Active travel funding halved

The government recently announced it was cutting the budget for cycling, walking and wheeling, a huge loss for improving the options and accessibility for active and healthy travel in Leeds. Overall, the cuts will result in London having over “three times as much funding per year for active travel than the rest of England combined“.

While the sun shines… take bike rides!

We don’t yet know how the funding cuts will impact us in West Yorkshire, or whether the courses we run will be affected, but if you’ve been thinking about doing some training and haven’t booked yet, there’s no time like the present!

A quick recap of some of the events and resources available at the moment in West Yorks*:

*Please let us know if there’s more we should add to this list!

If our courses can no longer be free…

Before this funding came along, we used to have to charge a fee on a sliding scale for our Bike Maintenance courses, with those paying the higher rates contributing towards the Leeds Bike Mill Bursary Scheme. This scheme helped to make cycle maintenance training available for everyone regardless of circumstances, by providing free places on our courses.

We’re delighted to be running free courses at the moment, which means we’re still holding some Bursary Scheme funds from the old days, as we will only ever use them to give access to bike maintenance training for the people of Leeds. Assuming one day we will have to charge for courses again, you can donate towards the bursary scheme here.

If you’ve been on a free course and want / are able to pay-it-forward, it will really make a difference to someone in the future.

The bigger picture

Sadly, according to Sustrans, the government’s decision will make it almost impossible to reach the government’s own targets to have “50% of all journeys in English towns and cities being walked or cycled by 2030, and for the UK to be Net Zero by 2050”.

Despite this diasppointing news, we will continue doing what we can to continue to improve access to cycling and bike maintenance in our community. Thank you so much for all your support. Hope to see you on a course soon!

Cycling the Coast and Castles (North) Route, Summer, 2022

Last summer one of our Bike Mill team members, Richard, headed up to Scotland for a cycling adventure. Here’s the behind the scenes story!

Edinburgh to Aberdeen, 169 miles (187 miles riden!)

Day 1: Edinburgh (St Andrews Square) to Kinneswood
37 miles

Having caught the Monday morning Scotrail train from Inverkeithing (on which bikes appear to be welcome, unlike South of the border), we arrived in Edinburgh the day after The Festival had finished, and found ourselves dodging huge piles of rubbish in the streets – not the result of a great night out as we first thought, but due to the refuse collectors strike! The imposing sight of Edinburgh Castle meant we could tick that one off our list, the first of many castles between here and Aberdeen.

St Andrew Square is the official starting point (also our finishing point when we’d cycled the south section from Tynemouth a couple of years previously) and we took the obligatory selfies before setting off through the cobbled streets, our fully laden bikes rattling over the bumps till we hit the smooth tarmac of the Edinburgh suburbs – a very quiet and pleasant ride, well signposted all the way to Queensferry and the Forth Bridges. A nearby visitor centre provides great views of all three bridges (more photos!) as well as a little kiosk, serving tasty sandwiches and drinks, and even more importantly – a toilet.

Crossing the bridge along the shared path was fabulous – quite a climb, and with no traffic apart from buses now, it’s pretty quiet, except for the gusty winds around the exposed middle section, high above the water! At the other end the route took us past Inverkeithing station where we’d caught the train earlier, and shortly after that we took our first wrong turn, misinterpreting a signpost arrow and ending up in a housing estate in Rosyth – should have checked the enlargment on the route map!

From Dunfermline the climbing started in earnest over the Cleish Hills on some lovely quiet lanes with beautiful views opening up behind us over the Firth of Forth and then over the top towards Loch Leven. By the time we got to Kinross we were starting to flag, not used to carrying heavy panniers, and getting hungry! We had booked a meal at the Balgedie Toll Tavern for 7.00pm and it was getting close to 6.00pm, so it was a bit of a rush past Kinross Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots had been imprisoned, and Burleigh Castle before finally reaching our B&B, ‘Arisaig’, at Kinniswood, a welcome hot shower and a change of clothes. Dinner at Balgedie Toll Tavern was great, highlights being the Warrior Queen IPA from local Loch Leven Brewery, panko haggis, Thai green curry, lentil and vegetable guiso (a type of Spanish stew) with tempura aubergines followed by coconut milk rice pudding and caramelised mango – we needed the mile walk back to ‘Arisaig’ to walk it all off before bed!

