No better place than…?

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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.

Happy birthday.

birthday, business, cheap, did you know, friends, help, recycle, repair

It is not going to work.

Everyone

We could bore you with endless statistics. We could then proceed with some numbers and facts. And then possibly some case studies. We could follow it with an endless list of people and projects we helped. Or just quote the feedback we received. We could complain about the long hours. Or shout about the impact we have made on some folk’s lives. But we will not…

David woke up one day with a dream; call it a vision. A dream that not many understood and certainly not many believed in. He then persevered to make it come true. The Bikes College has started on that day; a small idea that took over David’s life. He has heard it all: ‘it is not going to work‘ followed by ‘are you mad‘ and often accompanied by ‘are you kidding me‘… Now to save you from a lot of jargon and boring detail let us fast forward to April 2017. Today is the 1st anniversary of the TBC shop opening on Copley Hill in Leeds. It has been 12 months which is 52 weeks which is 365 days which is 8760 hours of David’s life committed to something that according to many others had no chance of existing. This is history; still in making.

We have turned over almost 2000 bikes. Yes that is two thousand bikes since we opened our doors; that is on average 39 bicycles every week. We sold some to ensure that we can do what we do with absolutely no financial support from anyone- we still do not receive funding, we still do not ask for grants, we still do not rely on donations. We dismantled some of the above to ensure that our spare parts room is full of shiny bits to make your bikes run smooth. We gave some to different projects in Leeds and beyond to ensure that they can do even more. We also gave some away to ensure that anyone can get a bike without the need to ask for one should they feel no need to do so. And every time we created non salvageable ferrous waste we gave it away to the local small businesses free of charge to ensure that our rubbish can become someone else’s treasure. That is how we started after all…

The journey that you have witnessed is just a beginning and we will grow bigger and bigger; we promise! But we recognise and appreciate some help and support without which David’s dream would have never materialised. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Amelia D.- thank you for joining TBC and thank you for reminding David what is important at the most crucial moments
  • Janice F.- thank your for this life changing chat and a cup of Earl Grey in the middle of Bramley a few years ago, and for bringing Ed W. too
  • Ed W.- thank you for bringing ideas together and brain storming them to explain the bigger picture
  • Kev and Sylvie- thank you for the inspiration and the positive vibes that transformed some dark energy into something so powerful that it still surprises David even after all these years
  • everyone at The Bristol Bike Project- we salute you guys for you have laid the foundations for TBC
  • Nick from The Bristol Pedal Revolution- thank you for the endless chitchat and the wacky ideas
  • Harvey from The Bike Bunker- thank you for showing David what is important in life
  • the Leeds City Council- thank you for everything for without you guys this would have never flourished as much
  • Roger F.- thank you for your help and support, and for your invaluable advice
  • John P.- thank you for your help and support (and all these contacts you have)
  • The Pedallers’ Arms- thank you for opening a few doors that have led to the conception of TBC
  • Bike Mill- thank you for supporting the same cause and making Leeds the cycling capital of the North
  • Tom and  Edna M.- for pointing out how unique David’s idea was
  • Ruth D.- thank you for bringing ideas together and painting even bigger picture
  • Marek S.- for invaluable bespoke business advice
  • Raitis- thank you for keeping the fleet running
  • Conor W.- thank you for another point of view and invaluable advice
  • Pip B.- thank you for everything (period)

 

 

…this is just a beginning!

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!

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.

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.

Important news come right in time for summer

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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.

It is fine not to know

consider, did you know, friends, inspiration, learn, repair, what is

Common sense is not so common.

Voltaire

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.IMG_20140615_144830

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.

Because it is still fine not to know.

In it all together?

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Many activities and team play participation will give you a training that will prove invaluable later on in life.

Walter Annenberg

It is busy at The Bikes College. People are calling from as far as Yeadon to donate bikes. Kids need bikes in Pudsey. If we were honest it got slightly overwhelming lately…

But what never changed is the impact of what we do. And we do it everyday. We are also happy to expand our standard services. We swapped bikes with few people recently- they donate theirs and we give them something more suitable or simply what they fancied more. We did that with S. recently- he was desperate for a new bike; he was helping out with J. a lot lately and we promised to keep an eye out for him.

image

So when S. appeared at our door one day with a half a bike to ‘build it’ we made a deal with him- he surrenders whatever he brought (too big, half of it missing, etc.) and we will get him a BMX; 3 days later here he is- with his brand new ride. After a prompt confirmation with his parents that it is all fine to exchange we got another smiling kid. On a bike…

IMG_20140530_154449hhhhhHhhHere is (from right) S., J. and their friend C. C. has heard about us from J. and S. and came around a few times to fix a few minor things on his bike. He is quite obviously too big for his bike and we agreed that when we have something for him we will swap with him too- C. will be back in a couple of days (he does not know yet).

 

They keep coming back. Bringing more friends that are willing to chat, to repair, to learn, to participate. You know- after all we are all in it together, right?