Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.
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.
It gets extremely difficult to impose imagination and aspiration onto people. It is arduous to emphasise the importance of remaining imaginative while maintaining a helpful and cooperative approach.
The teaching is a long process and it takes a lot of patience. It also consumes your time and energy but the potential you create is astonishing. The productive minds will carry on even when the tuitions stop for the knowledge hunger is impossible to feed. There are an astonishing number of people who used our services and started visiting regularly ever since. They do come over, they help, they ask, they do want to know more. The variety of things we do is like a magnet for their curiosity. The specific repairs we carry out sometimes do attract attention; the attention to the things never to be seen otherwise. It must be an amazing experience to be able to learn how to repair the puncture or how to set up your brakes on your bike where the same day you can service an air sprung suspension fork.
It must be an amazing feeling to be able to witness and assist a process that was unknown. Dismantle things you have never held in your hands and discover things inside that you have never even heard of; name them, clean them, put back together- it has to be an amazing feeling to do that.
That is what happens around our workshop daily. We let them discover things they never heard of. They ask, they learn, they remember.
Everyone wants to belong, or be a part of something bigger than themselves…
This world is a strange place- as a pack animals we simply lost the skill of gathering and resolving issues using the advantage of numbers. We turn to solitarity in whatever we do these days- for reason unknown we are unable to join forces to resolve problems.
This is a picture that shows what The Bikes College does- we join forces, we resolve issues.
This is how 4 people cooperate closely to mend and repair a simple failure. This skill is highly valuable now- interacting and cooperating to find a solution to a problem:
‘…together we work harder…’
These are the very own words of one of them- and the average age between these four is 9 years old. Together it is easier to learn as it also is easier to teach.
We began our journey as a small project that is changing the lives of these who are simply responsible for our future; however unaware they might be. These young brains are the minds that will (and already are) shaping our future; these little minds are responsible for educating the next generations. We need to emphasise to them that it is important to be smart, to be imaginative, to be open-minded, to be sufficient, to be efficient, savy and cunning in whatever we do. We made it difficult to them, we have exploited resources and broken all the ancient rules. We took advantage of something that was set up for a number of generations and destroyed it in less than a century. And now our ignorance takes its toll on us.
We need to relearn the ancient art of cooperation- we promptly must join forces to ensure the future to remain as bright as we tend to paint it for ourselves. We are exploiting our youth, teaching them how to be ignorant and lazy, how to show no interest and to expect everything for nothing, how to take things for granted. And it must change. NOW!
Be a bigger person- teach a kid something new yourself. And do it now.
The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day.
Charles R. Swindoll
It slowly got to the point when we are doing much more than we ever wanted. We not only fix, repair, swap, replace and give bikes. We also get everyone together and get things done.
The other day we had a lovely opportunity to help a couple of kids from a distant estate. Their parents had a few things that they offered to donate to The Bikes College and we accepted these; there was a few of old items of clothing we use as rags, there were a few toys that we gave away straight away… She also brought a couple of old toddlers’ bikes which we offered for free immediately.
We found the new owners within minutes; Benjamin seems quite amused. Benjamin happened to be the youngest ever user of TBC- he just turned 2. He likes Buzz Lightyear and his new wheels will get him rolling now…
It took literally a couple of hours to get the bicycles from one person to another. It is amazing how things like these do not really happen on a daily basis. It is extremely strange that we, as pack animals, do not communicate anymore. We do not talk enough to maintain a basic interpersonal interaction. We are unable to use our own prowess to our own advantage.
You see it feels great to posses all these powers- the powers to change the world starting form our own back yard. Step by step we have the ability to turn things around and ensure that the world is a better place. And just like everyone else…
We struggle to explain to the majority of people on our way that what we do is not for profit. Despite our soon-to-be legal structure we are not working like a standard company.
When the bikes are being given away we prepare them so they are safe to use. Our target audience are children aged 7-15yo and despite their lack of understanding of safety they do receive bicycles that are built, serviced and maintained to a standard considered as high even at the high street bike stores.
We were contacted by so many people recently- we still cannot believe how many good words were said about what we do. We met people from miles away driving to donate an unwanted bicycle to us (thank you Tom), we had people donating 3 bikes at a time (thank you David)… We attracted some attention and we are simply gob-smacked by the amount of good vibes sent our way. We realised that there must be something right about what we do as we get busier now. Day in day out we have local kids coming down with stuff to fix, tubes to patch up, wheels to pump up, bikes to mend and more. We get the same faces on a regular basis but they also bring friends; and they bring friends. And their friends.