Day 2: Kinneswood to Ceres

22 miles

Following a superb breakfast, cooked to order, we set off in drizzle and low cloud, the route undulating along quiet lanes then steeply uphill through a forest, emerging at the ‘Pillars of Hercules’ (an extravagantly named garden centre which we later learned has a very nice cafe) and on to the small Fife town of Falkland. We decided to explore Falkland Palace, once a popular retreat for Scottish monarchs, and were allowed to safely stash our bikes around the side past the ‘No Entry’ signs while we had a look round. As well as extensive gardens it features the world’s oldest tennis court still in use, and the enthusiastic and knowledgable interpreters made it well worth a visit.

Campbell’s Coffee House in the village square provided lunch, though we could only manage coffee and cake (the cyclist’s staple!) after such a substantial breakfast.

The sun emerged as we continued on to our Airbnb, an old police house in the quaint village of Ceres, 7 miles from St Andrew’s, where our host, a former baker, presented us with a fantastic cream cake each on arrival!

The Ceres Inn wasn’t serving evening meals, so after a pint of ‘Terra Nova’ from the local Ovenstones Brewery, we bought provisions at the well stocked Spar shop next door and ate them in our room.

Day 3: Ceres to Broughty Ferry

32 miles

Setting off in lovely sunshine, out route took us mainly downhill to the tiny village of Kemback at the bottom of a wooded gorge, followed by a steep climb back up for fabulous views over to the river Tay and then on to St Andrews.

At St. Andrew’s we had to divert slightly off route to the sea front in search of public loos, not as easy as it sounds due to the one way system. After dodging golfers as we left the town, the route follows the A9 on a well segregated cyclepath, narrowing near Guardbridge then leaving the main road at Leuchars and weaving through a military base to the fantastic forest of Tentsmuir right on the coast. We plonked wearily down in the picnic area to eat our sandwiches, wishing we’d got a cup of tea or coffee, but grateful for the toilets at least, only to find (as we set off again through the other end of the car park into the forest) there was a ‘beach shack’ serving all sorts of delicious goodies and hot drinks just around the corner! Nothing for it but to stop again for a cuppa, a mere 300 yards from our last break… one advantage of averaging about 30 miles a day is you can take more pitstops!

The forest track was quite rough and can be bypassed on a quiet lane, but is well worth doing as the views across the Tay when you emerge at the far end are stunning.

Crossing the Tay bridge was quite an experience, cycling between the busy road carriageways on a slightly elevated path, and doubly exhilarating being downhill all the way – thankfully the lift was working at the Dundee side, otherwise the steps would have been tricky to negotiate.

You’re deposited on the newly re-developed quay side in Dundee near the V&A museum, but the route took us the other way along a scenic riverside path to Broughty Ferry and our next Airbnb. Dinner that evening was the best tapas that we’d ever eaten…anywhere…including Spain! Sol y Sombra Tapas Bar do a set meal: no menu, no decisions – they just ask what you eat (meat, vegetarian, vegan etc) then onto the table comes a constant stream of delicious food! Olives and nuts to start, then cold tapas: fish croquettes, egg burger, beef and figs, Serrano ham, mozzarella salad, Manchego cheese, couscous. The hot tapas is next: prawns in garlic oil, mushrooms, patatas bravas, paella, brochettes, sardines, black pudding sausage, washed down with a bottle of house red…fantastic!

Day 4: Broughty Ferry to Montrose 32 miles

We set off in beautiful sunny weather down to Broughty Castle on the sea front, the route following the east coast rail line through Monifieth and alongside a MOD training area – watch out for the high-speed trains and red flags! At Carnoustie the official route crosses the golf course but we ended up lost amidst a maze of paths and golfers with no visible signage and in hindsight it would have been easier to skirt around the golf course. Shortly after, two cyclists going the opposite way warned us that the route was closed at Elliot’s Links on the way into Arbroath but said that we could bypass it on the beach, so at East Haven we ignored the diversion signs onto the busy A92 and carried on.

