In it to win it.

consider, free, ride

You gotta be in it to win it.

Anonymous

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.

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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.

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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!

Stop nodding

consider, council, free, recycle, repair, social

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!

Together we can do it better

business, cheap, eco, free, friends, help, learn, repair, share, social

Life is all about just being a good person and helping others.

Unknown

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 apple does not fall far from the tree

did you know, help, inspiration, learn, repair

The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.

Barack Obama

It sometimes occurs to us suddenly that we have undertaken the most difficult job around. We are willing to make sure that kids surrounding us feel motivated to learn and to do things that noone has ever told them are possible. When one gets faced by a problem one faces a choice- a puzzling dilemma between the creativity and procrastination. We get surrounded by local kids on a regular basis- kids with simple problems with their bikes; there are punctures, worn tyres, broken brakes; there are boys, girls, children and kids.

There is one special kid, a boy aged 7, who managed to learn to ride his bike properly less than 2 years ago. He went on a long journey from a small bike with stabilisers to a geared mountain bicycle. And a BMX should he fancy a simpler ride. His name is Luka and he constantly stays around. He watches and he learns. He learns to ride every day. But what he learnt without us noticing is to watch and remember. A few days ago a couple of local teens came along; older than Luka and visiting us regularly too; they had a puncture.

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Luka took initiative; he put whatever he has learnt to use immediately; he taught too; he explained and showed the techniques. He knew specific spanner size for the wheel nuts, he knew how to check for punctures and how to repair it. We realise that Luka was watching- he has taken notes and he has put to use all that he has learnt. He is constantly around. And he never stops learning.

My name is David and I am one of the co-founders of The Bikes College. Luka is my son.

‘…I want to ride my bicycle…’

cheap, consider, free, friends, help, inspiration, recycle, repair, safety, share

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

business, crime, friends, help, inspiration, learn, recycle, repair, ride, social, theft

…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.

It is fine not to know

consider, did you know, friends, inspiration, learn, repair, what is

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.

Too much for a few

cheap, consider, free, friends, recycle, repair, safety

Strive not to be a success but rather of a value.

Albert Einstein

We struggle to explain to the majority of people on our way that what we do is not for profit. Despite our soon-to-be legal structure we are not working like a standard company.

When the bikes are being given away we prepare them so they are safe to use. Our target audience are children aged 7-15yo and despite their lack of understanding of safety they do receive bicycles that are built, serviced and maintained to a standard considered as high even at the high street bike stores.

We were contacted by so many people recently- we still cannot believe how many good words were said about what we do. We met people from miles away driving to donate an unwanted bicycle to us (thank you Tom), we had people donating 3 bikes at a time (thank you David)… We attracted some attention and we are simply gob-smacked by the amount of good vibes sent our way. We realised that there must be something right about what we do as we get busier now. Day in day out we have local kids coming down with stuff to fix, tubes to patch up, wheels to pump up, bikes to mend and more. We get the same faces on a regular basis but they also bring friends; and they bring friends. And their friends.

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The Bikes College got as busy as never before and people know who we are and what we do. We also increased our turnover whilst still working as a voluntarily project- we do not get paid for what we do. We would like to be able to create few work spaces soon and we are working towards it but at this time we are still relying only on donations and handful of sales. We do sell approximately 15% of our bikes not for profit but to keep what we do as a free service to all. We repair punctures for free, that would normally cost you at least £5; we replace brake shoes for free, that would normally cost you £3 per set; we replace the old and rusty cables and outers, that would normally cost you £1 per cable. You see all that has to come from somewhere and without your kind donations and few sales these costs would have to be covered by you guys. We also swap bikes- you bring us yours we will give you ours- more suitable, better, bigger, etc. Next time you think we are are not doing enough go to the bike shop and try to buy an inner tube, get it fitted, pumped up, your tyre and rim checked up- for a smile and a handshake.

You see we do it for about that much. And sometimes not even that; for sometimes it is too much to ask for.

Pay back what you never owed

friends, help, inspiration, share, social

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!

Get on yer bike!

eco, inspiration

“…revolution will be mobilised…”

We are surrounded by means of transport that rely on perishable resources. One who needs to travel needs to exchange their resources to obtain the means of travel. In plain English it is money that you pay for travelling by means of transport destined to collapse upon the oil reserves drying out.

measurements

You see a bicycle is different. It gives you the only chance to be independent and as transport savy as one can get. It also does not leave you addicted to consumable resources that you cannot replace. It gets you mobile regardless of the political or economical state of affairs. It also gets you smiling and keeps you physically active and fit. When the bad times come you can turn the broken/malfunctioned/faulty bicycle into a smoothly running machine using only handfull of tools and a bit of maintenance knowledge. When the bicycle gives in entirely you can find places that will accept it as a donation and refurbish it to pass it onto the next lucky owner; just like we do.

You see a bicycle is different. Ironically it brings people together despite the fact it is not a form of public transport. It gets people mobile and happy. It supports the transport and mindset revolution that is happening all around the world. You see a bicycle is different- it mobilises that revolution. Hop on your bike and be a part of the mobilised revolution.