All that glitters is not gold.

business, cheap, did you know, eco, friends, help, inspiration, recycle, repair

‘Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it. ‘

Henry David Thoreau

We have been quiet for so long we have been asked to write up a story or two about the cycling industry perspective on pandemic and the issues that came with it.

The small proportion of the world (here: the UK) has changed overnight in March 2019. The world as we knew it has stopped and we do not believe it will be back anytime soon. We found ourselves in the middle of one of the biggest crises the world has seen since the World War. Our team had to adapt and amend their ways overnight to accommodate for that change; it is a very small team for what we do and the amount of projects we are involved with, however efficient and tight knitted it might have happened to be.

In the last 2 years we have learnt a lot about people and even more about ourselves. People, strangers and friends, have put our patience, our professionalism, our humanity, our understanding, our humbleness, our compassion and our ability to remain calm to an ultimate test. We have failed many of these tests and we learnt the hard way that we have much to improve upon.

But we also have learnt a vast number of very valuable lessons that we will remember forever. We learnt the true meaning of friendship and the true cost of supporting people who do not appreciate your help. We learnt the importance of patience, we learnt the gravity of broken promises and the joy of changing lives. We kept Leeds going; at times as the only bike shop open in Leeds, we kept NHS cycling, we kept the other essential workers moving… It is an extreme privilege to be able to say we have pulled through this together and we thank those who helped us in doing so; whether they stayed or the chose to go.

We witnessed the most iconic increase in popularity of cycling and we were a part of things that made history. The Bikes College grew to exponential size yet we still thrive to continue to do what we do best- keep you cycling and keep looking for new stars of cycling.

We worked hard to keep Leeds cycling and occasionally it did backfire. As some old saying goes ‘it is not always gold if it glitters’ we also understand the price this growth comes at. The endless days, long shifts, numerous problems and issues, supply chain delays, staffing shortages, parts shortages, worries and fears, additional stress, additional workload… We feel like the last few months put as to some ultimate test. Despite the hick ups and a few teething problems we believe we came out of it stronger, smarter and significantly more mature as an enterprise.

We continued to be not for profit, we continued a number of grass root level programmes, we preserved the low prices and continued with the highest possible quality. We also maintained our sense of humour and an overall can-do attitude.

Whatever the price was- you guys made it worth it. and for this please accept many thanks.

Here’s to another few few years!!

#smilingchainlink #tbcleeds #builtnotbought #whobuildsyourwheels #tbcjasper #tbcstemcap #tbcmudguard

A tribute ride in memory of Leeds’ John Harkins

consider, crime, friends, help, inspiration, learn, ride, safety

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.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Louder than words

did you know, free, inspiration, recycle, repair, social

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

New friends keep us busy

business, friends, help, inspiration

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.

Sunny days just a smile away

free, friends, help, recycle

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!

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.