The ride was fantasic, right along the coast, the sun shining and no-one in sight! Then came the diversion… we tried to ride on the beach but the sand was too soft for our heavily laden bikes and we ended up pushing them through the dunes for half a mile. As we entered Elliot, just outside Arbroath, we chanced upon a beach side kiosk where we tucked into a big portion of loaded fries and halloumi, all the while watching out for any of the thieving seagulls we’d been warned about!

After lunch we managed to negotiated another seaside one-way system to find Arbroath Abbey which had been founded by William the Lion in 1178. A new visitor centre with interesting displays had recently opened and cycle parking is available outside the front door.

Leaving Arbroath the route ventures away from the coast into rolling farmland, along quiet back lanes and round the magnificent Lunan Bay – with the warm sunshine, pine trees, blue sea and gentle breeze it could have been the Mediterranean.

Passing Red Castle perched on a hill we dropped down into Lunan and out the other side, where Dunninald Castle is buried in parkland and hidden from view. Finally we arrived in Ferryden and our B&B for the night, just outside Montrose. Walking into the rather drab and deserted Montrose town centre later in search of food, we spotted two couples enter a nondescript looking Asian takeaway, ‘Sher-e-Bangla’, so we followed them in to discover it opened out into a fantastic palatial lobby where smart serving staff awaited us in a beautifully furnished restaurant. And the food was amazing! Pappadoms and pickle, vegan biriani, Tandoori cod with pilau rice, salad and a spicy sauce – altogether a perfect end to what had been a super day on the bikes!

Day 5: Montrose to Stonehaven 33 Miles

After a hearty Scottish breakfast we left Montrose on a well signed path across more links and heathland until it disappeared into a work compound, reappearing at the other side after a short detour. The route crosses the North Esk on an old railway viaduct then drops steeply to the valley floor underneath and along to a nature reserve with toilets and a small visitor centre. Then came the steepest climb of the whole the route, ascending via the old sea cliff! It levels out after a few hundred yards but then fools you and kicks up again, slogging up and onto the A92 for 200 yards then dropping down to the lovely old village of St Cyrus.

After St Cyrus you unfortunately have to join the busy A92 for about 8 miles into Inverbervie as there is no other road – not very pleasant. However, after 3.5 miles you can turn off the A92 at the little fishing village of Johnhaven (it is signposted), and follow a rough track beyond the village beside the sea to the village of Gourdon. It is well worth the detour – we were on hybrid bikes, at least 30mm tyres, and had no problem on the surface of gravel, grass and embedded cobbles.

Leaving Inverbervie on a brief section of A92 we had our only close pass of the trip: a large lorry trying to maintain its speed for the approaching hill! Shortly after the climb we left the A92 onto great little back lanes, the sun was out and we soon forgot about the incident as beautiful views appeared over the hill.

En route to Stonehaven we had a brief visit to Dunnottar Castle for a quick photo opportunity before dropping down into Stonehaven harbour in search of food as our B&B that night was in the middle of nowhere, a few miles out of the town.

We found ‘The Seafood Bothy’, a tiny shack right on the harbour, and were soon enjoying fresh lobster and prawn burrito with chips, dip and salad – a taste sensation. We were slightly regretting eating so much during the slow ride uphill to our B&B, but we got the warmest of welcomes from the owners at Crawfield Grange near Newbigging, and the accommodation was first class.

Day 6: Stonehaven to Aberdeen 24.5 miles

After yet another delicous home-cooked breakfast we retraced our steps to re-join the route, fortunately not loosing too much of the height we’d gained the night before. This section of the route stays away from the coast for the first part and is pretty undulating through farmland and woods. A new road has been built to by-pass Aberdeen, only shown as ‘proposed’ on our map, and the route zig-zags back and forth over this road as it weaves its way towards the city. At one junction we passed the complete Movistar cycle racing team and their support car – we had forgotten the Tour of Britain was starting the following day! We headed back towards the coast and re-joined it on cliff top roads near Portlethen Village. As we approached Cove Bay the Movistar team passed us again, this time minus three riders, then a Team Ineos rider passed going the other way, all enjoying the nice weather before the rain that was to descend for most of the rest of the race.

