photography by Jason Stephens
Beth Geohagan tells us how a passion for casual bicycling created a business that shows riders the best of beautiful Lakeland
Beth Geohagan is a Lakeland personality. Bright, passionate, and happy, she can often be found traveling our city on her brightly colored bicycles, sharing her passion with passersby and those intrigued enough to experience a tour with BeFly Bike Tours. Through BeFly, Beth has found the perfect crossroads for her love of both Lakeland and cycling.
The Lakelander: Tell us about your background and connection to Lakeland.
Beth Geohagan: I was born and raised here in Lakeland. My dad and my son attended Dixieland Elementary, and I rode my bike to Scott Lake Elementary every year from kindergarten through sixth grade. My family has been active in church, sports, and business for many years. I don’t know if it’s still there, but my dad had his name on the gym wall at Lakeland High School for pitching a perfect game.
TL: What inspired BeFly Bike Tours?
BG: My son, Colin, was about six years old, and we were riding our bikes near our house in the South Lake Morton Historic District, Dixieland, and downtown. We were using our bikes as vehicles on short trips to the grocery store, parks, lakes, library, museum — and we were having so much fun! We discovered how easy it is to travel by bike, and I discovered that all I want to do is ride my bike.
I began to study successful people when I worked for CPS Investment Advisors, and I had an interest in becoming successful myself. I used to say that I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, and then I started reading the Investor’s Business Daily, and Donald Trump’s book Trump 101, along with asking questions about success. I learned that passion is the key to success. I started asking myself, “What am I passionate about? What will make me happy? How can I do what I love and earn a living with the intention of saving money for retirement?” I found the answers that I was looking for. I am passionate about bicycling, spending time with my son, and having fun. I took these answers and went full-time into researching bike tours across the country and found out that it is something that was not only going to fulfill my personal desires, but would allow others to have fun, enjoy the beauty of Lakeland, and experience it all on a bike ride!
TL: How big is your fleet of bikes? What do BeFly customers ride on the tour?
BG: I wanted an easy bicycle for people to ride, so I knew that I was going to choose a cruiserstyle bike with single gearing and crank brakes. I spent a lot of time on Google looking at the different brands of bikes that are available and wasn’t really finding any that fit with what I wanted. I wanted bikes that stood out from the crowd. I wanted cruisers that looked stylish and like a lot of fun. I was already on a roll with customizing the name of the business, the business plan, the logo, and the different tour packages. I wanted my “Lake Cruisers” to reflect the originality of my entire concept as well. I found Villy Customs and immediately knew I found my bikes. Villy Customs has an amazing website where I was able to custom design the bikes I wanted and preview them, and save a copy of the picture of the online bike. I think I probably designed about a thousand different bikes that all looked different, but I could only afford to start with four men’s and four women’s. The first eight BeFly Bike Tours “Lake Cruisers” are brightly colored bikes that I designed, and I am pretty proud of them! They were able to put my logo on the seat covers and the chain guards. One of the inspiring things about Villy Customs is that they were featured on ABC’s Shark Tank.
TL: You offer tour packages for those both familiar and unfamiliar with Lakeland. Tell us about the tours.
BG: All of the tours are fully customizable based on your interests. I have a variety of tour packages that include: Lake Hopping, Park Hopping, Art is in Heart, Brick and Mortar, Blast From the Past, and I Love You. All of the tours begin somewhere in the downtown area; each tour is a one-of-a-kind experience. I deliver the“Lake Cruisers” to the predetermined location, and once we are all educated on the safety rules of bicycling, we set off on our adventure. The tours last two hours, and we stop a lot for pictures, learning, and overall enjoyment. There’s something that is so refreshing about being on a bike and enjoying the beauty of downtown Lakeland with the wind in your face, that it doesn’t even feel like I’m exercising! BeFly bikes are also available for daily, weekend, and weeklong rentals.
TL: What makes Lakeland such a great place to tour on two wheels?
BG: I love my Lakeland, and I express my affection for this city by inviting people to explore its streets and buildings and natural wonders via two wheels. The fact that my guests connect with the beauty here with a bicycle is no trivial matter. The bicycle moves at the perfect speed for people to soak up the sights and learn about architecture, history, and culture while moving at a pace that covers the practical ground necessary in a city that offers so much. Lakeland is rich with culture, and through my bicycle tours I link Lakeland’s city parks, locally owned businesses, unique Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and, of course, our gorgeous, inspiring lakes.
I love my Lakeland, and I express my affection for this city by inviting people to explore its streets and buildings and natural wonders via two wheels.
TL: Tell us about your efforts to make Lakeland more bicycle-friendly.
BG: Besides offering unique urban bicycle tours, my love for bicycling extends to becoming a respected local community bicycle leader, as I have partnered with regional transit officials on bicycle transportation initiatives and worked on several bicycle community programs such as Bike to School Day, Bike to Work Day, a bicycle festival called CycleMania, and a bike ride to memorialize bicyclists who have died, in a Ride of Silence event. Currently, I volunteer with Safe Routes to Schools and the Lakeland Police Department in classrooms and in community events as a certified helmet fitter, and assist with safety education during bicycle rodeos. I work with city officials, local businesses, community influencers, and all Lakelanders to maintain and grow the bicycle-friendly aspects of our community. In order for a community to become bicycle friendly, everyone must be educated that a bicycle is a vehicle and has the same rights and responsibilities of travel on our roadways.
TL: What are your future plans for BeFly?
BG: I strongly believe the good vibe and mojo of BeFly Bike Tours will continue to take flight with the upcoming Yoga Tours featuring Deanne DeForest, president of BodySong Wellness LLC. Deanne and I have partnered for an exciting bike tour experience with a creative fitness flair — yoga! As a fitness professional, personal trainer, and occupational therapist, she will guide our guests in a variety of amazing yoga poses at different locations on our route. She specializes in outdoor yoga practices and wellness education workshops in beautiful locations, and provides holistic health services such as relaxation, mindfulness, and life coaching.
I am also starting to look at our extensive bicycle trails throughout the state of Florida and will start to plan overnight and weekend excursions.
TL: If someone is interested in a Bike Tour, how can they contact BeFly?
BG: They can text or call 863.899.1818, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the website at www.beflybiketours.com and like us on Facebook. See what other riders have said at http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Reviewg34373-d3617523-Reviews-BeFly_Bike_Tours-Lakeland_Florida.html.
TL: Final thoughts?
BG: I strongly believe that bicycling builds communities. I want to encourage everyone to ride their bikes! The American Bicycling Education Association and CyclingSavvy are the best resources for education for bicyclists and motorists.