A few Christmases ago, DeMario Pressley bought bikes for his wife, Kristle, and daughter, Delainie, which they used on the Big Creek Greenway once the weather warmed up.
After the first ride, Kristle told DeMario about how much fun they had and how much they wanted him to come next time.
“He’s like, ‘I know, but I’m not buying a bike. I’m a big guy and I’m not going to buy a bike that I’ll just use recreationally and spend all that money,’” Kristle recalled. “I was like, ‘I know. It would be perfect if we could rent a bike … Maybe we can.’”
With that, the husband-wife duo did their research, decided to get into the bike rental business and started Geaux Bikes, a new bike share program coming to Fowler Park starting on Saturday, June 8 and later this summer to the upcoming Halcyon Forsyth development.
“I just thought it was a really cool concept, and, as a mom, everything about my life is about convenience now. Having to lug my bike [to the Greenway] and all of our bikes …, I did it twice and I was like, ‘I’m done with this. It’s too much,’” Kristle said. “The convenience of it drew me to it, then once I saw how easy it is to do it from experiencing other places, I fell in love with it.”
Bikes can be rented for $5 an hour, and all arrangements can be made from a smartphone app called BLOOM Sharing, which also provides a map, current speed and other information once the ride starts. The bikes even come with mounts for phones on the handlebars.
“This can all be done before you even arrive at the park,” Kristle said. “You download the app, create a user profile with your email address, you can put in a credit or debit card you want to use there. Once you get … to the bike station, you open up the app, it helps you locate a bike, you scan the QR code on the bike it finds for you and you start your ride.”
Kristle said the app will store information so riders only have to do the setup once and there are plans to offer package deals for a certain amount of ride hours at a discounted rate.
Once Halcyon opens this summer, a smaller rental location will be at the live-work-play development.
“The Greenway will connect to Halcyon, so people can ride from here to Halcyon, hang out, work, play, do whatever they want or they can grab a bike from Halcyon and explore the Greenway,” Kristle said. “And, it connects with Vickery [Village,] so you have a few chances to stop and explore along the way.”
While those are the only locations with firm plans right now, DeMario said he would eventually like to see a bike station at every trailhead on the Greenway.
“Right now, this phase is a pilot just to see how the community responds,” DeMario said. “We hope and expect that the community is like, ‘Oh my gosh, we love it.’ Then we can expand to other parks as well, but for now, the pilot is with Fowler Park and will be right across the way from the skate park.”
The program has been approved by the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Board and county commissioners.
Those unfamiliar with French or Louisiana sports teams might have some trouble pronouncing the company’s name – “geaux” rhymes with “go” – but the reasoning for the name is important to the family.
The Pressleys met in New Orleans, Kristle’s hometown, soon after DeMario, a former defensive tackle from North Carolina State University, was drafted by the NFL’s New Orleans Saints in 2008.
“I met her after two or three months and it was over,” DeMario said. “It was over. I fell in love.”
After a career with the Saints that included being a part of the Super Bowl XLIV-winning team in the 2009-10 season, DeMario played with the Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears before retiring and moving on to other opportunities.
“At some point in there when we were engaged, we decided that we wanted to move and kind of start our own family and find our own way, so we ended up here in Cumming,” he said.