Wednesday, 16 December 2009

I Learnt With Laurence!

I've always imagined there might be a few followers of this blog who also can't ride a bike. However, I never expected to find out about their personal stories, let alone for one of them to contact me.

Well, I was wrong, one girl who has been enjoying my blog for a while approached me and told me about her own experiences learning to ride. This is her story:


Tiffany Fletcher is 22-years-old and hasn't been near a bike for seven years!

Tiff told me: "When I was 4 I could ride a bike, it was a junior sized bike at nursery. However, one day when I was 8 or 9 I went to get on a bike and I just couldn't ride it... they say you never forget how to ride a bike. Well I did!

"For the next few years I managed to get out of biking situations, I used the 'I am a girl, I don't want to get dirty' line for years. It wasn't until I started dating that biking situations got more difficult to get out of.

"When boyfriends found out I couldn't ride a bike it became their mission to be the one to teach me, this usually ended up in an arguement because I am basically unteachable.

"I get so nervous that I'm going to fall off I usually start crying and beg them to never try to teach me again.... and I never normally cry over stupid stuff like that.

"Yet I have helped teach my nieces and nephew on tricycles by teaching them to pedal, but for me it just never happened...

"Learn With Laurence has made me realise that it really is a taboo subject and that by not learning how to ride a bike, we felt different from everyone else.

"But it is so good to know that there are other people on the same boat (or bike rather) like me. And with a little encouragement, and a push in the right direction, they could probably still learn to ride a bike too.

"Your blog is an inspiration because we follow you through every biking step you take, the falls and the tumbles and all the other pitfalls inbetween. I am just glad you had the guts to admit it."
Can you ride a bike? Are you learning with the help of my blog? Or just plain enjoying it?

Maybe I should think about making some 'I Learned With Laurence' T-Shirts... or would that be too cheesy?

Look out for some more learners sharing their stories soon!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Have A Wheely Good Christmas!

Ah don't you just love Christmas - the festive joy, togetherness and of course the presents.

Well this Christmas, my house took part in our third annual secret Santa at university and as you may have read on my Twitter - I have received my awesome present early!

Coach Woodward was my secretive gift giver this year and has given me a cool pair of Oakley gloves to help me with my biking. He had to give me my present early, so I had the chance to use them before the deadline for my blog.

                                 My snazzy new gloves

Apparently they will help keep my hands warm, help my grip and combat the pain I get in my thumbs from gripping the handle bars too hard.

But most importantly they have lime green on them - my favourite colour!

Look out for another post soon as I try out my new gloves.

The Box Technique

Apparently you need a licence to ride a bike. A flaming licence, as if going through all of this hassle wasn't enough I have to get a piece of paper from 'The Man' so I can ride my bicycle.

Well 'The Man' being The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents...on second thought, it might be worthwhile doing.
This week I tried the classic technique again, that instructors dish out on your cycling proficiency. I made a box with cones in a car park and I had to stay within those cones.

It sounds easy, however when you're challenged to make quick and sharp turns when normally they're slow and wide, it becomes very frustrating.

If you start with a size that you can comfortably ride around in, then slowly move the cones inward to decrease the size of the box and increase the difficulty.

When we set up my box, one end was marked with a big curb with a lampost in it. So I was forced to make the turns successfully at that end otherwise I would be launched off the bike.

    The pesky curb- where I crashed so many times- on the Bottom left.

I tried to ride around in a figure of eight in the box, this meant I had to control my speed when entering a turn. Also I had to keep looking forward instead of giving into the temptation of looking down, whilst riding in a big circle.

Look out for some videos and pictures of the box technique soon. Unfortunately it was too dark for pictures this time.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Future-Biking-And Me

Coach Ali proposed an interesting concept to me. As I have been making so much progress with my biking, maybe I could consider it as a mode of transport in years to come?

I currently have a car, which is my main mode of transport between my home in Kent and my University in Staffordshire. However I plan to move into London when I graduate to chase my journalistic dreams and riding a bike may be the cheapest, healthiest and possibly fastest way to get to work...

