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The art of bicycle maintenance

Anna and Luke at Drover’s Cycles kindly agreed to host another Bicycle Maintenance day on the 9th April 2018 at their busy bicycle hire business in Hay on Wye. On this occasion the lucky visitors were young people seeking asylum in Newport who link into The Gap Centre in central Newport.  Mark and Sarah who run a group to support people seeking sanctuary were delighted to be able to give 14 people a day out in the countryside, for them to learn a bit about bike maintenance and to become proud bike owners in the process.

Planning for this day started several months ago when we began to collect bikes that were generously donated by supporters. Steve coordinated arrangements for food along with Anna and he made his usual trip to Birmingham market, returning with some wonderful fruits, snacks and biscuits. It’s always hard to believe that he can carry so much on public transport! This with soups provided by Anna, eggs and cheese from Melrose, quiches,cakes and biscuits from other supporters meant that a feast awaited the visitors.

Arrival in Hay was delayed by ‘African time’ departure and some people being unable to rise in time. Sarah set off with some additional people who had arrived early and said it was  a beautiful journey up with so many views tempting her to stop! Nevertheless the minibus expertly driven by Sarah arrived at 12 and very little discussion was needed to decide that lunch should be served before anything else.

With the sun shining brightly, the yard at the front of Drovers looked like a food festival as people milled around eating and drinking and chatting. Melrose found several Ethiopians who knew the area that she has midwifery links with.

Then we all set to work cleaning the donated bikes and checking for punctures. K a young Kurdish man was very busy throughout the day as he had a great interest in bikes and said he’d often worked on his own bike at home before he’d had to leave. I learned that the Kurdish for puncture, inner tube and pump is the same as the English so we were able to have a good conversation about tyres!  My grandchildren N and N were delighted to work on their bikes very ably assisted [ ie N&N watched the majority of the work ] by Miv and Steve. Both were delighted to learn how to mend a puncture and to be allowed to use spanners. They were also interested to be with so many friendly people and later on looked up the countries that they came from.

Andy, Stuart,Luke and Anna  with help from Gez, Miv and Steve worked with the visitors to replace brake cables, brake pads, gear cables, add lights and  many things that seemed very technical and oily! As completed bikes began to stack up the weather turned colder and  the sun vanished. Those who knew how to cycle set off on working bikes for short rides around, returning with beaming smiles. Those who didn’t were promised lessons by Sarah. It seems that young people throughout the world don’t wear enough clothing when it’s cold and one or two of the young men began to appear almost hypothermic but still wouldn’t try extra layers  on! Apparently jumpers aren’t comfortable…..By 4pm with rain threatening we decided to call it a day.

Part of Anna’s planning for the day had involved talking to Raleigh UK who had very generously donated helmets, locks and lights for all the participants! Everyone was enormously grateful for this very welcome and thoughtful donation. Our planned handover of the goodies was a little curtailed by the weather but we did manage to take a few photos of the helmets in situ.

Sarah says that they are planning some road safety lessons for all sanctuary seeking cyclists in Newport which we were very  pleased to hear about.

Several visitors were very disappointed not to be taking the bikes in the minibus and needed promises that they would have their bikes soon.

Luke, Andy and Anna say that they will work on remaining bikes to bring them all up to a good standard and Miv will try to deliver  a good number by the weekend.

Mark from Newport reported that ‘they burst back into The Gap Centre full of today’s events.’ Truly a day to remember and many thanks to everyone who made this possible.

Especial thanks to  Drover’s Cycles and Raleigh UK without whom this day would not have been possible.