.

Half of the tensioning system.

Pictures I had taken reveal that Sven showed me how I would set up a multiplier with a Prusik.

One end of the multiplier.

Fortunately, Sven later set up his long line across a portion of the Beach and I set up his 2" line somewhere nearby. During the setup, I kept trying to open one of the gates and it wouldn't budge. I was worried and tried to get Sven's help. I ran through the configuration and couldn't figure it out. As such, I was afraid to crank the ratchet any further. Finally, when taking it down at the end of the day, I realized the problem was I used an aluminum carabiner at the fixed end instead of a steel carabiner. During the setup, I also ran into the problem of a component in the ratchet twisting out of place. After inspecting the ratchet, I was able to pull the component, because it was spring-loaded, and position it back into place. A lot of people in the department tried walking on the 2" line and some other people as well. A senior faculty member who slacklines also came out, first standing in the center of Sven's line, and later taking his turns on the 2" line. I tried getting on Sven's long line, which first requires pulling oneself up and sitting on the line. Still learning, I wasn't able to go from sitting to standing.

20120421:
[20120503]
I set up my line next to Sven's line. Quite a number of people walking around due to Spring Fair and we got a number of people trying the lines.

[20120530]
I wrote: "Slackline today was good. Sven had his new pulleys on. I could go one length down his line. Turning on his line seemed easier. It really helps to have multiple people pull my line tight." 5:16 PM

20120424:
[20120530]
Today Sven made the multiplier system portion of my setup self-frictioning. A self-frictioning set-up can be seen in the video below. Unfortunately, my main line is threaded and therefore too thick to put into a self-frictioning set-up and get any mechanical advantage.



20120503:
Today I came out on my own and slacklined for a little under an hour. The setup took a while. Mainly because I was playing around with how to tighten the line. It is amazing how much leverage you can get. For the most part, I went with the setup Sven showed me last time: using the small line with a self-friction setup. I ran the small line in a self-friction setup similar to a video I saw online, though probably a little different. The line has a loop in the end, so I run that through the second biner on the anchor end. It runs down to the biner which is attached to the Prusik. Then to the third biner on the anchor end. Back to the biner at the Prusik and tucked under the original loop. Then I'm ready to tug. Thus tugging is easy business. But resetting the system takes some time. I should figure out an easier way to do that. Of course, I can consider putting the original line in a self-friction setup. Then resetting the multiplier would be easy. Though without putting the original line in a self-friction setup, taking the line down is easy.

1) I tried balancing on the line with foot and opposite hand. Tried it both ways. Quite difficult.

2) Aside from the setup, I was working on going from standing to, the back feet hooked on the line. I seemed to get that down. The next step would be trying to sit or going to two feet being hooked. I tried those a bit but that didn't work out too well.

3) I also worked on going from sitting to standing. With my right leg on the line and right butt cheek on the line, and left foot extended straight out, close to being parallel to the ground and parallel to the line. I couldn't have it hanging down since then my foot would touch the ground. But it turned out, it helped move my center of balance forward and easier to get over the right foot. It was definitely doable with the right foot already close to the the right butt cheek. But if I decided to start with that right foot further away, then scooting the two closer together was nontrivial.

4) I practiced jumping onto the line several times, but wasn't doing too well today. Though a main obstacle is that the line is just one inch and possibly more slack, making it harder to jump onto than the two inch line pulled tight with the ratchet.

5) I practiced bouncing on the line. I sit down and just bounced using my feet to push off the ground and held my hands on the line. I sort of got the feeling of how the bouncing motion should be, but even this movement isn't easy as pie. At one point I put too much bounce in and went backwards over the line. Of course, my line was set rather low and this wasn't a big deal.

6) Throughout the hour I also practiced turning. I think turning is harder when the line is more slack. I mainly think this because I can do it fine on Sven's one inch and successful at a higher rate than when on my line today and my line in the past. After the turn, there is a moment of instability which is harder to correct than on a tighter line. I have yet to practice my counter-clockwise.

20120507:
[20120610]
I wrote: "I was practicing my (clockwise) turn. Increased the frequency of success. I sent the line once. Yay! (sent once = down turn down) Tried to continue the next lap backwards but failed."
I wrote: "I was also working on walking backwards and balancing with my eyes closed."


