It is fine not to know

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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.

You are a tool too

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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…

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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!

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.

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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?

One shall change regardless!

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 It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

Frederick Douglass

It was a bit of a busy bank holiday weekend at The Bikes College. We had some familiar faces visiting with the typical “My tyre’s popped!” and some new faces too. K. popped in one day to ask if we could swap a frame and wheels for him on his BMX. He brought T. with him, his BMX riding buddy, cheerful and keen to help. We set the time and the date, and got prepared for a bike strip/bike build. The fun begun…

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T. and K. worked together from the very beginning, supporting and helping each other with various tasks; i.e. tyre replacement, inflating the tubes, etc. They worked hard together and the old BMX was disassembled, new frame assembled, new wheels put on, tyres pumped and the bike ready to go within 3 hours. When questioned about the spare frame and the wheels that K. had left from his original BMX he stated that he might (quote: ‘possibly’) donate them to T. so he can upgrade his own BMX shortly. It is a great example of how the local kids start working together and share things amongst each other for the benefit of all. K. and T. live nearby, they do not go to the same school and know each other only by the means of riding together. They have also built a bike together as of today.

Another sideline story that gives us the reason to be proud of K. is the fact that he had a free bicycle he got from us initially. He then got his bmx given to him by his parents. He gave his old bicycle, then surplus to requirements, away for free to someone on his street. Then he came to us to upgrade his frame and wheels. The old bmx will most likely be given away. For free. Again.

There is that amazing feeling of accomplishment that accompanies our sessions recently. That amazing feeling of fulfilment and ability to change mindsets. To breed behaviours. To inspire. To initiate change. That is what we do you see, we change them. Without them knowing. And it feels great!

Pay back what you never owed

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A great accomplishment should never be the end of the road; just a starting point for the next leap forward.

Harvey Mackay

This very rainy day we were featured in Yorkshire Evening Post following an interview with a columnist Neil Hudson. It made us very proud of what we do and we would like to thank everyone involved in The Bikes College.

tbc team

The article, available as an e-version online, has been an astonishing two pages long feature in YEP’s News Focus on page 6.

The article has had an amazing impact on our project already. We have numerous mentions all over the social media and the emails started flooding in. We had local authorities, more press, old friends, current friends, friends’ friends and plenty  more enquiring and sharing the story.

We would like to thank Neil Hudson, Tony Johnson and Simon Hulme for putting this story together. We also send our thanks to Leeds City Council Housing Office, Stonham, Barca LeedsSpeedy Leeds Deliveries Ltd and plenty others- you all know who you are guys. We would like to send our compliments to all our supporters- without you we would never be here!

We will continue to grow much faster now- we promise!

Rumour has it!

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You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments or publicity.

Thomas Wolfe

Times are always difficult for projects like ours- the austerity measures all across the most important fields to spend more on trivialities- it gets difficult to keep up the good work and stay enthusiastic.

But what gets us going is the same that makes us smile everytime someone leaves the workshop with a grin on their face. That feeling of being appreciated for what we do- not why, not for how much, not who for- it is WHAT we do that gets us going. It delivers the same pleasure every time- it never fails to satisfy the internal need to help the others to get something vital in life- the freedom. The freedom to travel, the freedom to discover, the freedom to learn, the freedom to share, the freedom to teach, the freedom of being free.

What is extremely heart-warming is the fact that this very feeling of satisfaction and achievement upon completion is indeed very contagious. It emanates, it lingers around, it merges with good vibes and the friendly atmosphere. And it is infectious- it spreads faster that a common cold. And it goes beyond our small team, it goes further; it goes beyond the team of our users, it goes further; it goes beyond the boundaries of Bramley, it goes further than that too. It gets so strong and so contagious that people start talking about us- rumour has it that we are getting recognised for what we do. We are getting recognised by local authorities and media. The word about the team of passionate bike fixers spreads like a fever!

