Students travel from far and wide to train with us here at the Bike Inn - but often it's not so much where they've come from, rather the stories they bring with them that makes doing what we do so rewarding.
Training with the Bike Inn though is not the end of the story - not by any means! More often than not our graduates go away and start another chapter in their life, and sometimes they completely re-write their story...
... here's the story from 2020 graduate Abby Harman.
When you first meet Abby she comes across as a pretty unassuming person, going about her day, busy getting things done. But talk to her for just a few minutes and you'll soon see that she is an intelligent lady, with a sunshine smile, a great head for business, and an equally strong passion for all things bike.
In her own words : "My career has taken me from rural Aberdeenshire to Manchester via Edinburgh, Brighton, London and the Lake District. It’s involved office jobs and climbing walls, recording studios and festival stages, consulting rooms and coffee roasters, and along the way I’ve pedalled a pushbike."
"I’m not playing it down; I love biking and yes, I own a road bike, yes I’ve donned lycra and travelled significant distances by bike, yes I’ve entered events, and yes, in the distant past I’ve coached a little. But by far and away the thing that a bike has given me is the freedom to travel around the towns, villages and cities I’ve inhabited and visited keeping me fit and healthy along the way. Cycling for travel is the bread-and-butter of my cycling life, and it’s incidental. It’s simply my mode of transport of choice."
Abby and her partner had just opened a bike shop in Sale, Greater Manchester when she attended The Bike Inn course.
Folk Like You is not your average bike shop!
The bike shop isn’t your run of the mill shop, catering mainly for urban, hybrid , e-bikes and gravel bikes as well as road and mountain bikes. The shop focuses on style as well as function with a steel frame never too far out of sight.
Folk Like You can service, repair and maintain your bike, they can make customisations, and they can build a bike to your own unique specifications. But they can also clothe you, organise the things you need to carry on your bike, provide all the 'bells and whistles' - well, bells and lights actually - as well as what they term "random cool stuff".
"Folk Like You was born out of a perfect storm of events; a move to Manchester, a morning commute where I was really challenged to think about how best to keep myself safe, a passion for more sustainable living and a firm belief that cycling is an empowering experience. Particularly for women. Ultimately, a belief that cycling is too good to be enjoyed by the few. I want to share the experience."
With an ethos like this we are proud to have been chosen by Abby to be part of her cycling lifestyle and new adventure. We caught up with Abby a couple of months after she qualified as a mechanic at the Bike Inn, and asked her what difference her training had made, and what she would say to future students considering a career as a professional bike mechanic.
Having completed the course, I have been able to take to the stand in our bike shop’s workshop and get stuck in with repairs, services and wheel-builds. Even though it’s daunting, and I have to take my time, I now have knowledge to draw from, or a fingerpost for where to find the knowledge. What’s really valuable, is that the team, or your class colleagues, are never far away for those times when you draw a complete blank! If, like me, you’re thinking about whether you have it in you to be a mechanic, here’s my advice… don’t think too hard, just get your course fees together and crack on!
I can’t recommend the Bike Inn IMI Level 2 Bicycle Mechanics course highly enough! I was initially concerned that my basic knowledge was too low a starting point, but the support and attention that I was afforded by all of the Bike Inn team meant that I could progress at my own pace whilst still covering the immense amount of course content.
It’s really hard work, pretty intense, but so rewarding and confidence building. I had my ‘off day’ about 2 days in (“what am I thinking? I can’t do this!”), but that was short-lived, and probably necessary, as I learned to appreciate the progress that I was making. There is a perfect balance of theory time and practical time, and the evening homework and the morning exams keep you focussed. The facilities and equipment are super-impressive and the team are like new friends by the time you come to leave.
Having never thought she would fix bikes for a living, let alone become a professional mechanic Abby is enjoying this new chapter in her life and the challenges that come with it.