As we rounded the headland we found that the harbour at Aberdeen is being extended into Nigg Bay so has ruined the loop round to the lighthouse and we promptly got lost in the diversion. We picked up the route as we rode passed the docks on the south side of the river Dee. Crossing the old bridge we almost missed the Sustrans marker and had to do a U-turn for the official end of trip photo.

We found our Airbnb close to the north side of the docks, two minutes from the rail station so it would be handy for the morning as we were heading home by train. We ventured into the city to eat, our now very tired legs struggling up the steep hill, and found solace at the Brewdog bar where we polished off burgers and chips and several fine brews to celebrate our achievement! Afterwards, we watched the end of the Scottish National Circuit Racing Championships which were taking place on the city streets that evening as a prelude to the start of the Tour of Britain.

Day 7: Train from Aberdeen to Stirling (120 miles, 1h 55min)

Cycle from Stirling to Dollar (16 miles, 1h 58min)

Not having realised the Tour of Britain Grand Depart was taking place at 11.00am (and which we’d have liked to stick around for) we had booked a train back to Stirling at 10.30am! But then again it was absolutely tipping it down with rain and we got soaked just riding around the corner to the station, so perhaps it was for the best.

We loaded the bikes onto the train, initially disappointed that the bike storage was the impossible vertical type requiring you to remove your panniers before hanging up your bikes (and there’s no way you can fit two flat-bar bikes side by side). However, on further investigation the carriage also had room for three more bikes stored horizontally, good old Scotrail…

Relaxing as we sped homewards (through all the places we’d just cycled through over the best part of a week!), we reflected on the fabulous experience we’d had cycling what is a really beautiful and interesting route, our relatively leisurely pace having afforded us time to enjoy the places we passed through and to get to know the people we met along the way.

Bike Mill Jumble Sale 2022

11-4pm Sunday 24 July

Come along to the first Leeds Bike Mill Jumble Sale! 

We’ve collected loads of bikey bits and bobs over the years, and want to make it more accessible to you! 

We’ll have loads of parts, accessories and more ready for you to rummage through. If you’re looking for the perfect part in your latest bike build or if you just want to accessorise your bike with some bargain second-hand bells and bottle cages, we hope you’ll find it here. There will be a wide range on offer in terms of quality and price points (from ‘pay-as-you-feel’, to suggested donation, to priced). All money raised will be put back into our not-for-profit work, and help us to increase our range of affordable refurbished bikes and training opportunities.

No need to register in advance, but fill in this form if you want updates or to let us know what you are interested in finding!

Finding us

The best route to Mabgate Green (one-way) from Regent Street is shown below (further info here). Parking on the surrounding streets is free on Sunday.

Our address is 37 Mabgate Green, Leeds, LS9 7DS

The Ts and Cs

Cash, card and contactless payments all available (cash preferred for sales under £5).

All second hand parts, frames and accessories are sold as seen and non-refundable.

Unfortunately there won’t be space to bring bikes in – please try to bring along the relevant measurements for any parts you need.

Unfortunately no parts/accessory fitting services will be available on the day.

There won’t be toilet facilities on the day. The nearest public toilets can be found at Leeds City Bus Station.

Hope to see you there!

11-4pm Sunday 24 July

9 Cycle Touring Tips

Chris Lee cycled across Canada in 2017 on a bike from Bike Mill. Here he shares 9 bike touring tips he learned along the way. You can get information on Chris’ book here.

“In spring 2017 I went to Leeds Bike Mill looking to buy a touring bike.

A week before that, I’d booked a one-way flight to Canada for June 2017. I had a plan to ride across, a ticket to get there, but nothing to ride across on.

So Ben led me upstairs to the room full of bikes for sale and ran me through a few of the options.

Part of the charm of a community bike recycling cooperative is the ramshackle aspect of the bikes on offer. You find all sorts, previously owned by people from all walks of life. Kids mountain bikes nestled up against faded Peugeot racing bikes from the 80s. Tired tourers next to city bikes desperate for a new owner to take them out on the town again. Then, tucked away at the back, a green glint caught my eye.