This would pose some problems though:
  1. Is cycling in London really safe, with all those bendy buses crushing people?
  2. Can you realistically cycle to work, all sweaty and in a suit?
  3. Would I need to wear one of those snazzy pollution/swine-flu-masks? (see below)

                                   I AM YOUR FATHER

    It seems riding around on a bike can even lead to becoming a bit of a hero. Boris Johnson rescued a woman from some menacing hoodies.

    Maybe I could become a vigilante on a bike blog idea...Fight Crime With Laurence?

    Do any of you cycle to work? Or used to cycle to work? Apparently my uncle started riding to work when his car was out of action and shifted his beer belly in a few weeks...

    I may definitely need to consider it then, my diet of cheap Asda meat, snakebites and Subways is doing nothing for my physique.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Wax On-Wax Off

For every exciting thrill and success in learning to ride a bike there is a boring, gruelling and monotonous job waiting.

Whether this is fixing a punctured tyre and slowly looking for bubbles, as you gently squeeze the entire circumference of an inner tube in a bowl of water.


Looking around an entire shop for new helmets, trying on every single one and assessing it for shape, size, weight, safety, price and how cool your big bulbous head looks in it.


Scrubbing down a muddy bike with hot saopy water after a ride.

Well this week I shall be doing exactly that- washing my bike. Unfortunately not in a wet white t-shirt like some reader requested...I know you must be devastated.

Me washing down 'old Bertha' outside our house...
& yes as you can tell by the traffic cones & broken bed-we're students.

To wash down a bike, let the mud dry and then use the soft side of a sponge to wash the downtube and then rest of the bike liberally with warm soapy water!

If anyone actually had to look that up before doing it then you should be ashamed.

Look out for another biking trip this week!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Re-Learn With Laurence

There may be some of you reading this who can already ride a bike, well in actuality you probably all can. Otherwise 20-year-old oddities such as myself would be very common indeed.

In this blog I am trying to help those who have only just began to learn or are teaching someone else. However, I have come across some techniques that experienced riders did not know and could help more than just beginnners.

The term under-rotation is one I picked up from IMB magazine and Coach Woodward.

When you are braking on the bike or trying to have any element of control over it in my case, try tipping your pedals back, so you heel points further towards the floor. This allows you to control the momentum rather than merely trying to battle it.

The easiest way to describe it is how it is mentioned in the article:

"If you were walking down a hill or a steep path you wouldn't do it on tip toes and leaning forward even if you were to run down it you'd dig your heels in- so do the same on your bike."

So if you dip your heels to gain more control you'll fall off less. Nuff said.

Look out for some more biking tips soon!

I Hate Biking

It's been a while since I last went out. So the age old saying was truly being tested. Would I actually forget how to ride a bike?

Well seeing as I couldn't actually ride properly in the first place, it would be magic if I remembered now.

I can still push off without the help of the waddle walk and I can pedal sitting down reasonably well. However it seems my sudden rush of success in the beginning has soured the stage I'm at now. Actually getting good.

I can't turn for toffee, I either bank too sharply and fall off or take the corner wider than Rik Waller's waistband. In one epic scrape I speared my thigh with the handle bars, leaving me with a dead leg and in need of a good sit down.

The problem became really apparent as Coach Woodward made me do a half lap around the Ashley car park eveytime I left a makeshift square we had made. My awful turns became even more apparent to me as Coach Ali pointed out every time I left the circle with great pleasure!

This is how wide my turns are - in obese Pop-Idol failing form.

The problems don't end there. At this moment in time, here is what I'm trying to conquer:

  1. I CAN'T TURN! I know I already mentioned this but it is kind of important, unlesss everywhere I want to ride to happens to be directly in front of me.

  2. MY HANDS HURT! Whether it is through sheer mortal fear, or my powerful kung-fu grip, I keep clutching the handle bars too tight. So eventually my arms ache and my thumbs throb like I've been thumb wrestling with Hulk Hogan.

  3. I CAN'T STAND UP AND PEDAL! I critically injured my knee about 4 years ago. I rotationally dispaced it whilst playing with a bouncy ball in my 6th form common room. Pathetic, I know.

    Since that day I have done it 4 more times - mainly whilst dancing. Again Pathetic. However this has left me without the strength and stablity to stand up and pedal fast.

