Last week the Bike Mill Owl spread its wings and flew* over to Bradford for the Women & Cycling conference. On arrival we found ourselves in a brilliantly packed room full of people, stalls, info stands & participatory activities.
The morning talks heard stories from ladies from all cycles of life. It was really moving to hear how cycling had positively impacted so many women… and we were inspired to hear tales of gaining confidence & independence, improving mental health & managing depression, feeling fitter & happier, exploring new places, challenging perceptions, making friends & strengthening communities.
However it was also saddening to hear how many barriers women and girls still face to getting on a bike. Velo City Girl‘s experience in a bike shop (when buying her first bike after a 10-year break) was one such example. Expecting all beginner riders to know exactly what bike they want, how to fit it themselves & even know how to adjust a bike is a bizarre assumption, at best. Luckily, it didn’t put her off – but it might do some people – and this highlights the responsibility the cycle industry has to ensure it is open to everyone. (We hope everyone always feels they can ask questions when buying a bike with us!)
Representation of diverse women in cycling was a strong theme throughout the day. In particular the need to challenge the notion that to be a “proper cyclist” you have to be this, have that, or know everything about bikes already. If you’re sitting on a bike, you are a cyclist. Inspiring young women, especially black & minority ethnic women, to see cycling as a safe / fun / viable option was advocated by all, and was being awesomely demonstrated by so many groups in the room, including Girls Gotta Ride Cycling Club & Onna Bike Community Club.
We were flattered to be invited to hold a discussion on engaging women from asylum seeker & refugee communities in cycling. This was based on the work we’ve been doing in our pilot project funded by Leeds Community Foundation. We were grateful to all the ideas that were shared around the table and excited to hear that similar projects may be starting up elsewhere. Importantly though, the people who should shape such projects are the women themselves. We are committed to widening participation, and encouraging more (and different) people to our workshop – but we don’t have all the answers for how to do that and don’t want to assume we know best. So if you want to get more involved, or have an idea of something that would really help you cycle more, please let us know.
*Actually, it was very lazy & got a lift from the peloton of ladies who cycled with us from Leeds to Bradford along the cycle superhighway. And it ate most of the doughnuts.
Saturdays // 3rd, 10th & 17th June // 10am – 4pm // at our workshop
Show your bike some love
Get help repairing and maintaining your bike in our well-equipped workshop. There will be mechanics on hand who will work with you to identify what needs to be done and to help you do it yourself. We’ve got a limited amount of things like brake pads, cables and chains available for free to help reduce the cost.
2nd hand bikes for sale
We will have a range of refurbished second hand bikes for sale priced from £60 upwards for adult bikes and from £15 for kids bikes. These have all been serviced by a qualified Leeds Bike Mill mechanic.
Stay for a while – chat to others, pick up a map, find out about local cycling groups and enjoy a coffee or tea and a sweet treat.
This event will no doubt be an informative and inspiring day for anyone interested in cycling! It’ll be a great chance to share and celebrate cycling experiences, look at new cycling developments and opportunities, develop networks, and discuss how to increase and widen participation.
We’re riding the Cycle Superhighway from Leeds to Bradford on the morning of the conference. The 10 mile route is mostly on segregated cycle paths, and we’ll be taking it at a nice, easy pace. If you haven’t tried it already, it’ll give you a chance to check out the superhighway with experienced riders. Everyone who joins will also receive some bike freebies, kindly provided by City Connect!
Meet 7.45am at our workshop for an 8am grand depart. More info on our facebook page, or drop us an email if you have any questions or want to make sure we don’t leave without you!
Due to increasing interest, we’ve decided to run some Bike Maintenance courses for women, taught by female mechanics. We’ve set the following dates, booking will shortly be available via our training courses page:
Intro to Bike Maintenance on Tuesday 27th June 5-9pm
Advanced Bike Maintenance Saturday 1st – Sunday 2nd July 10am-6pm
Hope to see you at one or all of these… Happy cycling everyone!