Maybe ‘glint’ was a strong word

It may not look like much in the picture. And in fact, two people laughed in my face when I showed it to them, telling them I’d found my bike for Canada. But under Ben’s watchful eye and masterful hand, the bike took on a new lease of life –

A thing of beauty

That transformation was one of many things that went smoother than expected on the ride. So instead of rattling off a bunch of random stories about riding across Canada, I decided to make this blog post a little more useful. Below, you’ll find nine tips to help your upcoming bike tours run smoothly.

Touring tip #1: Leave yourself plenty of time to plan

There’s a lot involved in planning a cycle tour. Alongside the flights, the gear, the route, and various other bits, I also had to acquaint myself with the new bike. Training rides were in order to get used to the miles, and to see whether its geometry was compatible with my physiology. 

At first, things weren’t promising. After a while, though, pedalling hurt. Bits of me went numb (more alarmingly, these were bits where sensation is especially important). And every attempt I made to remedy the problem by adjusting saddle height and angle only made them worse.

I remember stopping beside the road in Adel, leaning against the wall, looking at the bike, and despairing. Canada would be literally thousands of times longer and more difficult than this ride, and here I was barely able to keep riding a few miles from my front door. Visions of having to return the bike, find another, and repeat the acquainting process anew flashed through my mind – something I would’ve struggled to find time to do.

Make sure to give yourself ample time to get everything ready. Remember doing so includes training as well as sourcing all of your gear!

Touring tip #2: Allow space for spontaneity

Planning a tour route is definitely recommended, but remember it’s up to you how detailed the plan is. Beyond a start and endpoint and a vague idea of the line connecting the two, the rest is up to you. Will you have a strict itinerary with every campsite booked in advance and every day’s route loaded into your handlebar GPS? Or will you have a bunch of paper maps, a vague idea which direction you’re supposed to go in, and an unbridled sense of adventure?

On our ride across Canada, we took a laissez-faire approach somewhere approaching the latter. Except for the names and addresses of friends (and friends of friends) dotted in various cities across Canada, we just planned to ride east, about 65 miles a day, and figure out to sleep as and when we started to feel tired. Some days this meant rummaging around in scrub on town outskirts trying to find enough flat ground for our sleeping bags, which wasn’t particularly glamorous. On other days, though, it meant striking up a conversation with some random people and an hour later sitting with them swapping stories of our ride and their lives over beers, our tents erected safely on their lawn for a comfortable night’s sleep.

There’s definitely a tradeoff between the depth of plan and the amount of spontaneity on offer. While this is a personal threshold for everyone, I recommend making space for as much spontaneity as you can without sacrificing the peace of mind that a plan requires. 

Touring tip #3: Don’t be sentimental

Immediately after arriving in Vancouver, a bunch of our stuff got stolen. Thieves relieved us of a water bottle, a helmet, and the spindle that connects the back wheel to the frame. This was particularly annoying: Firstly, because it’s hard to imagine any reason to steal that beyond being annoying. And secondly, because it’s the type of theft that you could ride without noticing, only realising something was wrong when you went over a bump, and your back wheel comes off.

Thankfully, though, we noticed. We toured the various bike shops of Vancouver to replace what was missing, then used the bad vibes as an excuse to set off on our ride a day early.

Later in the ride, two of our bags got mistakenly collected as trash and taken, irretrievably, to a landfill site. We lost about £200 worth of gear between us, including everything required to make hot food. As a result, we didn’t have any cooked meals for the week it took us to get to the next town big enough to replace the gear.

While it’s not inevitable, be prepared for things getting lost or, worse, stolen. Accept the possibility of it happening, and try to roll with the punches as best you can if it does.

Touring tip #4: Embrace the hills

While researching the ride in cycling forums, it became apparent that west to east was the favourite way to get across Canada. The prevailing wind is more likely to be behind you, meaning an easier ride (in theory). The tradeoff, though, is having to ride over the Rocky Mountains fairly early on.

If, like me, you’re wary of hills, this is a fairly daunting prospect.

As we rode through the Vancouver suburbs, out into the countryside, through the verdant Okanagan Valley, and towards the Rockies, the horizon became increasingly mountainous. Hazy blue shapes appeared and only increased in size as we approached. Before long we were in the foothills, tackling elevations that were manageable, but which also alluded to some fairly hardcore climbs fairly soon.

