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!