The Bikes College got as busy as never before and people know who we are and what we do. We also increased our turnover whilst still working as a voluntarily project- we do not get paid for what we do. We would like to be able to create few work spaces soon and we are working towards it but at this time we are still relying only on donations and handful of sales. We do sell approximately 15% of our bikes not for profit but to keep what we do as a free service to all. We repair punctures for free, that would normally cost you at least £5; we replace brake shoes for free, that would normally cost you £3 per set; we replace the old and rusty cables and outers, that would normally cost you £1 per cable. You see all that has to come from somewhere and without your kind donations and few sales these costs would have to be covered by you guys. We also swap bikes- you bring us yours we will give you ours- more suitable, better, bigger, etc. Next time you think we are are not doing enough go to the bike shop and try to buy an inner tube, get it fitted, pumped up, your tyre and rim checked up- for a smile and a handshake.
You see we do it for about that much. And sometimes not even that; for sometimes it is too much to ask for.
The Bikes College, since its very first day, was about turning waste and unwanted stuff into something that others can turn into a functional machinery. We get bicycles that feel and look pretty sorry for themselves and turn them into fully functional ‘vehicles’; ‘vehicles’ that power the people so they can go, think and act outside the box. To be free and to be mobile; as the human beings should be.
Number of people, projects and authorities got in touch since the article offering help on so many levels that we struggle to comprehend the extend of TBC’s impact. We got offered bikes, clothes, food, more bikes…
We receive a lot of kind donations at The Bikes College so we are slowly giving it all away for free!
NB. the recent donation from TRJFP has brought a lot of smiles upto the project. Thank you guys!!!
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.
We give an astonishing number of bikes away for free. We get them refurbished to safe standards and simply seek kids in the area that need a bicycle. For numerous reasons there are plenty of children around Leeds (and beyond we believe) that simply do not have a bicycle.
A bicycle is a childhood related gift, an attachment to your childhood; when you think about your adolescence there is a bike somewhere, sometime there… You get a bicycle and it changes everything- you discover ‘distant’ lands, be a 4 miles away city centre or 1 mile away next estate. You discover and you travel, you become independent and the bike is responsible for it. It fills us up with a great sadness when people do not treat that privilege with all due respect.
When you get a gift of freedom it is an extreme selfishness to simply let it disappear; to contribute towards is even a greater sin.
We realised that our gifts are sometimes simply abused and it gets us truly sad. It is an extremely heartbreaking experience; it gets us feeling regretful and low-spirited. We expect the kids we help to simply ride the bikes they have been given and to enjoy themselves; we do not want anyone taking us and our gifts for granted. It is truly a sorrowful happening.
Dear people of Leeds and beyond- this is to make you aware that there are people who care and who are passionate about these little gems you have been given- please look after them for this will make us as happy as we can get. Then we rest assured that what we do is a great cause and is indeed appreciated. Thank you.
It occurs to us on a daily basis that bike theft is indeed a shared effort. An effort that requires so many parts to get involved on a regular basis.
It takes as two to tango as it takes two for a crime to occur: it takes a criminal and a victim. We stood in the city centre today patiently observing the fellow cyclists locking up their bikes to the railing in one of the busiest spots in town; quite a paradox it is also one of the black spots in town for bike theft. This was the time when it simply struck us as an obvious issue: bike theft (apart from all the self-evident reasons) happens because WE ALLOW IT to happen. There was a number of cyclists using cheap and easy to brake cable locks; there was a significant number of people locking their bikes up so they can still be stolen quite easily; there was an amazing amount of naivety that simply accompanied the majority of town cyclists…
You see it is also our, the cyclists, responsibility to ensure the bike theft stops and stops soon. It is up to us to make sure that we use the good quality locks on daily basis; it is down to us to ensure that we know how to and do lock our bikes in the correct way; it is also our responsibility to register our bikes so if they go missing we can report it; it is also on us to report it once it happens.
The above picture shows you how to lock your bike properly using a good quality Dlock and (optionally) the additional cable lock. This way your bike is secured and its vital components are locked (frameset and wheels). This will not deter thieves- do not be fooled- BUT it will keep the opportunist robbers away and it will delay anyone trying to part you with your bike.
The registration with (numerous) free services is a good step to take as well. Visit Immobilise to register your bike (and any other additional goods) and take the advantage of the free registration where you can create a database of your possessions and store their serial numbers and other identifiers should any of them go missing. Stolen Bikes UK is another good resource where you can report your bike as stolen but also check for any reports in case you are questioning the source of your new-second-hand-bike-to-be. Another place where you can check prior to buying is Check That Bike where you simply put a frame number in and inspect any ‘bad’ history in relation to your future purchase.
You see, fellow cyclists, it is also down to us to ensure that the bike theft is eradicated. We need to take action and show initiative to simply fight back. We cannot rely on the overstretched services that (quite unfortunately) do not treat bike theft as seriously as they should. It is us who lose out at the end and without any doubt we need to show how to do it properly to everyone else…
Register it. Check it. Lock it. Report it. Do not buy if the origin is unclear. Ride on!