Stop nodding

consider, council, free, recycle, repair, social

Nothing strengthens the authority so much as silence.

Leonardo da Vinci 

It is extremely difficult to explain certain things to the people who really are not trained; nor prepared for this matter; to use their common sense and a genuine reasoning.

You see it is difficult to realise a potential that lays behind a change. Behavioural, social and economic change never came without effort, sweat and tears. We had an amazing privilege of dealing with the number of authorities in and beyond Leeds; some of them initially extremely eager to help. But what really is a pattern is the general apathy of any services that are simply responsible for a well being of Leeds’ residents.

Take Leeds City Council for starters. Amazed by the fact that someone can actually do what we do and do it for free. As soon there is free involved everyone jumps on the bandwagon, eager to support, keen to mention and willing to plaster the numerous publications with your name. When you wish any additional support requiring someone to do anything apart from smiling and nodding the problems start.

Take the local charities for seconds. Amazed by the fact that we wished to be a part of their summer program; free was the keyword again. Numerous emails later no response, project coordinators ignoring our emails, absolutely no contact. Needless to say that the charity in question is heavily supported by the Leeds City Council.

Take local councillors for laters. Supporting our cause with smiles and nodding (see the pattern there?). Promising contacts and to spread the word. Admiring the project and even visiting us when we were a part of a local community centre fun day. No response to specific requests or applications. Quite frankly working for the Leeds City Council.

Leeds City Council proved to be absolutely useless in whatever they promised. All but one departments (thanks for your visit Janice) we had a chance to deal with were simply a bunch of ignorants unable to connect with anything past the edge of their desks. A local representative who used to pay an extremely regular visits ceased his will to come by and ask about issues. He avoids our door on his ’rounds’. The local housing office is simply uninterested in any of the local issues. The regional office is simply oblivious to any real life issues. Shameful to be perfectly honest.

And then you have a local, small projects that simply care. The previously supporting us Derbyshire local councillors, the currently supporting us local TARA Moorside community centre, the local families supporting us daily, food and clothing projects donating, schools enquiring, further afield charities sending donations, local projects supporting and cooperating and even the Leeds based waste tips lending a helping hand. Leeds City Council still demanding us to jump through their set unrealistically high hoops…

But the children of Leeds are riding our bikes. And that what really makes the change. Thanks everyone!

Together we can do it better

business, cheap, eco, free, friends, help, learn, repair, share, social

Life is all about just being a good person and helping others.

Unknown

It never gets quiet here. We are constantly busy. If we are not building a bike we are repairing another; if we are done with mending we get busy with something else. But always to do with bikes; that is the way we do it.

We had an amazing opportunity to be a part of a local community centre’s fun day this weekend. We set up a small stall where we welcomed anyone from a fair amount of visitors to get their bikes checked for free; it is like a drop in Dr Bike station- you bring your patient and we do the magic to heal it in no time…

As a result of this amazing day we met a few people who we simply did not know existed; we spoke to local PCSO’s, local police officers, local councillors and a few others. Most importantly we spoke to a few local residents that simply were not aware of our existence despite living literally a stone’s throw from the famous The Bikes College shed. As a result we have given away plenty of leaflets and flyers, we have fixed a few bikes, we have had a few donations and we discussed and most importantly have commenced an amazing partnership. That partnership will create a space where anyone can come down and repair their bikes and learn how to do it for free; does it sound familiar? That is all we do here at TBC- we fix, mend, repair and teach how to do it too.

Starting from September there will be a bike repair space in Moorside TARA Community Centre, manned by TBC, fixing and teaching how to fix. We have finally secured the space that we were looking for for so long. It came as a surprise and we appreciate everyone involved in the birth of our ideal space.

Thank you Bev and Daniel- you are the ones who simply reached out and spotted an opportunity to support us. The most amazing thanks go to the number of others involved- you know who you are and we salute you!

The Bikes College is growing as ever. Let’s talk bikes.

The apple does not fall far from the tree

did you know, help, inspiration, learn, repair

The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.

Barack Obama

It sometimes occurs to us suddenly that we have undertaken the most difficult job around. We are willing to make sure that kids surrounding us feel motivated to learn and to do things that noone has ever told them are possible. When one gets faced by a problem one faces a choice- a puzzling dilemma between the creativity and procrastination. We get surrounded by local kids on a regular basis- kids with simple problems with their bikes; there are punctures, worn tyres, broken brakes; there are boys, girls, children and kids.

