‘Dad, Andy says we can build a bike at Holy Spokes; can we do this for our annual camping trip.’
Every year I camp with each of my kids, quality time and all that, but this year my son wanted us to hang out at a Bristol industrial estate in a bike shop. Well, I say bike shop but youth centre would be a better title, as untidy young people with bikes which matched their ill-fitting clothes and teenage bodies sought out ‘free’ second-hand parts to make their bikes useable.
Youth centre doesn’t do it enough justice, community centre would be better as the garden hosts a picnic bench and old used disposable BBQ’s along with badminton net and cricket bats slung on the floor in the same ways they are at home. People feel at home here. The owner of the high-end road bike, the addict looking for afresh start and a place of rest for weary travelling salesmen seeking a cup of coffee.
Community centre is too bland a comparison for this venue to play board games late into the night and, for two days, a place for a father and son from Essex to experience the pilgrimage of going west to build a bike together.
A business? Professionally run – definitely! Making a profit? Can’t be easy to do that when you service people’s emotional needs more than their buckled wheels and rusty chains. What Andy and Rae have built is nothing short of amazing; it was the best father-son camping trip we’ve had yet.
Perhaps the best word would be a church. A grease-covered habitat to explore faith and identity? Certainly, father and son had many Jesus-centred conversations which were started as a result of being in this bike shop, youth centre, community centre, business, sorry, I mean church.