There are probably three essential elements to a successful Ironman triathlete’s career:
>Know how to swim.
>Know some good runners for training sessions.
>Know a bicycle mechanic who speaks your language.
A bunch of tri guys down in Bristol, known as “The Crew,’ pretty much have all three bases covered, including the all-important number three.
That’s because they hang out at Yardley’s Firehouse Cycles, owned and operated by bike expert Mike Joseph.
The seven Ironman competitors keep their bicycles moving smoothly because Joseph knows exactly how to handle problems, big and small, in a timely fashion.
One of the leaders of the group, Mike McVey, explains that it’s important to have a mechanic who can analyze what a bike needs for any type of rider.
“We go to Firehouse almost exclusively,’’ McVey says. “We try to support him because he’s been very good to us.
“He’s super helpful, not a sales type. He genuinely cares. He wants to know what you’re up to.’’
There just seems to be a comfort zone in place.
“You go in there (Firehouse Cycles) and he’ll find something like a loose spoke,’’ McVey says. “Then he’ll take it for a test ride. You’re not being pushed out the door and he’s definitely not trying to sell you something else.’’
It’s just a friendly atmosphere and that can go a long way when there’s any uncertainty about these high-speed machines.
“He cares that you’re enjoying what you’re doing,’’ McVey says. “He’s concerned about your safety. And he follows us. . .it’s a comfort to know that somebody has got that when you get on your bike, it’s taken care of. That’s something that’s sometimes hard to find nowadays.’’
We should mention that Firehouse Cycles is also active in the charity community. Joseph’s store is a loyal sponsor of the Bucks County Duathlon, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary edition on Sunday, Sept. 1.
The Bristol Crew is a fairly tight bunch of athletes who don’t mind training hours on end to get ready for the ultimate challenge – 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run.
Besides McVey, the list includes Matt Wilson, John Beck, Bill Keyser, Jason DeAngelo, John Howe and Dan Vanbuskirk.
McVey is operations manager and hockey director of Grundy Rink in Bristol and that’s where some of the guys have met playing hockey.
“Mike (Joseph) has been outstanding in getting us into it and getting what we need,’’ McVey says. “We kind of run the Ironman circuit and try to stay active.
“It (the training) is time-consuming but it’s actually fun when you do it as a group. Last year we did Lake Placid and the year before that Chattanooga. It’s a fun little group, not a competitive-type thing. The wives come along and we just try to keep everybody going.’’
The Croydon native played hockey for Harry S Truman High School and Drexel University.
As an adult, he’s found a calling with triathlon and having good partners really helps.
“Some of us go with the Bucks County Triathlon Club,’’ McVey explains. “When there’s a scheduled workout, you want to get there. I don’t know if would call it accountability but in a way it is.
“If you have five guys riding with you on Saturday and maybe you don’t feel like going. . .then you say to yourself I’m going to get up and I’m going to do it. Later you’re happy you did. Alone, you probably would have blown the ride off had you not had that ‘Crew.’ We get after each other by text and it’s a good thing.’’
The McVey family includes his wife, Lisa, and their two children – son, Michael, who is going to be a sophomore at Notre Dame High School in New Jersey; and daughter, Emma, 11.
Multi-sport seems to be enjoying a resurgence the past few years.
“When you go to these (Ironman) races, you think I got into this late but I have plenty of time,’’ McVey says. “It’s a lifestyle as opposed to just a sport. I think it’s really growing.’’
Stores like Firehouse Cycles can help with that ever-growing popularity.
Saturday, Aug. 17
20th annual Ivyland 5K, 8:30 a.m., Ivyland. Contact www.Ivyland5K.org