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We never suspected that what we do is so recognised. It fills us with pride that we can do this and we would like to thank everyone involved. We will not stop now- the future looks brighter than ever and we will grow bigger and stronger!

Behaviour breeds behaviour

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A teacher affects eternity as he can never tell where his influence stops.

Henry Adams

Remember J. from few days ago; J. who was taught by C. how to repair a puncture? He came back again with a friend of his. S. is 8 years old and he knows J. as they live closeby. This time again we sat back and let J. take initiative and deliver a quick tuition in puncture repairs.

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Initially we were keen to help all the way but shortly realised that J. is a comfortable leader. He took over immediately and explained to S. how to repair a puncture step by step.

TBC always encourages team work and learning together- be it big groups or just a couple of friends. We emphasise the need to work on solutions together, putting age barriers and any other differences aside, to deliver what is simply an astonishing result. It is extremely inspirational where we witness local kids learning one day and teaching what they learnt the day after. Meet J., 11 years old, who was struggling to repair his puncture just a couple of days ago and today he was teaching his own sister A. who is 6 years old. The impact of that kind of interactions, in a family or amongst friends or even strangers, is impossible to explain.

Kids, interacting at the basic social levels, learning and teaching at the same time, looking after each other and each others’ property, understanding the importance of teamwork and helping…

This is the message we want to spread. In Leeds to start with. And beyond…

What would you do with this gift?

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Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.

Confucius

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.

rust

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.

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How to talk to strangers

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We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

It was a normal day at The Bikes College– sunny day, a few kids around with typical bike problems: few punctures, few dropped chains… One of the kids C. who has not been for a few days visited to get his hubs serviced and brakes set up. We worked with him for a couple of hours and we got his hubs much better than they have been for at least a couple of weeks. C. finished his hubs and set up his brakes and as he was getting ready to go J. came with a flat back tyre. We asked J. to wait up while getting a drink for all of us. C. mentioned he can help out if he can. We told J. that C. knows how to do the punctures now. What happened next was beyond our expectations…

 

C. jumped onto J.’s bike immediately. They had the back wheel off within seconds. We came out with the drinks and realised that we simply do not need to intervene- what was happening right in front of our very eyes was something we are trying to achieve with everyone who visits TBC- they worked together to resolve an issue with one of the bikes. C. and J. are the same age (12yo), they go to the same school, they live at the same estate however they never met before. They were working side by side and C. was teaching J. what to do, how to do it, what to use, what to avoid and so on.

 

We just sat back and watched them thriving in a new environment- and boy were they enjoying themselves…

Ownership makes it personal

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Nobody washes a rental car.

Scott J. Simmerman Ph. D.

It takes a lot of bonding to create a possessive relationship known as ownership. The tears, the sweat, the tiredness and the workmanship are required to achieve the end product.

Repairing or building a bike is a great example. It is a process which takes time, commitment and then some more time and commitment. Through these two we learn that love/hate relationship with our own bicycle. We love it as it is like a child of our own- we grew it, we moulded it, we made it what it is. We hate is as it gave us headaches and sleepless nights, it made us bankrupt on numerous occasions and it also jeopardised the future of our relationships with friends, partners, family and the rest of the world… That demanding love/hate relationship creates something that  no money can buy; it is something that is possible to create using only time and attachment.

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It is a difficult task to create that kind of attachment amongst the youngsters these days. The process starts when you give them something that can care for; give the man a fish saying springs into our minds again. We give them a bike- refurbished and recycled mean of transport which they need to look after and cherish like their own. It never cost them anything but that is the reason why they appreciate it so much- it is a gift, not a purchase. They learn how to look after it, how to repair it, how it works and how to know when it fails.

The journey starts when a kid gets a bicycle from us. They come over and work with us to make it safe and ready to go. They set the brakes up, they set the gears up, they repair a puncture. That gives them time to appreciate what they initially received and to look after it. This is the beginning of a journey. Within few hours one can tell if the bike someone is working on will be appreciated…

They study; they learn; they build; they appreciate; they love.