Cake is not free.

consider

Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.

Warren Buffett

If you missed the yellow shutters and the bikes outside and the social media presence and the silly opening hours and the Bike Library involvement and the trailer full of bikes and the late drumming sessions and the school donations and the yellow sign and the bike attached to the railing and the many many other things you might have missed the fact it was our second birthday on 18th April 2018.

We opened the doors 24 months ago and it seems like it has been decades since then. Let’s just get you onto some statistical data. We have collected from more places than ever (LCC, the Police, the Railway Network, the University, the charities, the other bike shops, etc.) and have given to more than ever too (the charities, the schools, the Bike Libraries, etc.). We are currently the sole supplier of the bicycles to a couple of very similar projects around West Yorkshire. We had a documentary made about us (it’s currently touring the US) and a short marketing video for a new Leeds’ based start up; we got on the radio and the TV too. We employed Sam; he’s a cool guy.

2 years ago we started to prepare this fine mixture of ingredients, we have spoken and worked with so many different people who helped us discover the better ways to do what we do the best. We have seen our stickers in Europe and beyond, we have sent some to Asia too.

We have kneaded this dough using only the finest Leeds’ based ingredients; the people, the places, the vibe, the bicycles, the Leeds City Council, the hard work, the time, the tears and sweat… we kneaded this dough. We mixed it with some sunshine, some long hours, some finest friendships and put it in the oven. And it took some serious effort to bake this beauty.

Cake does not come free. Happy birthday to us.

No better place than…?

consider, did you know, friends, learn, ride, safety, share, social, travel

Not all those who wander are lost.

J.R.R. Tolkien

All travelling one does in their lifetime supports the one’s development and ability to remain open minded. That is a fact.

There was a time when the #tbcleeds team (quote) ‘swanned’ around Europe for over a month. We went for an adventure of our lives while visiting almost 20 countries, most of which heavily cycling influenced and cycling friendly. We have discovered places we never considered as a cycling mad (i.e. Poland) and we also learnt that the cycling is actually pretty popular in Europe; the UK, however strongly advertised as a cycling nation, has some catching up to do…

Sweden and Denmark, and for this example the entire Scandinavia, is an amazing place for cycling. The infrastructure is phenomenal, the driver’s are friendly and the cyclists are great.

Poland is absolutely driven (sic!) by cycling, there are paths everywhere, people are cycling everywhere, families are cycling with kids, adults, men, women, we have seen them all. Cyclists are great but there is still room for improvement for the drivers’ attitude.

France is great too; the city cycling is splendid, the countryside cycling is first class too. People behind the wheel are friendly and the cyclists are understanding too.

Germany and the surrounding places (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, etc.) are amazing as well. Quiet and peaceful rides are guaranteed; the driver’s and the cyclists live in a mutual symbiosis and it feels really natural to turn the two wheels.

Portugal and Spain are pretty awesome too. People are friendly- be it as drivers or cyclists- and the cycling is such an underrated way of transport.

Then we came back to England and we must admit it was a bit of a shock. Drivers are not that great and cyclists sometimes do not do themselves any favours. We are so behind with Europe- in attitude, in understanding, in respecting each other, in imagination vivid enough to realise that we do share the space and we do want to go home safely. Whether it is Europe or not.

It has almost been a year…

business, consider, did you know, friends, help, repair, share, social

A single day is enough to make us a little larger or, another time, a little smaller.

Paul Klee

There are times at which one falls behind with all their plans and the will to progress by any means necessary. Things get omitted, things get put aside, things get re-prioritised… There are also times when these things get dug up and our lives are regaining so much momentum so we can simply thrive again.

2017 has already been a year of transformation and some amazing changes. It is almost the end of March but what a few weeks that was. We have secured some amazing collaborations, we have also discovered some new ones; we got in touch with some old friends and we made some new ones. We get busier and busier as days go by.

We were branded ‘the only reliable and reputable’ second hand bike shop in Leeds (thank you Mr T.W.) and a few people mentioned us when ‘the places to go for repairs’ were mentioned. This is on the brink of the first 12 months since we have opened our door. The fame of The Bikes College is spreading, and it is spreading fast.

Thus to waste no further time we would like you to accept our deepest appreciation for what you have done for us guys for it is you that make us better; one day at a time. We salute you and this is all owed to you. Chapeau guys!

A tribute ride in memory of Leeds’ John Harkins

consider, crime, friends, help, inspiration, learn, ride, safety

Come and join us for a memorial ride to Kirkstall Road. We will gather starting from 5pm to leave the shop on Copley Hill about 545pm. The plan is to get the Critical Mass gathering for 6pm and let them join us on the memorial ride to pay our respects to the fallen John Harkins who tragically lost his life in the Kirkstall Road tragedy on 14th November 2016. Invite whoever you believe might be interested and spread the word please. We plan to be at the scene of the accident about 630pm. Have no bike? Come and join us on foot.

