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
You gotta be in it to win it.
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.
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.
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!
Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed,
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there.
J. K. Rowling ‘Harry Potter and the Sourcerer’s Stone’
Dear thieves and dodgy individuals,
We, at The Bikes College, would like to officially thank you for your generous input into the lives of all the common folk. We salute you for robbing the kids of their bikes. We take our hats in front of you for stealing from the town and city centres. We bow in half in front of you for getting your greasy fingers on the hard worked for wheels of the working folk. We salute you. For you keep us busy. For you create the void that we can fill. For you deliver the overwhelming tragedy and heartbreaking discoveries. We salute you.
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!
Life is all about just being a good person and helping others.
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 average family earning minimum wage spends 141 percent of their income struggling to meet basic needs – food, shelter, clothing.
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…
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.
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…
Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.
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.
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.
You cannot buy happiness but you can get a bike and that is pretty damn close.
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.
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!
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…
You are a tool.
To change the world!