    So I have objectives to combat my failings. When I'm trying to turn I need to lift the opposite pedal, so it doesn't scrape on the floor, throw me off and scrape my face on the floor. I also need to perfect leaning into my turns more instead of over steering with the handle bars. 
    Similar to changing lanes on the motorway it needs to be a slow and gradual turn, however leaning in is a technique I am struggling with. 
    Whilst I am holding the handle bars, my fingers hover over my breaks just fine- according to Coach Woodward. However I grip the handles too hard and feel like I've got arm pump and have to take a break. So to combat this...I just won't do it. 
    Hopefully as I get better, I'll be less inclined to soil myself and hold on for dear life. Fingers crossed. 
    Finally to combat my pedalling problem, I'm going to tape up my knee, put on my knee support and just go for it. Apparently after you get the standing and pedaling part sorted everything clicks, according to Coach Woodward. 
    If I am ever hoping to get into mountaing biking, I'm going to have to man up and do it!

            Me, rocking the knee pad at Wireless 2009

Overall I still have a way to go. I intend to go into overdrive soon to make some fast progress on my biking and hopefully head out on to the open road! Look out soon for some knee support action, teaching how to turn and washing my bike.

Finally massive congratulations to Coach Woodward a.k.a George Woodward over at mymtbblog as he has got a job at International Bike Magazine! Who knew blogging would actually pay off!

Saturday, 5 December 2009


"A picture says a thousand words."

As you will know, if you have followed my blog for long, I have a habbit of using and abusing famous catchphrases and cliches. I have no intention of stopping now, the image below sums up how I am feeling right now.


There seems to be a split with people that ride bikes:

*The ones that can just ride in a park or on a field.

*And the ones that can ride on roads, through traffic and as a means of transport.

What is the point in being able to ride a bike if you can't take it out on the road, ride down a dirt track or race it against your mates? Am I being short-sighted?

Well I am currently despairing because as I almost at the stage where I can ride around a field, stop and start and not fall off.

However alot of people seem to stop at this stage, I have worked so hard just to get this far but is it really enough. Can I ride a bike now? Have I done enough just to jack it all in? Has Laurence finally learnt?

Well, I want to push on and learn, so that no one can question my riding abilites, in the end, I want to actually be quite good.

But still, tell me what you think.

Is just being able to ride a bike around a field enough? How much can you do? Should I carry on?

Monday, 23 November 2009

Ghosts Of Biking Past

This weekend I returned home for a friend's surprise 21st birthday party and his dad was there, who attempted to teach me all those years ago.

Quite a few of our old school friends made an appearance and they asked about how my biking was going. (They had heard through the magic of social networking). I told them how, I am currently perfecting the art of turning the bike.

However John, my friend's dad is now a ripe age of 66 and told me about when he tried to teach me. He said he just couldn't understand why it wouldn't click with me, he had found it so easy and therefore couldn't empathise.

Until, John went skiing.

                         Me, John and My mate James

If there is one thing more unnatural than a man trying to balance on two's a man trying to balance on two pieces on wood, whilst hurtling down a mountain.

He said his instructor had been skiing since he was seven and was now in his mid-twenties and couldn't understand why John kept falling over.

John said: "What goes around comes around Laurence

                  "I know how you must have felt now."

Well, until he rides down the mountain in a fluffy pink dress, whilst showboating little French girls giggle and ski circles around him and his instructor screams 'just peddle' at him...he'll never understand.

Look out for a new post, with me perfecting my turning very soon!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Picture Perfect?

First an intimate diary of my experiences learning to ride, then videos and now pictures. I'm imagining the music from Tony Hart's 'Vision On' as you scroll through them...

Here are a selection of pictures from my latest session out on the bike, it was a nightmare trying to get some decent ones and the camera kept getting full too quickly.

This was my first proper time out on concrete, quite late in the day as you can tell from the shadows.

Attempting to get a good pose for the blog's profile picture...and not fall off.

Amongst the uncomfortable gurning you may be able to make out I'm almost standing up on the bike!

What probably could have been a cool picture, ruined by the child catcher expression.

I'm really impressed with this picture, we had failed to get a picture of my shadow on the bike all afternoon. Then go this one by accident!

What this picture doesn't show, is me grabbing the handles again instantly, trying to hang on for dear life.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Little White Lies 3: Centre Parks

The problem with bikes, especially when you can't ride one, is that they crop up all too often. For instance, my school water sports trip, hanging out at the park and of course the bi-wheeled woodland magnet that is Center Parks.