1. The police has been in touch now and they are aware of the ride- we discussed the implications of the large gathering and the potential (although still unintended) disturbance to the traffic in the area. I am awaiting further instructions and additional comments and/or arrangements from the senior officer of the local police. Their support and/or assistance will be discussed further too. I will update following a meeting with them in the shop which has been planned for before the ride.

2. The local media have been in touch and expressed their will to provide coverage- they were instructed to be as little invasive as possible (it is not a publicity stunt- it is a memorial ride after all). They will pay us a visit in the shop prior to the ride and I will update should anything change.

3. We have a few groups coming together and cycling towards the central meeting point at the Museum steps where the ride will join with the Critical Mass- the ride itself is not a feeder ride- if the CM wishes to join us we are riding towards their starting point for this very reason- as of yet no contact was made by CM and from what I was told there was no confirmation of their involvement (hopefully as of yet).

4. The route discussed with the police is to involve roads with 2 lanes of traffic to ensure the least disturbance possible. Due to no confirmation of support as of yet (therefore for planning reasons it has been assumed there would be no support at all) we will refrain from going onto single lane roads where possible. The proposed route is: Millenium Square to Rossington St to Woodhouse Ln to Albion St to Headrow to Westgate to Kirsktall Rd. We were instructed to obey the road signs and road rules or we will be stopped and the ride will have to discontinue.

5. The family of John’s is aware of the ride and we would like to make sure they do not witness any misbehave and they remember this as a tribute the cycling community of Leeds and beyond paid to a fellow fallen rider. We expressed our deepest condolences and we invited them to join us should they feel fine to do so. There is no confirmation of their appearance as of yet but please remember that they might be there guys- let’s stay civil and considerate.

6. The Aviators Cheer group was contacted too- they were also invited to join us although no official confirmation was received as of yet- once again this is a group of the very closest friends and colleagues of John’s- bear that in mind and again let’s stay civil and considerate.

7. There are some rumours of a few rider groups visiting from outside Leeds- no official confirmation as of yet so please bear with me on that. Should that happen let’s lead by example and considering all of the above let’s make this the bike ride that John would be proud of.

8. The general rules of cycling en masse will apply too guys- the weakest, the slowest, the most vulnerable riders are to be protected by those with the most experience. We are expecting kids and adults cyclists, and there are also a few pedestrians that will meet us there. Let’s stay safe, by any means necessary.

This is a follow up of a tragic accident, let’s not add to the drama. Let’s be nice, let’s be civil, let’s stay safe.

Yours truly #tbcleeds.

Merry Christmas

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

Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.

Thomas S. Monson
It has been long enough for the human beings to be taught to collect, gather and posses. It almost seems like it is in our nature this hoarding malfunction that stops us from sharing; not only our possessions but time and affection.
And then you have this social phenomenon of feeling hard on yourself when you get the time and affection shared with you. It seems like it is in our nature this social malfunction of embarrassment and guilt just because our year did not turn out like the others’.
So dear human fellow beings, we at The Bikes College C.I.C. wish you during this festive period to put the differences aside and enjoy the sharing. Whether you share whatever you have to offer or you were shared whatever you needed. You do enjoy your very Merry Christmas.
xmas
And look out for the others- you never know- there might be someone close who needs your helping hand. And if you or someone you  know feared that Santa will never make it to your/their house with the dream bike- let us know- as Santa stays in constant contact with us. At this time of the year we are an officially approved Santa Claus’ Bicycle Distribution Centre®. Seriously.

In it to win it.

consider, free, ride

You gotta be in it to win it.

Anonymous

It is a real pleasure to give stuff away for free to those who need it- we established that a while ago. It empowers you and makes you feel capable of bringing the change; it also delivers smiles and happiness aplenty. And if it is free it feels like trading goods for smiles and handshakes; and that feels simply amazing.

The most recent Adwalton Cricket Club raffle was held during the third weekend of August and we proudly supported the prize pool. The tickets were sold in big numbers and even we bought one to support the good cause.

IMG_20150816_135040

IMG_20150816_140119

The winner of our bike was Andrew and after a few hard choices (what handlebars, what gears, what pedals, a commuter, a mountain bike, what tyres, …) he got his new bike ready for collection.

IMG_20150904_213925_edit

We built him a commuter/townbike/hybrid Carrera with 21 gears, caliper brakes and skinny tyres to zoom through the town. And Andrew stated that he will send us a picture of himself with his bike soon too…

Have fun on it Andrew and ride on!

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!

‘…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…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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…

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.