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.
We do our stuff all the time. Daily chores, bikes in bikes out. We rely heavily on word of mouth and recommendations. We pride ourselves in what we do as we do it on a small and local scale- we start locally to change the world globally.
But recently it occurred to us that we could do with some serious advertising so we can grow bigger and better; that is beyond the workshop expansion. We realised that people are asking about us and they want to know more. And instead of telling them to contact us on Facebook or Twitter or even WordPress we could simply give them our business card. So we ventured out and got some beauties printed…
We have already given out quite a few and we will carry on handing them out like there is no tomorrow…
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!
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!