20120511:
[20120613]
I wrote: "Sven's 1" line, my line, someone's Gibbon line, and Sven's 2" line are set up in the area. Three people pull my line tight without the extra multiplier. I walk one way down Sven's 1" line, which is tight relative to my weight. I found part of the key is to keep moving despite the swaying line. I was almost able to turn around." 6:58 PM

I wrote: "Later, the person with the Gibbon line left and Sven tied a rodeo line in it's place. The rodeo line was hard. I could sit on it, but not stand. Sven on the other hand stood on it with ease (or so he made it look)." 7:48 PM

20120517:
We were going to slackline today but the campus arborist came by and told us we weren't allowed. In addition to concern for his trees, he cited liability issues.

Thus, we'll have to go through hoops to figure out how to keep slacklining on campus. Either enforcing sufficient protection for the trees or perhaps getting setting up secure poles in the gym or outdoors for lines.

The following video is relevant:


[20120613]
I wrote: "He mentioned buying cambian savers to protect the trees and said to avoid buying cheap products. He also mentioned the Cobra system. He estimated the Cobra kit to be around $500. I'm thinking, 'Oh man! Is this guy for reals!?!' We'll talk to dean. Detemine protection. Damn, I was looking forward to slacklining today." 2:41 PM

I think the arborist must have misunderstood what slacklining is or isn't, because later I looked up the Cobra system and that system was composed of rope and other unnecessary gear. The only gear we'd need would be the expansion bands to evenly distribute the pressure points. The brochure description reads: "Expansion insert is installed inside the cable where it contacts tree to reduce contact pressure." One website sold one band for 3.50 British pounds sterling (5.4425 US dollars). That website says "Inserted inside the rope, the expanding band flattens the rope, avoiding a 'pressure point' and gives even support to the limb." Instead of the tree covers we use, we could get a Cobra Anti-abrasion Cover. The same site says "This is placed as a covering sleeve over the rope to reduce risk of abrasion to the park. It is sold for 3.75 pounds (per meter) (5.8312 US dollars). Thus, buying one pair for each end of a slackline would only come to $22.5474. Note that Gibbon Slacklines Treewear normally cost $19.99, and currently selling for $16.04 on Amazon.com, though unfortunately it is quite short (1 meter).

To summarize, while the arborist's concerns were legitimate, his reasoning and suggestions were lacking.

20120602:
I was thinking about getting new gear and so first I thought I'd do inventory of what I currently have.

Main Line:
1x75'+ of 1" Military-Spec Tubular Webbing (Blue,17.8kN,11.75g/ft) threaded with BlueWater 9/16" Climb-Spec Tubular Webbing (RoyalBlue,9kN,12.8g/ft)
2x10' of 1" Black Slings (Note a 10' sling requires 20' of webbing)
1x29kN,7kN,8kN PETZL Am'D Locking Carabiner
1x20kN Omega Pacific Rappel Ring (Sven's)
4x18kN,7kN,6kN Black Diamond Aluminum Oval Carabiners (1244A)

Multiplier System:
1x18kN,7kN,6kN Black Diamond Aluminum Oval Carabiner (1244A)
1x18kN,7kN,7kN Black Diamond Aluminum Oval Carabiner (6179) (Sven's)
1x2' Red Prusik (Note a 2' prusik requires 4' of rope) (Sven's)
1x18" of BlueWater II Plus 7/16" Static Rope
1x25" of BlueWater 9/16" Climb-Spec Tubular Webbing

Extra:
1x4' Pink Prusik (Note a 4' prusik requires 8' of rope)

In the afternoon, after playing some catch, I set up my line between two volleyball poles. My friend helped me pull it tight. I reset it a little bit above waist high, as below waist high had the line touching the ground when I was in the middle. I played a little catch while on the line (my friend was off the line). I typically caught (glove in my left hand) the ball with my left foot on the line and the right foot off. I typically threw the ball (with my left hand) with my right foot on the line and the left foot off. At first I threw overhand, but it was much easier to throw underhand.

20120613:
[20120804]
I wrote: "Yesterday I slacklined on the blue line. I rigged a more efficient multiplier by placing the multiplier on separate anchor. This resulted in more line to pull before resetting." 20120614 3:39 AM PDT

20120616:
[20120804]
I wrote: "The blue line is about 25 feet across. The red line is about 17 feet across." 7:31 PM PDT

20120628:
[20120804]
I wrote: "Yesterday I slacklined. Josh came too. I continued practicing continuous turns and jumping. He was getting steps in and foot placement. I set the line somewhere between my upper thigh and my waist." 20120629 5:42 AM PDT

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