A new business has rolled into the Winter Park community offering a new way to tour the town. The guided walking bike tour of the Winter Park community was started by Rollins student Brycyn Smith (23’) and Winter Park resident Jeff Noonan.
The company was founded by Brycyn Smith (‘23), a student at the Crummer Graduate School of Business, and Winter Park resident Jeff Noonan. They met when Smith went to a garage sale in Winter Park at Noonan’s house.
“He was selling these unique bikes, and they were the walking bikes, so he was showing all of the people at the garage how they worked and everything else. Once, the crowd cleared, I went up to him and asked for more explanation. He told me, then we got to talking, and I said that I was at the Crummer Business School. He thought what a cool idea it would be to have a Winter Park bike tour with these unique walking bikes, and I was like you know what, that’s a great idea,” said Smith.
Expanding off of the success of the Winter Park Boat Tour, Noonan always had the goal in mind of starting a Winter Park bike tour with the walking bike. He pitched the idea to Smith and they ran with it.
“It’s very well-known and everybody that comes to town gets recommended to go on the boat tour,” said Noonan. “They see the houses in town from the lake, have it narrated by a boat captain about Winter Park, and then people get off the boat and go meander about the rest of the city. But as a Winter Park resident, you know that you can learn a lot more about the neighborhood by running and riding bikes around these roads, trails, and neighborhoods instead of just the boat tour and seeing everything from the water.”
The walking bike is powered by a lithium-ion battery and has a brushless motor in the back that operates the rear wheel, unlike a standard bike that comes with a seat and pedals to balance the rider. A walking bike starts when the rider stands on the treadmill belt, giving it a push in the back, and prompting the motor. The motor turns on the battery by driving the belt and wheel simultaneously.
“The bike is somewhat of a unicorn because there’s only a few hundred in the United States scattered all about. So the fact that we have over a dozen here for the fleet is unique that we can take out a large group. You start to see people once they learn how to ride it within a couple of minutes of instruction and then we roll off down the road. We have become the little celebrities of the neighborhood with people filming us, stopping us, and yelling at us “What is that?” or “Where do you get one of those?” Noonan said.
Thanks to the Channel Six News Piece, the 32789 media piece, and social media, the Winter Park Bike Tour has gained more notoriety. From younger people to those in their 70s, their customers have been riders from various age groups. Smith said “That’s why we get such a strange reaction from just passersby when we ride by and they literally yell at us ‘What is that?’ out of the car window.”
The Winter Park Bike Tour is sixty minutes from start to finish. The tour begins at the Winter Park Bike Tour headquarters and riders are taken through Rollins along the long pathway to the flagpole, which is the first stop. From there, riders will tour areas surrounding Lake Virginia.
“Our second to last stop is right beside the boathouse overlooking the lake,” said Smith. “Looking at the Genius preserve I think would be my favorite part of the tour because that’s the most picturesque area. We always take photos of our customers there and we see them on social media afterward.”
The tour ends highlighting Rollins’ most famous alumni, Mr. Fred Rogers.
“The last stop on the tour but the most anticipated is the new Mr. Rodgers statue. Sometimes throughout the tour, people ask when we will talk about Mr. Rogers. We say we’re going to get there, so that’s our last stop and I think the suspension building of Mr. Rogers, our most famous alumni [makes the stop] my second most favorite,” said Smith.
For anyone interested in starting their own business, Noonan and Smith suggest: Do your research, figure out what makes your business unique, know your target audience, utilize your resources, and use your connections.
“You might have to go outside and ask people who are former Rollins students that are in the business force and have been in Winter Park for twenty to thirty years. They have an interest in helping the next generation of Rollins students succeed once they leave the campus,” said Noonan. “[P]eople don’t realize that in Winter Park there are a lot of Rollins people that are still in the area and doing all kinds of various different businesses, so I think the key thing is to leverage the relationships that you have built from going to school here if you’re a student who’s going to try and start something.”You can book a Winter Park Bike Tour at www.winterparkbiketour.com. They can be found on social media at winterparkbiketour, and there is a link on their website that people can click to schedule a tour.
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