When you’re touring, there’s real value in learning to embrace climbing. My cycling career up to that point had been defined by getting off and walking up any hills I didn’t like the look of. Riding from Otley to Leeds, this is fine. It adds a bit of time, but you’ll still be home in time for tea. Riding from one side of Canada to the other, though, makes it a far less viable option. I reckon that if I’d walked up every steep hill, I’d still be making my way across the country today.

Instead, take the opportunity to learn to enjoy climbing. Learn about the lowest gear your bike has to offer (often called the Granny Gear). Don’t be afraid or ashamed to drop down into it. Accept that slowing down to a snail’s pace and going one rotation of the pedal at a time is legitimate and that you’ll get to the top eventually. When you do slow down into it, climbing changes from a desperate struggle where you’re constantly short of breath, to a meditative experience where you can pay extra attention to the scenes and sensations.

Touring tip #5: Ease yourself into things

This ties heavily into the previous tip. Just like how gradually easing yourself into hills can change your appreciation of them, the way you ease yourself into the new rhythms that cycle touring brings determines what sort of time you’ll have.

Packing your belongings into bike bags and setting off toward some distant horizon is a big undertaking. Your days on the saddle will likely look completely different to your everyday life. Instead of bed with duvets and showers with hot water, you’ll have sleeping bags and cold streams. Instead of kitchen amenities and cupboards replete with food, you’ll have whatever you can cram into your panniers, cooked over a single flame. Usually, this is food with the highest caloric content to weight ratio, too, meaning that flavour factors in a lot less than you may be used to.

But you know what? During that transition, all the things around you are different, too. Everything is novel. You’re in a new place full of new things, and each day is an invitation to gratitude. An opportunity to see a different side of the world and gradually lose yourself in it.

In Canada, this process is accelerated by the sheer variety of places you ride through in quick succession. From rolling lakeside highways you find yourself weaving through snowcapped mountains, then just a couple of days later, you’re riding through sunbaked prairie land, wondering how snow could exist within a thousand miles of here. After prairies, you spent countless days riding through thick forest, dotted with an indeterminable number of lakes, from those you can swim across in minutes to those that contain a fifth of the world’s entire freshwater supply. The terrains and sceneries and ambiences on offer in Canada are a vast and fascinating tapestry, and riding through on a bicycle lets you take everything in at just the right speed.

Touring tip #6: Talk to people

Every single part of Canada we visited was enriched by talking to locals. Not only are they interested in what you’re up to, but they have unparalleled knowledge of the place. Depending on how far your conversation goes, you’ll get recommendations for better routes, tips for particularly good places to camp, offers for dinner, and even invitations to hot tubs and pool parties. 

All of my fondest memories from the ride revolve around the curiosity and generosity of the people we spoke to. There was the elderly couple who invited us in and made us a packed lunch when the general store we’d been relying on for food that day turned out not to exist. There were the two families who invited us to sleep on the ground between their cabins, then hosted a competitive barbecue where each tried to outdo the other with their hospitality. There were the endless conversations outside general stores, in petrol station forecourts, on benches, at roadsides, and everywhere else: About Canada, cycling, life, or whatever happened to be on their mind.

Bicycles and the people riding them seem to have a unique magnetism. I was surprised every time at how friendly people were. How willing they were to share a few minutes with complete strangers. So if you need a reminder of the general excellence of humanity, get on your bike and ride. You won’t be disappointed.

Touring tip #7: Eat Well

The beauty of the world and the kindness of the people who inhabit it will nourish your soul, but while cycle touring, it’s especially important to nourish your body. There’s another mantra I kept close to me while riding: If you feel hungry, you’ve already left it too late to eat. This is because your body uses a huge amount of energy while riding. On a 70 mile day, it’s not unusual to burn more than twice your regular calories, for example.

So, when you feel hungry, it means your body has already worked through all of its available energy. Even if you cram a snack to tide you over to the next food stop, it’ll take about half an hour for your body to get anything from it. The section of your ride between snack and lunch you’ll be running on empty, which isn’t a pleasant sensation (it can actually be dangerous, as it plays havoc with your blood sugar levels).