In case you're not familiar with Center Parks, they are family resorts based all across Europe and the UK. It has all the usual family woodland fun, like clay pigeon shooting, laser pigeon shooting and paintballing. Basically if you like shooting things, they've got it covered.

Another staple-mark of Center Parks is biking, they have tandem bikes which I had only ever seen in films, treasure hunt on bikes, you can't even walk outside without some troublesome, showboating little girl whizzing past, doing a wheelie or something else ridiculously dangerous. All the kids there ride bikes, mostly alone, probably so their lazy parents can drink.

Bearing this in mind, my mother thought it would be a great idea to book our accommodation as far away from the swimming pool as humanly possible. The swimming complex at this particular Suffolk Center Parks was huge, with flumes, plunge pools and a subtropical swimming paradise theme. Any child in their right mind would kill to go there. However, I would be forced to cycle a sizeable distance just to swim!

Even though our family friends were treating us with the holiday, she had still managed to interfere and make things torturous for me. Their ingenious idea was that if I was simply forced to ride to the swimming pool, then I would somehow magically learn during the long weekend.

It was a very long weekend.

We rented two bikes for me that weekend, one dark blue BMX and a big red tricycle with a basket on the back. I was exstatic with the big red trike, as it gave me my first ever taste of riding and we used the basket on the back to carry our swimming stuff, so I was assured no one would realise I couldn't ride and would assume I was merely being a mobile baggage handler for the weekend.

Looking back, there is no reason why a child would voluntarily choose a cumbersome red trike over a nifty BMX with a million gears. Which probably explains some of the sniggers I recieved over the weekend and why I remember quite vividly noticing one man, on a trike with no basket...he shared my curse.

The role of tutoring me on my BMX fell to Freddie, the partner of my mum's old school friend. Now Freddie was a very intelligent and caring man, however up until this point he had not experienced the joys of fatherhood. I remember at one point, Freddie tried to entertain me with a calculator. Yes, a calculator. His game involved multiplying numbers by two, with me trying to guess the answer...quite possibly the worst game in the history of the world.

I think Freddie's overtly logical approach may have been his downfall.

1 child + 1 boys bike x 2 hours practice= success

Well it didn't. With no stabilisers, Freddie resorted to the classic tactic of holding me up, whilst I tried to pedal. The only problem was that I just stared at my feet, whilst pedaling, safe in the knowledge that he was holding me. Until he let go, with me staring at my feet and suddenly I was staring at the ground, with a big graze on my knee and tears in my eyes.

The second attempt was slightly more 'compassionate',  my sister's obnoxious boyfriend rode alongside me, shouting the least encouraging encouragement imaginable.

"Don't fall off, don't fall off, don't fall off."

I fell off.

I remember picking the bike up again, puffing with frustration, determined to succeed at last. I set the bike pointing up the road and pedaled hard with my eyes shut for concentration. As you can imagine, this was an awful idea and I opened them just in time to see three things:

1) My front tyre veer sharply off the road
2) Some showboating little girls whiz past me, cackling
3) A huge stingy nettle bush loom ahead

I slammed on my breaks (quite an achievement for me at the time) slipped off the seat, then went over the handle bars straight into the stingy nettles. As the tears began to roll once more, I sub-consciously erased this traumatic event from my memory, until my mother reminded me whilst I told her about this blog.

Mothers eh? gotta love them.

What I learnt:

1) I really, really hate showboating little girls
2) Shouting really obvious commands still doesn't work
3) I hate maths
4) Being frustrated or wound up, really ruin your chances of progress, take time out to calm down

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Welcome To Learn With Laurence!

Hello there my dear Twitter friend!

Thank you very much for clicking on to my blog. In case you get a bit confused and lost, I thought I would explain what this blog is about...

This is me.
My name is Laurence Mozafari.
I'm 20-years-old.
I can't ride a bike.

This blog follows me as I try to learn and eventually enter a charity event, raise some money and get maybe one day get into mountain biking. Because it just looks like fun!

This blog is for:
  • Adults/children learning to ride a bike
  • Those teaching someone else to ride a bike
  • Mountain Biking enthusiasts
  • Anyone looking for a laugh on their lunch break!