There is one special kid, a boy aged 7, who managed to learn to ride his bike properly less than 2 years ago. He went on a long journey from a small bike with stabilisers to a geared mountain bicycle. And a BMX should he fancy a simpler ride. His name is Luka and he constantly stays around. He watches and he learns. He learns to ride every day. But what he learnt without us noticing is to watch and remember. A few days ago a couple of local teens came along; older than Luka and visiting us regularly too; they had a puncture.

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Luka took initiative; he put whatever he has learnt to use immediately; he taught too; he explained and showed the techniques. He knew specific spanner size for the wheel nuts, he knew how to check for punctures and how to repair it. We realise that Luka was watching- he has taken notes and he has put to use all that he has learnt. He is constantly around. And he never stops learning.

My name is David and I am one of the co-founders of The Bikes College. Luka is my son.

‘…I want to ride my bicycle…’

cheap, consider, free, friends, help, inspiration, recycle, repair, safety, share

The average family earning minimum wage spends 141 percent of their income struggling to meet basic needs – food, shelter, clothing. 

Sherrod Brown

We met Labbonti today. He was a bit late but he said that he has had a busy night last night. We patiently listened to his story. He lived in Wales in a flat belonging to his sister. She passed away and he, unable to meet the financial expectations, had to leave. He came to Leeds a while a go and slept rough since. We met him today but we already met before too.

His person, especially the state of his bike, was brought to our attention by a message on our social media page. A random passer-by was touched and brought to tears by his bicycle. We browsed the area to meet him and arrange the meet up. When we met him his bike was indeed in a bit of a state…

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We talked to him and arranged for the weekend visit to make his ride ride again. His front wheel did not have a tyre on. Nor an inner tube. The brakes did not work, the brake pads were missing, gears did not work, cables and outers were broken. The bottom bracket and the headset were all over the place as well. The bike was a death trap.

Labbonti met us exactly where and when agreed. He came on his bike; you could hear him from the distance- the front rim making the metal grinding against the tarmac sound. We replaced the front wheel, put an inner tube on, put a tyre on, fixed his brakes, adjusted gears, replaced the outers and cables, tightened the bottom bracket, tightened the handlebars, tightened the saddle, tightened the seatpost… All this for a fist pump. And a massive smile.

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When he rode away we saw him grinning like a kid, swerving from one side to another, keeping his feet off the pedals… He enjoyed his bike. He acted like we all did at once- that day when we received a new bike- he enjoyed the ability to travel freely, the happiness, the wind in the hair…

You see this is the time when you give someone something more than a bicycle.

We gave him freedom…

Old friends new things

business, crime, friends, help, inspiration, learn, recycle, repair, ride, social, theft

…there is no such a thing like free…

Local phrase

We have had a busy time at The Bikes College in the last few weeks. We had a few interesting conversations that can lead to more good things- keep your eyes peeled so you can be upto date.

Some new faces appeared in our workshop; some old faces returned to our workshop. The bicycles are in and out of the workshop keeping us busy at all times. We also started teaching kids how to ride bicycles too. As you can tell we have been busy…

J. and S. have visited us recently too.

IMG_20140624_171202S.’s bike suddenly gave in and he simply needed a ride so we built this bike with him within a couple of hours so he can carry on riding. J. on the other hand has had a chance to get a new bike which went missing shortly after. It was also found within couple of days which is amazing. It appeared that people responsible for theft were not strangers either. Since then he invested in a good quality D-lock that we provided for approximately half of the high street price.

IMG_20140624_171219J. is one of these who pay attention; he learns and he is keen to teach too. he helps out on a regular basis and we are glad we can work together. We also worked on his other bike- a beloved MTB bike that needs new tyres occasionally. J. has received a Continental Baron tyre from us so he can try it out on some serious trails.

These two are identified with TBC around our closest area. They are helpful; they learn; they teach. Although they do not qualify to be one of our directors they surely deserve it and we would like to welcome them to our board as soon as they turn 16. Individuals like these two are what drives us to remain productive; people like them are we believe capable of changing the way the future generation looks at the world around them. They do understand the issues surrounding them and they are working towards the change. They recognise the impact of crime; they see the education gap; they understand different needs; they go riding (with us sometimes too); they look after and help maintain riding trails in the area; they address issues accordingly and they never stop to learn. When we look at them we realise that what we do is working and it is working well…

That is why we do not plan on stopping any time soon.

