Ash Swann from Yarra Valley Cycles has run an annual bike building workshop for Billanook College primary school kids at the Kew Traffic School for a few years now. It's a day he looks forward to. He loves it, the teachers love it, and the kids love it too.
The workshop is not an exhaustive course on the finer points of bicycle mechanics. Ash simply unboxes a yet-to-be assembled bike and assembles it, with help from the class. They aren't shown how to grease a rear hub or even change an inner tube. However, in this era of touch-screens, keyboards, and controllers, Ash insists that the "righty tighty, lefty loosey" mantra has never been more important. Whether it's inserting and adjusting the seat post, Allen-keying the front brake to the fork, or wrenching on a pedal, these experiences provide the children with tactile learning opportunities that perhaps are not as prevalent as they used to be. It presents them with an opportunity they may not have been given at home or in the classroom.
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Ash also makes a point of highlighting where the bikes came from: in this case, Taiwan. Small though the insight may be, even the simplest piece of the puzzle is important for their eventual understanding of the global economy.
The workshop is a win-win for everyone involved. The kids are outdoors, learning something new and Ash is ensuring future bums on future saddles. And, who knows, maybe he's inspiring the next Cadel -- it's not impossible.