A tribute ride in memory of Leeds’ John Harkins

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Come and join us for a memorial ride to Kirkstall Road. We will gather starting from 5pm to leave the shop on Copley Hill about 545pm. The plan is to get the Critical Mass gathering for 6pm and let them join us on the memorial ride to pay our respects to the fallen John Harkins who tragically lost his life in the Kirkstall Road tragedy on 14th November 2016. Invite whoever you believe might be interested and spread the word please. We plan to be at the scene of the accident about 630pm. Have no bike? Come and join us on foot.

1. The police has been in touch now and they are aware of the ride- we discussed the implications of the large gathering and the potential (although still unintended) disturbance to the traffic in the area. I am awaiting further instructions and additional comments and/or arrangements from the senior officer of the local police. Their support and/or assistance will be discussed further too. I will update following a meeting with them in the shop which has been planned for before the ride.

2. The local media have been in touch and expressed their will to provide coverage- they were instructed to be as little invasive as possible (it is not a publicity stunt- it is a memorial ride after all). They will pay us a visit in the shop prior to the ride and I will update should anything change.

3. We have a few groups coming together and cycling towards the central meeting point at the Museum steps where the ride will join with the Critical Mass- the ride itself is not a feeder ride- if the CM wishes to join us we are riding towards their starting point for this very reason- as of yet no contact was made by CM and from what I was told there was no confirmation of their involvement (hopefully as of yet).

4. The route discussed with the police is to involve roads with 2 lanes of traffic to ensure the least disturbance possible. Due to no confirmation of support as of yet (therefore for planning reasons it has been assumed there would be no support at all) we will refrain from going onto single lane roads where possible. The proposed route is: Millenium Square to Rossington St to Woodhouse Ln to Albion St to Headrow to Westgate to Kirsktall Rd. We were instructed to obey the road signs and road rules or we will be stopped and the ride will have to discontinue.

5. The family of John’s is aware of the ride and we would like to make sure they do not witness any misbehave and they remember this as a tribute the cycling community of Leeds and beyond paid to a fellow fallen rider. We expressed our deepest condolences and we invited them to join us should they feel fine to do so. There is no confirmation of their appearance as of yet but please remember that they might be there guys- let’s stay civil and considerate.

6. The Aviators Cheer group was contacted too- they were also invited to join us although no official confirmation was received as of yet- once again this is a group of the very closest friends and colleagues of John’s- bear that in mind and again let’s stay civil and considerate.

7. There are some rumours of a few rider groups visiting from outside Leeds- no official confirmation as of yet so please bear with me on that. Should that happen let’s lead by example and considering all of the above let’s make this the bike ride that John would be proud of.

8. The general rules of cycling en masse will apply too guys- the weakest, the slowest, the most vulnerable riders are to be protected by those with the most experience. We are expecting kids and adults cyclists, and there are also a few pedestrians that will meet us there. Let’s stay safe, by any means necessary.

This is a follow up of a tragic accident, let’s not add to the drama. Let’s be nice, let’s be civil, let’s stay safe.

Yours truly #tbcleeds.

We are open!

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“Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those doing it.”

Chinese proverb

We have started our journey a few years back in Bristol as a small project with a huge vision. It took us almost 5 years to come to what we are now. We have started dreaming about our own small space to fill it up with our huge vision shortly after. It took us almost 3 years to find the space we wanted.

Now we are happy to announce that The Bikes College has settled down in Leeds in our new premises. It is a building that we have taken under our wings in attempt to turn it into what used to be a dream. Now it has become a reality and we cannot be more happy for that.

The Bikes College CIC is now open daily on Copley Hill, Leeds, LS12. Come by and say hello. Bring your bike too as in bikes we trust.

In it to win it.

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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!

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.

‘…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…

New friends keep us busy

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Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Albert Camus

So many people responded to our correspondence; so many people are willing to give up their time to meet and talk to us; so many people are simply lending a helping hand…

There are a number of bodies and individuals that provided priceless help and continue to do so. These people and their time are highly appreciated and without them we would simply not be where we are at the moment.

We would like to thank following authorities, bodies and people behind them (this list is constantly growing and we appreciate support of some who might not have made it to the list yet):

 

All the above and their staff hold a significant part of our success and with their outstanding support we will grow bigger and better. We promise.

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.

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!