Eight people are being trained this week in the art of bicycle maintenance so that they in turn will be able to pass their skills on.
The eight are receiving five days certified training at Shetland Bike Project on a course which offers certificates at various different levels. Taking part this week are two people (one employee and one volunteer) from the SIC sports and leisure department’s active schools service (which works with mountain bikes), one interested member of the public and five project participants. The instruction is “very detailed”, according to project co-ordinator Caroline Adamson, and involves stripping a bike right down its basic frame and rebuilding it, setting the adjustments, brakes and gears into safe cycling readiness.
The training is being delivered by Weldtech, a company based in Staffordshire which has worked with national, European and world champion cyclists. The company has designed and built bikes for (among others) former Tour de France cyclist Stephen Roche and athlete James Cracknell (better known for rowing but who cycles for charity events).
Trainer Graeme Freestone King has been impressed with his enthusiastic trainees at the bike project, who he said were all very keen and expected to do well in the course, which would enable them to become trainers. He has also been impressed by the Shetland hospitality.
“I’ve had a super warm welcome, it’s fantastic, I wish I was staying,” Mr King said.
The bike project, which started in 1999, takes clients recovering from drug or alcohol or mental health problems, which are classed as “significant barriers to employment”, and who are referred by organisations or agencies. These include Shetland Link Up, the Moving On project, Life Skills (formerly Support Training) and CADSS (Community Alcohol and Drug Support Services Shetland). It also works closely with the JobCentre and other agencies.
The bike project provides around 2,500 hours of work per year for the referred clients, in the course of which they learn to fix and refurbish bikes, as well as providing around 200 hours of work annually for those doing community service.
However, anyone interested in bikes and their maintenance can also take part. People should contact Ms Adamson in the first instance, although she might recommend they get in touch with an agency. Either way they would receive valuable training and could probably work in a voluntary capacity, although the project does have three paid employees.
The bike project is always glad to receive donations of second hand and redundant bikes from the public.
Ms Adamson said: “We’ve had some really good bikes over the years, we got four yesterday.”
Bikes are also sometimes given by the police if they remain unclaimed for an extended period.
On the recycling side, the service has repaired and restored more than 3,000 bikes over its 11 years, twice winning Shetland Environmental Awards for its “green” credentials. The bikes then go on to be sold – and anyone looking for a well-maintained second hand bike should contact the project.
Funding for this week’s Weldtech course has come from Shetland Community Safety Partnership and Shetland Charitable Trust.