A teacher affects eternity as he can never tell where his influence stops.
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.
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.
J. learns how to mend his inner tube
J. teaches his own sister A. how to mend her puncture next day
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…
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.
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…
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.
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.
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!
It is never too early to involve kids in giving back. And the more hands-on the experiences are, the better.
Soleil Moon Frye
That is what we are trying to do at TBC as much as we can. We support the hands-on experience as much as possible.
Take E., in her early teens, who got a bike from us recently for a fraction of its real price. 2 days in a row she had punctures. On the first day we repaired it for her while talking her through the basics of puncture repairs- we taught the theory so she understood it before showing her more. She was back the very next day with exactly the same problem. You would not guess what’s happened then…
She understood the basics of punctures: the causes, the reasons, the tools needed, where to start, what to check for and what to expect. She is checking the tyre for stuck thorns and the potential damage to the tyre above.
She was capable of using the tools and equipment herself to help out actively. Her hands-on attitude was astonishing. She knew how use a pump and what pressures to inflate the tyre to.
She was keen to listen and follow instructions, willing to do the majority of the work herself. She has even remembered to release the vbrake noodle before taking the wheel off.
We helped with as few tasks as possible, majority of which were too big or too complicated for her- we loosened the wheelnuts and re-tightened them for her.
It took us approximately 20 minutes to resolve the issue entirely. Here she is putting the noodle back into its place once we were done. When we spoke about the experience we made E. aware that it is something she can do herself next time- with no supervision and with hardly any help. She even got a complimentary puncture repair kit.
We believe that no other ways would deliver the same result- we got E. involved, we supported her and watched her thriving when the trouble occurred.
This the way we do it here- this is The Bikes College’s way!
Any issues or failures that occur on your bike can quite often be resolved with a set of simple tools. It is however quite difficult to replace the specific parts when they go wrong. It costs a lot at times and can be sometimes can be only done by a qualified mechanic/technician. That is why we introduced a ‘ghetto repair’ series at which we will discuss heavily discounted or free alternatives to some of the expensive parts/repairs.
We will start with, in our opinion, most useful yet the simplest advice we were given long time ago; it will save you plenty of time and will make your life much easier. It is a ‘how-to’ on stopping cables from fraying when storing them.
Bicycle gear/brake cables are one of the most used and/or replaced parts on your bike. They make it possible to translate the shifter/lever pull into the brake arm/dérailleur action. The y are made of the number of thin steel wires twisted together; they are strong and robust while remaining flexible. When they are being replaced some of them are in a good enough condition to be stored and reused where needed.
The problem with a used cable is that you most likely have cut the end of it to trim it to required length and secured with a crimp. When the cable gets removed you remove the crimp making the cut end exposed and quite easy to untangle.
There are number of ways to store cables (flat, coiled, etc.) but none of them eradicates the need to protect the end of the cable. The best technique we discovered (so far anyway) is the use of the heat shrink that gets put on the end of the cable and heated up to snugly fit around the wires. The heat shrink will work on any cable, greasy or not, and will stay there forever.
When the cable is needed you can simply snip the end of it or slide the heat shrink off the end and you are ready to go…
Have you got any ghetto repairs on your bike or in your workshop that save time, money, stress or all combined?
Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me, and I’ll understand.
We were astonished by simplicity of this saying when it was first spotted during our visit to The Bristol Bike Project couple of years ago. It was there, on the wall, printed out across the numerous blank pieces of paper, staring at us constantly yet, ironically, remaining unnoticed.
We have followed the same principle through everything that we did in the last few years, unconsciously agreeing with its clear message. Every time the teaching or learning process occurs it is vital for the recipient to be alert and willing to take on the knowledge in question. When faced with a general verbal tuition the student tends to get distracted and simply bored of the material quite promptly. Although the verbal tuitions accompanied by the additional visual presentation significantly improve the contact and relationship between the student and the tutor it does not deliver any practical experience so valued and so necessary in the process of learning.
We realised that any kind of the tutor/student interaction improves the outcome of any TBC session. We get everyone involved- when working with our members we ensure that we use the industry terminology: we talk about dérailleurs not ‘the gear things’, we talk about cranksets not ‘the pedal thingies’ and so on. Children as little as 6 years old have visited our project and while learning with their parents they promptly picked up the terminology otherwise never used in front of them. The number of 11 years old that worked on their bikes with us told us that the barrel adjusters were sticky on their brake levers- something that would be quite difficult to explain using the same wording to their unaware parents. This is simply proving that when faced with the demand to be in the know our members step upto the challenge and learn much quicker and much more than they would during the standard tuition lessons. We always involve our members in our lessons- they work at their own pace in their own comfort zone as they are using their own bicycle as an experimenting tool and are surrounded by like-minded and like-aged people. This proves to be an extremely effective way of sharing knowledge- regardless of age, sex, background, etc.
Give us a shout if you would like to try this out- you will be surprised how much you did not know about your bike; and how much you can learn in a really short time!