This is one of my first attempts to ride and is a good indicator of the humour in my blog.

So please click my banner and have a look at my posts, drop some comments and maybe even follow me!

I am a third year journalism student at Staffordshire University and I want to work in men's lifestyle magazines.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Word Gets Around

The joys of viral networking are infinite and chances are if you are reading my blog, I either poached you via Facebook or blackmailed you in person, "You're not my friend if you don't follow me". 

(N.B You can still be my friend if you don't follow me)

As my last post mentioned, a lot of people have picked up about my blog and coincidentally I have been asked to do a video with One Media Group TV. OMG is my university's student media brand, with their own online TV news, radio shows and magazine (which I help produce).

I should be filming this weekend, so look out for an awkward interview and shameless self-promoting video some time soon! 

Back in biking news, I was reminded by my mother about another bad biking experience I had at Centre Parks, involving tricycles and even more showboating little girls! 

Perhaps I had mentally blocked it out, even so, watch this space as I pull open the wounds from more embarrassing biking stories.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Special Moments

It occured to me recently, special moments between parents and their children only ever occur once in a lifetime and they are priceless. Their first word, their first steps and the first time they ride a bike.

In an obscure way, this moment will not just be shared with my mother, family or friends but the whole world. Admittedly that does sound quite over-dramatic but it was an odd thought that the act of teaching and the inevitable eurphoria from succeeding is being given to two friends. It is a very personal side of my life and it is being shared with the world.

Currently by 'The World' I mean, my university and a biking forum. Random acquaintances have begun to ask about my progress or stop me to say how much they are liking my blog. This has gradually eased my embaressment, however it does mean now that there is more pressure than ever to succeed.

So today I present to you my first ever milestone. The first time I have ever rode a bike.

The video starts with a previous video from my last post but the new ones are in there.

For any learners or teachers reading this, rest assured it is acheiveable, I managed to ride around five metres and must have rode around sixty by the end of two hours practice. The only problem was once I got going I didn't know how to stop and when I wanted to cheer and raise my arms in success...I fell off.

The end of the video sees me on concrete for the first time, which scared me as I knew it would hurt a lot if I fell off. However it was much easier to pedal and steer, the only problem was that I hit the kerb.

I was worried about hitting it, so I began to stare at it and then hit it anyway.

What I've Learnt:

1) Pedalling on grass is still really, really, really hard!
2) Turning on grass remains very difficult as well. (see video)
3) If you don't raise yourself up off the seat, to allow for bumps in the road, you get a very sore bum!

Friday, 30 October 2009

The First Ride

Time flies. It really does.

When there is work to be done, events to plan or a tight deadline, it's always on your back before you know it. Time and it's ability to fly, seems to be even more pronounced when you're dreading the impending event. Well before I begin to sound too much like Stephen Hawking, deliberating the finer points it time perception, I'll get the point.

I'm dreading learning to ride a bike.

In fact, I don't think 'dreading' really covers it. The idea of learning is intimidating after all these years of cycling sobriety. The planning of the training is nerve racking, anything mildly sport related normally results in injury on my part. This is no exaggeration, I broke my thumb and wrist during a mere kick about during lunch time at school and dislocated my knee throwing a bouncy ball around in sixth-form. Some people really aren't cut out for sport, I am definitely one of them...

So as you might imagine, actually grabbing the two-wheeled-titan, after a ten-year hiatus and riding it, is terrifying.

I can honestly say, the walk to my first attempt was long. Despite only being ten minutes away, I was dragging my feet and wanted to put it off, for as long as possible.

I bumped into a friend from work on our walk over, it was a typically awkward, dead-end conversation. Never-the-less I strove to keep it going, to the extent I began to ask about his lacrosse team in great detail, a sport I neither understand or want to understand. Eventually I relinquished my interrogation about his dinner plans, when he insisted he had to leave as he needed sleep.

Solemnly I continued toward my first attempt in ten years, whilst Coach Woodward did wheelies and various other tricks. This did not do much for my confidence, I still struggle to understand how people stay upright, without pedaling on a two wheel bike.

I insisted that I should learn on grass. Despite the recommendation of my teachers Coach Woodward and Coach Ali. My logic was that I am going to fall off, so I want my fall as cushioned as possible.

