Happy birthday.

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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!

Merry Christmas

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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
It has been long enough for the human beings to be taught to collect, gather and posses. It almost seems like it is in our nature this hoarding malfunction that stops us from sharing; not only our possessions but time and affection.
And then you have this social phenomenon of feeling hard on yourself when you get the time and affection shared with you. It seems like it is in our nature this social malfunction of embarrassment and guilt just because our year did not turn out like the others’.
So dear human fellow beings, we at The Bikes College C.I.C. wish you during this festive period to put the differences aside and enjoy the sharing. Whether you share whatever you have to offer or you were shared whatever you needed. You do enjoy your very Merry Christmas.
xmas
And look out for the others- you never know- there might be someone close who needs your helping hand. And if you or someone you  know feared that Santa will never make it to your/their house with the dream bike- let us know- as Santa stays in constant contact with us. At this time of the year we are an officially approved Santa Claus’ Bicycle Distribution Centre®. Seriously.

Stop nodding

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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!

‘…I want to ride my bicycle…’

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The average family earning minimum wage spends 141 percent of their income struggling to meet basic needs – food, shelter, clothing. 

Sherrod Brown

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…

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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.

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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…

Old friends new things

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…there is no such a thing like free…

Local phrase

We have had a busy time at The Bikes College in the last few weeks. We had a few interesting conversations that can lead to more good things- keep your eyes peeled so you can be upto date.

Some new faces appeared in our workshop; some old faces returned to our workshop. The bicycles are in and out of the workshop keeping us busy at all times. We also started teaching kids how to ride bicycles too. As you can tell we have been busy…

J. and S. have visited us recently too.

IMG_20140624_171202S.’s bike suddenly gave in and he simply needed a ride so we built this bike with him within a couple of hours so he can carry on riding. J. on the other hand has had a chance to get a new bike which went missing shortly after. It was also found within couple of days which is amazing. It appeared that people responsible for theft were not strangers either. Since then he invested in a good quality D-lock that we provided for approximately half of the high street price.

IMG_20140624_171219J. is one of these who pay attention; he learns and he is keen to teach too. he helps out on a regular basis and we are glad we can work together. We also worked on his other bike- a beloved MTB bike that needs new tyres occasionally. J. has received a Continental Baron tyre from us so he can try it out on some serious trails.

These two are identified with TBC around our closest area. They are helpful; they learn; they teach. Although they do not qualify to be one of our directors they surely deserve it and we would like to welcome them to our board as soon as they turn 16. Individuals like these two are what drives us to remain productive; people like them are we believe capable of changing the way the future generation looks at the world around them. They do understand the issues surrounding them and they are working towards the change. They recognise the impact of crime; they see the education gap; they understand different needs; they go riding (with us sometimes too); they look after and help maintain riding trails in the area; they address issues accordingly and they never stop to learn. When we look at them we realise that what we do is working and it is working well…

That is why we do not plan on stopping any time soon.

Louder than words

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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.

Sunny days just a smile away

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You cannot buy happiness but you can get a bike and that is pretty damn close.

Anonymous

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.

IMG_20140625_170724

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!

Be a bigger one

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Everyone wants to belong, or be a part of something bigger than themselves…

Emily Giffin

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.

punctures with girls (1)

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.

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…

IMG-20140603-WA000

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?