Flatland School in Germany
First a little introduction….My name is Philipp Uricher from Markdorf, near the Lake Of Constance in South Germany. I’ve just finished my business school and going to study in a couple of weeks. I just want to tell a little something about the flatland school which two friends of me, Christoph Keller and Michael Dingler, and I organised together with the Mountain Bike Shop “Trübenbacher” from Markdorf.

  I had the idea of organising a flatland beginner school a couple of months ago. But I didn’t really know who to ask and how to start this whole project. A friend of mine works in a local bike shop (not BMX but Downhill Mountain Biking with a little BMX Section). I told him about my idea and he was curious about it, well maybe just because he was damn drunk when we talked about it. But anyway, he told me they had been selling lots of beginner BMX Bikes in the last few months and many “customers” were asking for some kind of instruction in what to do with these bikes. So I had another few conversations with the boss of the shop, Josy, and he also liked the idea of this flatland school thing. So we came up with the concept of having 4 sessions of each 2 hours on 4 following Sundays (during the World Cup 2006!!!!!!!!). Through this format we 3 “teachers” were able to get to know those kids a little better, and they had enough time to practice between the “lessons” so we could show them different tricks every week, well…depending on their skill level, of course.

 The school took place on my home spot, a huge parking area of a big company from Markdorf….I also had a little chat with the owner of this company, the richest man of Markdorf btw, and he also liked the idea and said it wouldn’t be a problem for him.
So everything was set for the school and we had a lot of registrations. Nearly 20 kids between the ages of 10 to 15 wanted to participate in our school and we were really looking forward to it. Some of them came on their own, of course on their BMX, others were brought by their parents. Some of the parents were more curious about his school than their kids it seemed….might have had to do with the time Mom and Dad could spend alone…hehe…

Christop, Michi and I introduced ourselves to the kids. Christoph also told them a little bit about the history of flatland, who  started it and what’s it all about.  Most of them had these regular freestyle beginner bikes. Of course there were some really old bikes, almost weighing a ton but, as we all know, this shouldn’t be a problem in the beginning. So we first showed them how to do a fire hydrant and how to roll on the front wheel or how to pull a peg wheelie. We soon saw potential in some of those kids. 3 of them learned so fast, we all got jealous of them. This one kid (Uli…..watch out..in a few years!!) didn’t even have a front wheel brake and no rotor but a long back wheel brake cable (Dirt setup) and after one week he was able to hold backwards steam roller a little bit. Of course not everybody learned that fast, but that’s just normal as we all know.

So after the first course was finished we, Christoph, Michi, myself and two guys from the bike shop, sat together and talked about what we can improve. Christoph thought it was a good idea of having a little contest during the last course and we loved the idea. But hey, contest means we need some prices…where should we take them from. So I started to call around.
First I talked to Seppl (Sebastian Pospischl). He has it’s own little Flatland distribution (Kunstform?!) and we know each other a little bit. I asked him how they get the prices for their contests. He gave me the most simple advice. Just ask….well I did.
So Sport Import supported us with some banners and promo stuff, KHE sent us 3 T-Shirts, 3 Flatland School DVDs (what a coincidence…) a four brand new griptape Pegs (BIG THANKS TO CRISTIAN HEPP AND TG!!!) and even Seppl himself donated “ a few DVD’s” ,as he called it. 13 DVD’s….he sent me 13 DVD’s…just like that. I was so stoked and I am just so thankful for his support. So everything was going just perfect. We had fun in “teaching” what we love, the kids were so cool and we had received so much sponsored stuff, that just everybody would get a little something after the contest.

 So the last Sunday came, the day of the World Cup Final. We had to start a little earlier, because nobody wanted to miss that. After everybody had arrived we told them that they will have a contest in almost an hour. Man, they were so nervous…it was so funny. Some of them called their parents, so they get a little bit of familiar support. We gave them 60 seconds each. Because there were like 18 riders, we decided to judge from place one to place five. The rest just gets a “little” present.

The contest was big fun. Everybody was shouting and supporting each other during their runs and it was such a cool atmosphere. Some of them really surprised us. I can’t do a crank-flip bunnyhop…kids in the age of 14 can do…damn this new generation of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater playing kids….just kidding!
Everybody tried to show skills they learned during the last three weeks and some kids really did that in an impressive way. No need to mention, that the three “teachers” also judged the contest. After the last run we sat together, discussed about the results and finally announced them. I also did a little “Flatland School Certificate” for everybody which we handed them over together with their prices/gifts. Everybody, including the parents of the kids (another hehe…) just had such a great time during these 4 Sundays. I talked to some of the parents so they will keep up the support for their kid in riding flatland.
Just got news that several flatland bikes were sold by “Trübenbacher”. So I am really glad, and the certainty that some of those kids keep up their riding is a better fee than the 20€ per person….really!!!

If you want flatland to grow, get out there and show those youngsters how to ride.

You can view more photos here.

2006-07-27 - Philipp Uricher