I was wrong. Peddling on grass is twice as hard.

So I moved onto a near by cricket run. And this was the result:
(N.B Video is quiet, crank up your volume)

That is Coach Woodward's excited voice you can hear in the background. Luckily there was no blood but unfortunately there was no success either.

The problem was that Coach Woodward's bike is a special mountain bike and cannot have stabilisers fitted. Therefore I attempted a technique I like to call the 'Waddle Walk'.

I started by pushing myself along with my legs in order to gain speed and then began to pedal, as getting the initial speed is the hardest part. Coach Woodward said that some learners start with this technique and no pedals, until they can eventually lift their feet up and still balance.

These were the comical results.

As stylish and professional the 'Waddle Walk' looks, it does takes time to get used to pedaling. I either missed the pedals altogether, placed my feet wrongly or spent so long looking down thinking about pedaling, that I ended up on the floor.

What did I learn:

1) Pedaling on grass is hard, especially on wet grass and turning is even harder!
2) People always laugh when you fall off.
3) Watching other people showing off on a bike really doesn't help your confidence.

Next time I'll treat you to more videos of my attempts and introduce you to my bike.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Students Become The Teacher:

Learning to ride a bike takes will power, patience and a good teacher. My previous teachers either gave up too quickly or didn't know the right way to go about it.

This time round I've enlisted two helpers, two of my university housemates George Woodward and Atif Ali.

On the left, Coach Ali and on the right Coach Woodward.

George is a keen mountain-biking-extreme-dude. He rides down hills in the country at brake neck speeds and recently returned from a trip to Morzine in France, a mountain biking hot spot. Check out his blog for more.
George is very ambitious and always strives for the next level in my biking skill.

Coach Woodward: "I'm totally pumped to teach Laurence to ride, some of the fails will be pretty gnarly and he'll probably spank it big time but we're all stoked here in Stoke to see him succeed."

Atif, like many is a regular bike rider and learned when he was very young. He has missed using a bike since he has started driving and been at university. Atif also brings a more methodical approach and an understanding balance to the teaching team.

Coach Ali: "What the hell did George just say!?"

                  Coach Ali fulfilling the proud paternal role

Check back soon, for my first ever ride in 10 years and hilarious videos of my attempts!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Little White Lies 2

I was in year 9 of secondary school and another school trip was approaching. This year was a water sports trip to France, which sounded amazing, especially in comparison to the previous two years in Germany seeing cathedrals with thousands of steps and France seeing caves, where they kept wine.

The plans for the water sports trip included water skiing, banana boats and all the wet fun imaginable...(except that).

However there was one day on the itinerary which involved a group bike ride around the area. Which obviously struck fear into my heart, how could I possibly avoid going on a bike ride everyone was doing? I couldn't muddle through and hope no one noticed me falling off every five seconds or perhaps I could magically learn before the trip.

Instead I asked my tutor, a P.E teacher, about the trip and whether you had to go on a bike ride.

"Whys that?" he asked

"Erm, erm, erm, I just don't fancy it, know what I mean" I replied in the most nonchalant and macho voice i could muster.

"Well, yeah probably, sure you can put up with it."

Luckily, he was a particularly simple minded P.E teacher, who didn't click why someone would adamantly not want to go on a bike ride for no reason. Maybe the idea of a 16-year-old unable to ride a bike was ridiculous. Either way, the last thing I wanted to do was give ammunition to a cocky, cynical, athletic P.E teacher. He was the last person I would ever want to know about not being able to ride a bike.

I never did go on the trip, no way could I risk having to go on the bike ride, even though everyone was going on the trip and I really wanted to do everything else.

I remember when everyone got back, all tanned and full of stories about some lad's dirty pants, I asked someone.

"How was that big bike ride then?"

"Oh, we never went."


Little White Lies

It occurred to me that not being able to ride a bike came with wider ramifications.

Not only was there a host of failed attempts, bruised knees and a battered ego but a few little white lies. The fact remains that even though I can't ride a bike at the age of 20, most people don't know that. Hence their responses.

This will obviously change when I tell my colleagues, friends and all the randomers in my Facebook friends list about this blog.