Make sure to eat well, is my advice to you. Have big breakfasts. Have big lunches and dinners, too. Eat many snacks: Trail mix, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, and hard-boiled sweets were my favourites. Get used to the rhythm of eating every time you stop, even if it’s just something small. And treat yourself to junk food frequently: You’re burning off so much energy that you may as well make the most of it!

All across Canada are regional delicacies, too. Vancouver has beaver tails. Quebec has poutine. Make sure to sample them all, as often as possible.

Touring tip #8: Rest well

It’s also important to sleep well. Both in terms of where you sleep and what you sleep in. Canada, as a rule, gives you beautiful opportunities for the former. We rode through lush valleys, over soaring mountains, past coolies and beside hundreds of miles of lakeshore. We camped under stars, in thickets of reaching pine trees, amongst islands, and everywhere in between. If you feel comfortable wild camping, cycle touring gives you a million opportunities to do it.

Just remember four things:

  • Leave the spot tidier than you found it.
  • Don’t camp on private land without express permission.
  • Don’t disturb any people or animals.
  • Be ready to leave in the early hours.

Touring tip #9: Write it down 

I wrote two journals while I rode, and reading over them brings back a load of memories that have slipped away since. On the ride, everything feels unforgettable, but the reality is that the human mind lets a surprising amount of stuff go. After a month you’ll remember a lot of it. After a year, just the highlights. And beyond that, your recall continues to dwindle.

So take pictures, write a journal, and give yourself the option to reminisce for years to come.

And if you’re interested, check out my book. It’s a celebration of bike touring against a backdrop of Canada. My goal writing it was to convey the magic of bike touring in a way that would make at least one person think, “damn, that sounds great. I think I’ll give that a go!”.

Maybe that person will be you.”

Bike Mill during Lockdown

Updated 16/08/2020

Since the announcement of a nationwide lock down our opening hours have changed.  To buy a bike please see what we have ready and make an appointment to test ride a bike. Due to a heartening increase in demand for bikes (amazing!) we are unable to fulfill specific orders at this time. But we will continue fixing up bikes for you as quick as we can.

For anyone who had a bike put aside to donate to us, we are now receiving donations once again.

Our initial statement on courses and volunteer sessions of course still applies;

We have taken the difficult decision to cancel all our courses and volunteer sessions for the time being.  The recent guidance advises avoiding non essential contact with others as far as possible, to help reduce the spread of Covid-19, and unfortunately the workshop does not enable us to spread people out at a safe distance.  Be assured that we will announce as soon as courses and sessions are up running again.

Of course, this is an unprecedented and rapidly changing situation, so we will keep this post updated with any further changes as things develop.  In the meantime, we hope you will join us (sadly not physically!) in our appreciation for bikes – which we can still use for transport, exercise, and enjoyment, as we roll through these uncertain times.

Get set for winter cycling!

Getting ready for winter cycling need not cost a fortune. As well as our range of new accessories & cycle maintenance kit, did you know we also sell affordable / pay-as-you-feel second-hand accessories?…

Light up!

Bike lights are a must after dark (literally, it’s the law). We’ve new USB rechargeable lights (£10 each*) and battery operated (fiver each). Or see what you can find in the pay-as-you-feel second-hand selection! Make sure you have a least one set of good working lights – and maybe a spare pair for these extra short days!

bike lights
*15% off these USB rechargeable lights when you buy a pair before 21st December. NB. These are packaged in plastic-free simple cardboard boxes 🙂

Be bright, be seen.

We’ve LOADS of second-hand hi-vis & reflective accessories: bibs & jackets, snap bands, spoke reflectors, regular reflectors, bag covers… all sorts!

{{Wrap up}}

Stay cosy on cold winter commutes with gloves, over-trousers, buffs, cycling tops & leggings… these are some of the things you’ll find in our second-hand cold & wet weather kit.

Chain care 101.

Clean & oil your chain approx once a month in dry weather and every couple of weeks in wet weather. Harsh winter weather and gritted roads can especially take their toll, so why not pop in and pick up a bottle of chain oil! Or go the extra mile and…

Give your favourite cyclist (or your favourite bike) a gift this festive season!

