Today my husband Bill McCoach and I, Michelle McCoach are at a crossroad in our lives. Before I get to that, I’d like to share my story of Bikeworks and my love of cycling. It all began when I bought my brother’s Schwinn bicycle that was two sizes too big for me. I learned much that there was to know about bicycles, rules of the road, and group rides/trips from Rodney of Bike line in Warminster PA. I bravely signed up and went on a bike/camp weekend at Pine Forest along with Mike Abrams and his ABC bike club. I’ll never forget the immediate acceptance and warm camaraderie that I felt among the group of cyclists. I also remember snuggling in my super-duper warm mummy sleeping bag in 15° temperature cabins. That’s when I knew that I absolutely loved cycling.
One of many group rides to Salisbury, MD
Groups help overcome fear
I wanted to continue riding, but wasn’t confident enough to go by myself or join a group ride as advertised by local bike clubs. It wasn’t until the last ride of the season, in September 1992, when I finally drummed up the courage to show up at an SCU bike ride at the Abington clinic in Horsham, PA. This is where I met my husband Bill McCoach. SCU was founded in 1990 by Bill along with Emerson Custis. I was immediately gravitated towards Bill’s knowledge of the bicycle world. Our first date was at Giuseppe‘s pizza to “carbo load” for my first (of ten) MS City-to-shore bike ride the next day. And after a few months of dating he bought me my first “fitted” bike from Pedal Pushers in Horsham. A Bianchi Alfana.
Then in 1995, we got married and had a bicycle wedding. Many cyclists joined Bill and I on separate SCU bike rides to a surprise wedding. Although as many of you know, there are no secrets among the cycling industry! I remember Joe Shields showing up to Bill’s ride in a suit jacket and tie with his bicycle shorts. He then traded clothes with Bill so Bill would be appropriately dressed for his own wedding! As for me, I wore a specially selected colorful jersey with my shorts and a garter. My sister-in-law Pat surprised me with her wedding veil to wear during the ceremony. We all rode back to an outdoor reception with Bill and I on a tandem. Nice idea, but because his cadence was 90 and mine was 60 we almost divorced that day!
Bike wedding May 20, 1995
Ed Hall, Jeff Goelz, Kevin, Bill and Michelle McCoach 1998
House - Bikeworks - Kevin
Fast forwarding to 1996, we bought our house in Harleysville PA. I became a very strong rider (Bill was already a strong racer) doing 25-mph pace lines, making the group rides to Salisbury MD, and hosting many SCU picnics and bike rides from our house in Harleysville. Some of my best memories include hard-core mountain bike riding down the wagon wheel trail in Jim Thorpe when I was seven months pregnant with our first child. Not the smartest thing to do with hindsight. Then in 1997 we had our first child, Kevin. After 15 years in corporate America, I did not want to go back. That’s when Rich Poltz of Bikesport offered us (as customers) the chance to take over his turn-key bicycle shop. Over a beer and handshake with Ed Hall (our first manager), we decided to go for it. This was the middle of October 1998 and by November 14, 1998, Indian Valley Bikeworks was open for business. In just one month, a dream come true. And this was all done while Bill and I attended my brother’s wedding for a week in Florida!
Bikeworks grew and so did our children
In 2001 we welcomed our second child Kimberly and then in 2002, purchased the Bikeworks building. In the early years I was able to work as a stay-at-home mom. Managing the books on my laptop at home while playing lifeguard by the pool with the kids. Then bringing them with me to the bike shop in their baby carriers. I will be forever grateful for this. Thanks to such a strong and dedicated team from the beginning lead by Ed Hall, Jeff Goelz, and later Jason Meyers and Jeff Atkins, we were able to grow Bikeworks to what it is today. We have enjoyed 22 years of success, not only with building a highly reputable bike shop , but also, by contributing to our community. It has been a high honor to be part of many charity and community events, including MS Society, SCU, and Pedal PA (Bill’s cross-state touring company). We have enjoyed continued friendships built over the years. Loved the employee-appreciation adventurous camping trips and bike rides. Relished the Univest races in Souderton and Philadelphia bike races (remember Corestates). And how about the epic climb up “the wall” in Manayunk? I remember how proud I was making it to the top towing Kevin in the Burley cart, but totally falling on my face with Kimberly in the Burley four years later! We have valued the precious relationships built with our customers and their steadfast support over the years. We can’t thank them enough.
Hug Day after my first transplant 2016
Along with all the blessings we have received, there have been many challenges along the way, mostly my health. In 2013 I was diagnosed with T cell lymphoma. Since then I have received treatment from Penn hospital and two stem-cell transplant’s. I am blessed to still be alive cancer-free, but I am still dealing with graft versus host disease, a condition where the donor cells fight the body, almost like auto immune disease. Now is where I come to the part of the cross road.
Although I have the desire and willingness to continue working our businesses, I realize that I don’t have the strength or mental capacity. My husband Bill agrees that it is time for us to retire as owners of Bikeworks as well as landlords of the building. Bikesport was the first bike shop in Harleysville for eight years and then Indian Valley Bikeworks another 22. Wouldn’t it be great to see another bike shop continue in this great community? So we have decided to offer the building as well as Bikeworks for sale.
So here's to barely-hanging-on 16mph pace lines at the MS ride, lost car keys on a mountain bike ride, Las Vegas trade show trips, bonking 30 miles into a 40 mile ride, laying on your back in the grass to alleviate back pain, hill-climb rides, cross-state Pedal PA tours, club meetings, ski trips, frozen fingers on a decent in New Hampshire, Cape May ferry rides, flying down Jim Thorpe's wagon wheel trail, road rash, sleeping on hammocks in 30 degree temps, and mostly to all the friends we have met along the way.
Thank you ever so much for all of your support.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story. Keep the rubber side down.
Update June 9, 2021
After one and a half years of soul searching and trying to find a suitable buyer for Bikeworks, Bill and I have made the heart-wrenching decision to close Bikeworks. It is a melancholy time for us, since we have put so much into the business. It was our livelihood/. Our children grew up at the store. We will be fazing out the next couple of months with liquidation sales of all inventory, equipment, tools. It has been a fabulous 23 years of making friends, helping at cycling events, and simply belonging to a very supportive community. Thank you again for trusting us to serve you all these years.