In years gone by, around the age of fifteen I met up with some friends after school, who decided we should go to the park on our bikes. I retorted that I didn't have my bike with me, whilst feeling subtly proud about maintaining my secret. Never-the-less, my friend had a solution.

A scooter.

I guess it could have been worse, he could have had another bike in his garage...

Still you need to bear in mind, my balance was not that of an agile tight-rope walker and more of a dizzy, one legged tramp who had recently drank a bottle of paint stripper.

Oblivious to this, the other two shot off up the hill on their bikes, to the park where I had previous problems. My portly little legs lacked the strength to heave my frame up the hill and soon I was carrying the low price, rusty scooter.

I did catch up with my friends, at the park about 20 minutes later...
With more venom towards bicycles and their riders than ever.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

In The Beginning: Part 2-Showboating Little Girls

Last time, as i delved into my closet of skeletal biking tales, i mentioned three people have attempted to teach me to ride.

My Mum tried alone whilst my mates dad and brother worked in tandem (see the bike related pun).

However despite the expertise and strength of two grown men, they failed...whilst this does ruin the end of the story, hopefully you can learn more from my journey. As most children won't tell you why they're so embarrassed to be learning or failing, I can outline every gory detail.

The attempt began one afternoon after school, my school friend's dad, was attempting to fill my fatherless void and help out my mum by teaching me to ride a bike, when I came round for a play-date.

Whilst being a very nice gesture, it was news to me, I had no idea or intention of learning. Instead I had planned on some particularly epic adventures with my mates action men, or producing another installment of our worryingly named radio show 'Rude Radio'. With highlights including us interviewing each other, whilst one of us pretended to be Briney Spears, talking to listeners (in an old woman's voice) about her menstrual cycle.

Amazing what you learn on the playground.

So soon I was stood in the middle of the park, staring at my mates intimidatingly large BMX. Although I was much taller than my friend at the time (he has since shot up to a tower 6'4") the towering size of the bike only meant one thing to me, a bigger fall.

According to a friend on mine, whilst working at Halfords most parents always purchased a large bike their kids could 'grow in to' my mother applied the same logic to clothes, that saw the same space invaders hoody dutifully serve me for four years! Although this theory is easier on the back pocket, especially as we still wade through recession, perhaps a smaller, cheaper bike from a bootfair is better. Especially if your child is still knee-high to a grasshopper.

Back in a chilly park in Kent, the first of a few attempts at riding failed miserably. So my mates dad and brother, held me at either side and tried to run along with me as i pedalled. Now two problems occurred here-

1) The aforementioned puppy fat was too much for my 50-year old teacher and his chain smoking son. Which lead to much heavy breathing and mumbled profanities as they waddled along beside me.

    2) Soon another attempt was abandoned, to my great relief. I recall my mate's dad saying, 'keep practicing Laurence' as I got into my mum's car, I smiled and said I would...Then turned my back on learning for ten years.

    I think another three pearls of wisdom can be drawn from this trip down memory lane:

    1. DON'T neglect to tell your kids when you plan on teaching them, especially if their previous attempts have been riddled with failure. If it's something they really don't want to do, don't just drop it on them, especially with a relative stranger.
    2. AVOID buying a huge bike for your kids to grow on to, even though it may seem cheaper, if it's too big and intimidating, they'll never learn and the bike will never get used.
      Maybe share a smaller bike between a group of parents at school??
    3. MOST IMPORTANTLY go somewhere secluded, this was one thing my dear old mum did get right, no one likes having their faults on display in public...

    Friday, 16 October 2009

    In The Beginning: Learning To Ride

    Before I set out and open the old wounds (metaphorically) and create some new ones (literally) I want to divulge my past experiences.

    The past 20 years, have seen some calamitous attempts and the odd white lie.

    To date, three people have attempted to teach me to ride. My mother, my friend's dad and my friend's brother. All three tried. All three failed.

    However there are some lessons to be learnt from their attempts and quite a few laughs to be had.

    First of all came my mum. Now, she worked hard all her life and still does. At the time she was working as a cleaner and was strapped of time and energy to take me out to learn.

    My mum and sister's bike had been condemned to a dusty grave in my nan's shed, as our house was too small to store them. So there were no bikes readily available, odd conversation sometimes cropped up between the family, mumblings about my nan's god-son fitting stabilizers.

