Health & Fitness Issue: Rollin’ on the river

click to enlarge Paige Sweeney takes her dog Faraday for a water bike ride. - Chip Weiner
Chip Weiner
Paige Sweeney takes her dog Faraday for a water bike ride.

Last October, Dan Fleischbein looked out his Harbour Island office window and came up with an idea.

An executive recruiter with Lucas Group, he was enrolled in USF’s Master’s in Entrepreneurship program (class of 2015) and was pondering how he could start his own company.

The view of Tampa’s Riverwalk gave him the inspiration he needed.

He saw an opportunity for a business that would tap into the new synergies developing on Tampa’s downtown waterfront, provide a novel way to exercise, and a chance to be at once on the water and close to downtown.

He and his wife Amanda purchased a used pontoon boat and 10 brand new Hydro Bikes. Tampa Bay Water Bike Company was born.

According to Fleischbein, water bikers need no special training and can even ride in a business suit without fear of getting wet. The hydro bikes float on pontoons and are built to withstand water. The pedals are connected to a propeller at the rear to aid propulsion, and the handlebars are connected to a rudder in front for steering.

Fleischbein thinks the bikes will appeal to everyone from tourists staying at downtown hotels to office workers looking for an alternative way to exercise during lunch hour. Riders can even bring along a canine companion, as long as the dog is small to medium in size.

Fleischbein, who left Lucas Group just after Thanksgiving to work fulltime on his new business, thinks the water bikes will be a perfect complement to the amenities of the Riverwalk. Scheduled to open this week, TBWBC will dock behind the Tampa Convention Center close to The Sail Pavilion, where water bikers can wet their whistles after a ride on the river.

The bikes rent for $30 an hour with package and group discounts available. Hours vary on weekdays and weekends.

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