Louder than words

did you know, free, inspiration, recycle, repair, social

Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.

Dr. Seuss

Leeds is such a big place. It is mentioned as a capital of the North on numerous occasions. With every great story comes an untold tale of things that often get omitted by the mainstream media: the social isolation, the lack of access to alternative transport, transport dependence, etc.

On Saturday 28th June we had a pleasure to be a part of a Swinnow Family Fun Day where we set up our tent and provided bicycle check up service for anyone who felt their bike needed some TLC. The turn out was amazing and we are glad to announce that we serviced almost a dozen of bikes, we replaced a couple of cables, adjusted a few brakes, discussed the tyre pressure on a few occasions and even explained the basic physics behind the bearings once. We discovered exactly the same problems occur wherever we go- the bikes are neglected, the brakes are too spongy, tyres are bold, the bottom brackets are loose… What we are currently discussing with our constantly growing list of friends are opportunities to deliver our services to the wider audience- we want to teach everyone how to look after their bikes.

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What we also did during this amazing day was raffling the donated Kona Hahanna. It was won by Louise from Leeds who bought a lucky pink 38 ticket.

This is how we respond to all these untold stories- this is the only way we can address the issues we mentioned. By actions. Nothing else.

New friends keep us busy

business, friends, help, inspiration

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Albert Camus

So many people responded to our correspondence; so many people are willing to give up their time to meet and talk to us; so many people are simply lending a helping hand…

There are a number of bodies and individuals that provided priceless help and continue to do so. These people and their time are highly appreciated and without them we would simply not be where we are at the moment.

We would like to thank following authorities, bodies and people behind them (this list is constantly growing and we appreciate support of some who might not have made it to the list yet):

 

All the above and their staff hold a significant part of our success and with their outstanding support we will grow bigger and better. We promise.

Sunny days just a smile away

free, friends, help, recycle

You cannot buy happiness but you can get a bike and that is pretty damn close.

Anonymous

It gets you sentimental sometimes. It does. That sad and overwhelming feeling of powerlessness and inability to help. It is enslaving.

But what comes following the days filled with powerlessness and pessimism is empowering and euphoric awakening. Those days when you close the door to the workshop and think to yourself ‘that was a hell of a day’. Those days keep you going and these days motivate us to do more and more here at The Bikes College.

IMG_20140625_170724

This is T., 10 years old, from a nearby estate. He has been seen riding a bike that was far too small for him for a couple of weeks. He received a mountain bike from The Bikes College, 18 gears to make it easier to get uphill to school.

Too shy to smile properly. Too quick to get caught on his new wheels now. That is what gets us through those under the weather days. That smile. Ride on!

Important news come right in time for summer

business, consider, did you know, friends, help

From time to time The Bikes College idles to its quiet but busy mode. We get distracted from anything else but work with what we do. We finally are able to share one of the most important news that we ourselves were awaiting with soon-to-be understood anticipation.

The Bikes College is an officially registered social enterprise and now we finally established a legal structure we will go even further. Keep your eyes and ears open as you will be hearing about us more and more often.

Well done to everyone involved and thank you for your help.

Teach the simplest things first

advise, consider, friends, help, inspiration, learn, practice, ride

Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.

Solomon Ortiz

It appears that The Bikes College must be doing some things right as we teach some new things these days. We met T., 6 years old, and her parents a few weeks ago when they collected one of our bikes. T. was able to ride but seemed extremely stressed and unable to focus to ride long distances. Upcoming Beavers bicycle riding test was not going to be an easy ride.

T.’s parents got in touch with The Bikes College to seek help in making T. much confident and comfortable on her bike. We met T. and her dad in a local park with hills, paved paths, tight turns, trees slalom, grass ditches, cobble stones and plenty other obstacles. She was not confident enough to ride without close supervision on anything but grass and in straight lines preferably. And within an hour…

T. was able to ride comfortably; following a few simple but important pieces of advice she flew through the trees slalom like a champ. You can see her amazing work in this short video on our channel.

It is important that we give our little riders time, attention and a few little tips so they can become independent riders clocking their first yards with confidence and comfort.

It is important to start well as riding a bike is like… well… riding a bike. Once you learn you will never forget it.