    I have only met this god-son about four times in my entire life, so the odds of him dropping his busy life of being an unemployed chav, buying some stabilizers, fitting them to a bike I didn't have and then teaching me to ride, were slim to say the least.

    So the job fell to my mum, who god-bless her was protective of me. However calling her protective doesn't quite cut it. In primary school I was forced to wear a vest, polo-shirt, shirt and jumper to school, to keep me warm, in the summer. Even now, when I told her I was learning to ride a bike, the first thing she said was "STAY OFF THE MAIN ROAD!"

    Bearing her maternal omnipotence in mind, I'm sure it won't surprise you that she bought me a girls bike. Yes thats right, not only was the idea of a tubby, 10-year-old falling off his bike in public bad enough, she wanted me to do it on a little girls bike as well.

    Although there was some method in her madness, said bike was purchased from a boot fair, where choice was limited but the bikes were cheap. Being a single parent family it was the logical choice, however a baby blue, girl's bike emblazoned with Tony The Tiger stickers was not.


    Her other reason for buying a girls bike was the bent, down-tube frame. So if I fell off, I wouldn't hurt my...little fella.

    In her credit I never did hurt myself in that way, however the one and only time she took me out on the baby blue monstrosity, I hurt myself in so many other ways. Scraped knees and bruised shins shattered my motivation as did her lack of advice...


    This method of teaching me to ride a bike was very similar to her method of teaching me to drive.


    What, 'kick on' means is speed up. Why she kept saying it and didn't just say 'speed up' I do not know. All I can say, was that it was annoying, very, very annoying!

    My day spent 'just peddling' saw me reach my record distance on the long-jump run up:

    Three Metres.

    My mother has been the ideal parent all of my life, however for all her countless skills, she can't teach for toffee.

    What i learnt: So if you are a parent or friend trying to teach a child or anyone to ride a bike. There are three things to avoid.

    1. Don't shout vague commands like- "RIDE A BIKE", "PEDDLE" and "STOP CRYING" It may have helped Forest Gump learn to run but won't magically teach someone to ride a bike.
    2. Don't buy a Girls bike for a boy, it adds insult to injury, most parents are oblivious to the embarrassment they cause. This is a no brainer.
    3. Don't put it off, if you're going to buy a bike, buy it! If you're going to fit stabilizers, fit them! If you're going to go out and teach someone, stick at it!

    *Stay tuned for more embarrassing moral tales, as two grown men try and fail to hold an obese 10-year-old on his bike!*

    Thursday, 15 October 2009

    Inventing The Wheel...

    "It's like learning to ride a bike, you never forget" ~Some Idiot
    But what if you never learned? What if you lived too near a main road, with an over-protective mother and no father or older brother to fix you up with stabilizers?

    What if repeated failures, a large amount of puppy fat and a chronic case of shyness ruined your resolve to learn?

    Well, I am that if.

    Let me introduce myself, my name is Laurence Mozafari, I am like most 20-year-old men. I drink, I drive (not together) and I'm enrolled at University. However I am lacking one basic skill, that it seems the whole world and his wife and their child posses.

    I can't ride a bicycle.

    Now there are about 3 responses I get from divulging this skeleton from my closet.

    1) Uncontrollable laughter
    2) Disbelief. Followed by an odd look and questions.
    3) I'LL TEACH YOU!

    I would easily take the first two responses over the latter. Why? Because the idea of people knowing about my problem is mortifying. Having to relive the frustrated friend/parent/teacher running alongside, attempting to hold me up and the inevitable fails just rubs salt in the wounds.

    Maybe this derives from my detest for being in situations where everyone else knows what they're doing and I do not. Maybe it's because I see it as an unnecessary skill. Maybe I'm just lazy.

    N.B I realise the hypocrisy of being embarrassed about not being able to ride a bike and then creating a blog about it.

    As you may have realised, I have finally decided to learn, to bite the bullet and inevitably bite the dirt. However in a bid to help other learners like myself, children, adults and looking for a laugh on their lunch-break, I'll update my progress on this Blog. The ultimate goal is to learn, enter a biking event and raise money for charity.

    All I can say is, once I learn, I better not bloody forget!