Whatever kind of cyclist you are (or hope to become!), having the ability to maintain and repair your bike has loads of benefits. Here are our top five:
1. Save money. Many routine repairs and adjustments can be done at home with just a few basic tools. Catching problems early will prevent them turning into major (and expensive!) issues. For example, regularly replacing your brake pads and chain will keep more expensive bike parts happy for longer. We teach when and how to do these on our intro courses, so a small investment now could save you further down the line. For the more in-depth jobs, you can visit a community bike workshop – such as our sister project, Pedallers’ Arms – to access the lesser-used and more expensive tools that you don’t need to own yourself. Our 2-day course is £125; you could easily pay that for a professional service, but if you choose the course you’ll end up with a fully serviced bike plus the skills to do it again next time!
2. It makes your bike safer to ride. The ability to spot and fix wear & tear early on is very, very valuable – not just for your wallet but for your safety (and those around you!). The thing about bikes is, small routine issues can snowball into big major issues if left unchecked. Given time, that annoying but innocent squeak could end up being something much worse – and we’ve seen some pretty alarming things in our time! Regular health checks and replacement of a few key parts are easy to do; your bike will thank you for it, and reward you with many more miles happy cycling!
3. It makes your bike a pleasure to ride. Safety first, naturally, but once that’s sorted, let’s not forget the all important comfort-factor. Loads of people end up on bikes that aren’t the right fit or aren’t adjusted to their needs (people are very adaptable!). Or in many cases, people just stop cycling because, frankly, it’s a pain in the arse if your brakes constantly rub or your chain keeps falling off. Whatever your reason for cycling, the right size bike, saddle and handlebar position, accessories and luggage solutions can make all the difference to how you experience – and enjoy – cycling. Learning bike maintenance will help you understand how your bike is put together, and what you can do to make it work better for you.
We reckon these top three reasons are the real culprits behind all the cobwebbed bikes sat in sheds across the nation. Unsafe, uncomfortable, expensive to repair bicycles would put off any ordinary person… but it doesn’t have to be that way. A bike maintenance course is a great little investment in yourself and your cycling future. Once you’ve got to grips with your bike, you’ll discover the real hidden joys from learning bike maintenance…
4. Get practical skills. I’ve lost count of how many new visitors to the workshop have told me “I don’t have a mechanical mind” or some such. They may be right – we are all blessed with different strengths after all 😉 – but the good news is, it doesn’t actually matter. A lot of bike maintenance is really simple stuff. If you don’t have any practical skills, bikes are a great entry point. Its parts are mostly very visible, you can clearly see how things connect, and with a bit of explanation, a few tools and some practise you can know your way around a bike quicker than you’d think. You may then be surprised at how quickly this knowledge becomes useful in other contexts… and you’ll be on your way to becoming a practical, problem-solving DIY expert.
5. Independence. Ultimately, learning bike maintenance can make you a much more self-sufficient cyclist. This can mean gaining the confidence to cycle more regularly and further afield. Understanding the machine you’re balanced on can be truly liberating; you may end up exploring by bike places you never imagined you could go before. We think bike maintenance can be really empowering and welcome anyone who wants to learn with us 🙂
Our next bike sale is on Saturday 22nd April 10 – 4pm. You can view details on our bikes for sale page. We’ve also got a Facebook event here, if you want to share it.
Our next two day advanced bicycle maintenance course with spaces left is on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th May 2017, 10am – 6pm both days. This 16 hour course costs just £100! Further information and tickets available via our Training Courses page.
Tickets for our next basic bike maintenance course are now on sale! This will be on Tuesday 25th April 5 – 9pm and costs £20. You can find out more and book tickets on our Training Courses page.
Monday 10th April 10am-2pm will be out next monthly volunteer day! Drop in to the workshop to help us strip, sort and clean rescuable bike parts. This is a great way for aspiring mechanics and tinkerers to learn more about how bikes are put together and how to use different tools. We’ll have tea, coffee and biscuits on the go, just bring yourself in some warm clothes that you don’t mind getting a bit mucky. Read more on our Get Involved page.
