A great accomplishment should never be the end of the road; just a starting point for the next leap forward.
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.
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.
You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments or publicity.
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!
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!
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 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!
…help me out when I need it and I shall be there for you when you need me…
Our project, while focusing on being as self sufficient as possible, is still a small community project that would not make it without the help of others. It is amazing how involved people are getting and how much difference only little help can make.
A local company that we had a pleasure of dealing with on numerous occasions has helped more than anyone else. Speedy Leeds Delivery is a local to Bramley delivery company that has helped to pick up our donated bicycles few times.
Their service is astonishing and we would like to thank them for their help.