Bike maintenance kitPut together your essential bike maintenance kit from our range of chain oil, spray oil, multitools, chain wear tools, sprocket brushes, puncture repair kits, pumps & cable cutters.


Our opening hours are 10am-6pm on Tuesdays, Wedsnesday & Fridays. Plus 10am-2pm on the 3rd Saturday of the month. We’ll be closed over the winter holiday, last open on Saturday 21st December, reopening on Tuesday 7th January 2020!

Support Bike Mill when you shop…

co-op logoMembers of the Co-operative supermarket can now support our Fix it to Ride project just by doing your weekly shop! (Shout out to folks who don’t shop at the Co-op – please share this with your friends & networks!)

Bike Mill has been selected as one of the Co-op’s Local Community Fund projects. Every time a member buys selected Co-op products and services 1% of the money you spend goes to a local cause in the community. If you log in you’ll automatically see projects most local to you, but anyone in the country can support Bike Mill by visiting our unique local cause profile!

FITR volunteer sessionWhat will the funding support we hear you ask? In 19 months Fix it to Ride volunteers have contributed approximately 1173 hours to the project – stripping down and rebuilding bikes, learning loads of news skills whilst providing refugees and asylum seekers with a free, fast & healthy mode of transport.

We’d be so delighted if you supported Bike Mill – find out more and join the Co-op here – it will really help us keep the Fix it to Ride project going for longer. Thank you!

Why we support the climate strike (but will be open)

On 20th September, millions of people will be walking out of their homes and workplaces in solidarity with the young people on strike, demanding an end to a society dependent on fossil fuels.

We applaud everyone taking action to demand a better future for us all. We truly believe we can create a society based on renewable energy, sustainable housing, food and transport. To get there, everyone has their part to play – all individuals, businesses and governments. Striking is about showing that we – individuals and businesses – demand that our governments and other businesses step up to the task.

Untitled designThe cause behind the Global Climate Strike is close to our hearts. We created Bike Mill out of our concern for the environment, and particularly in response to dependence on private car use. We are salvaging bicycles to save waste of useful materials and to increase access to sustainable, healthy, and low-cost transport – creating work by doing something that benefits society and the environment, rather than harming it.

Alarmingly, we are already seeing the effects of climate change; twice in the past two years, record-breaking temperatures forced us to close our workshop due to unsafe heat levels. Despite our best efforts, no amount of fans could create a tolerable working/volunteering environment with outside temperatures of 36 degrees, and we are concerned for what next summer might bring. But these challenges are not dampening our motivation – they strengthen it.

We urge everyone who wants to see a healthy planet for the next generation to stand alongside the young people concerned for their future, support the climate strike on Friday 20th September and then continue to take action in the many other ways possible. We have decided to stay open as usual, so we can continue our work in promoting sustainable transport, but we are supporting those of our staff who will be walking out on Friday 20th in Leeds and welcome anyone who joins us.

Big Bike Revival 2019!

Big Bike Revival returns for 2019, with cycling events happening across the UK – check out Cycling UKs website for full listings. Here’s what we’re up to:

Big Bike RevivalLeeds Bike Mill Bike Fix: Saturday 15th June & Saturday 20th July 10am-4pm

Our regular Saturday open days will be a bit special in June & July: longer opening hours plus free bike health checks & minor repairs with Dr Bike; chill out in the cafe corner with free cycling maps of Leeds while you wait.

Clean Air Day at Briggate, Leeds city centre: Thursday 20th June 12.30pm-3.30pm

Dr Bike feedbackOur Dr Bike will be joining other organisations promoting cycling as one way to help keep our city’s air cleaning for everyone! Come and say hello and bring your own bike for a free bike health check and minor repairs.

At all of these events we’ll be running the Big Bike Revival tombola, giving you the chance to win a prize that will help keep your bike happy this summer!

Sessional Dr Bike work

Do you like meeting new people and helping them get their bikes back into good working order? Do you enjoy working independently and visiting different areas of the city?

We are looking for a freelance bicycle mechanic to help us deliver Dr Bike sessions in Leeds. Full details on the post are available in this pdf: LBM Sessional Mechanic JD

Closing date for applications is 9am on Friday 17th May. Please email applications to info[at]