In other news…
We’re going to the Women & Cycling Conference in Bradford, Thursday 4th May. It promises to be a great opportunity to explore ways in which we can increase the numbers of women cycling, especially those who are under represented in the ‘cycling community’. We’re really keen to share experiences, discover what others are doing and get more ideas for what we can do – hope to see some of you there!
We’ll soon be offering a *new* Family Mechanics Course for parents and children to attend together. They’ll be short courses in which we’ll cover naming bike parts, m-check, basic repairs and adjustments for safety and comfort. Dates will be in the school holidays – keep an eye out for updates or contact us to register your interest.
As well as saving bikes from landfill, something we’re passionate about here at Leeds Bike Mill is supporting people to get their own bike and to be confident on two wheels. For this reason we were thrilled to hear we had been successful in our recent application to Leeds Community Foundation’s Leeds Fund, to pilot a new project working with Refugees and Asylum Seekers.The project will involve us taking two groups of people through a 6-week programme of building up a bike and cycle training, and at the end, participants will get to keep the bike they have fixed. We know that getting a bike will mean an awful lot for the people who complete this course; bus travel in Leeds is prohibitively expense for most and we are often asked by organisations working with Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Leeds if we have any bikes we can donate.
The Conservation Volunteers at Skelton Grange Environment Centre is based in East Leeds and there will be all sorts of activities to try at their Open Day including willow weaving, woodcraft, campfire cooking and circus skills, plus tasty pizza, cake and local beer will be available. It’s happening 11am – 4pm so we’ll arrive about an hour after it starts.
There will be two meeting points that you can join us at for the bike ride:
10.15am for an 10.30am departure at the Wyther Lane Car Park by the canal towpath, at the junction of Wyther Lane and Broad Lane in Kirkstall.
11.00am at Office Lock on the canal towpath, near the candlestick building at Granary Wharf.
It’s a flat ride along a mixture of towpath and roads. We’ll keep to the towpath and quieter roads as much as possible. It’s about 8 miles. There’s bike parking at the centre but please bring a lock.
Anyone is welcome to join us (including children if they are accompanied by an adult)!. Please make sure your bike is roadworthy (tyres pumped up and brakes working is a good start). We’ll be cycling back too, but we can have a chat and decide a time together 🙂
PLUS! We will be offering free bike checks, tune-ups basic repairs at the Open Day. We’ll have a limited number of free parts like cables, brake pads and chains available if you’re a bit strapped for cash.
and Saturday 15th Oct 12-4pmat the Pedallers’ Arms workshop in Leeds city centre.
We have a range of road, hybrid, and mountain bikes for sale this month – check out a sample of what we’ve got right now at leedsbikemill.org/bikes-for-sale/. Adult bikes range from £60 – £300 and are all fully serviced by qualified mechanics.
Sorry we don’t have a card machine so can only accept cash payments. However there are a couple of cash machines within a 5 minute walk.
Leeds Bike Mill are holding a weekend of activities at the Pedallers’ Arms workshop as part of Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival 2016.
We’ll be open 10am to 4pm on Saturday 23rd July and Sunday 24th July for bike repairs, 2nd hand bike sales, refreshments, spin art and general cycling chat and advice on all things cycling in Leeds!
Plus we’ll have a tombola with the chance to win a multi-tool or USB rechargeable lights if you complete a survey. All completed surveys will be returned to Cycling UK and you will be entered into a prize draw for £250 of vouchers.
//Show your bike some love//
Get help repairing and maintaining your bike in the well-equipped Pedallers’ Arms workshop. There will be mechanics on hand who will work with you to identify what needs to be done and to help you do it yourself. We’ve got a limited amount of things like brake pads, cables and chains available for free to help reduce the cost.
//2nd hand bikes for sale//
We will have a range of refurbished second hand bikes for sale priced from £65 upwards. These have all been serviced by a qualified Leeds Bike Mill mechanic. Most of the bikes can be seen on our website at https://leedsbikemill.org/bikes-for-sale/ or if you are looking for something in particular please contact us and we will see whether we have anything suitable waiting to be fixed up.
Hot and cold drinks, cake and snacks will be available.
Get messy with paint (overalls can be provided!) and make your own pedal-powered art work.