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Once Homeless, Columbus Entrepreneur Starts Bicycle Tour Business

There’s a Columbus native who’s overcome adversity to realize a dream. Darren McGowan beat bouts of depression and homelessness to open a small business downtown. A handful of officials helped Darren McGowan with a ribbon cutting at his new business based at the Columbus Commons parking garage on Rich Street. McGowan developed the idea to take visitors on biking tours through the streets of Columbus. “I got the idea because I’m an avid bike rider and going through some of the neighborhoods here in Columbus I just felt that travelers, locals, just a lot of people would benefit from seeing the city from a bicycle,â€? McGowan says. In particular McGowan wants to show off the city’s historic places. “We’re hitting key places like the Kelton House where we’ll see the actual authentic Underground Railroad; also we’ll go through German Village, Goodale Park, Victorian Village, the Arena District, the Brewery District, the Statehouse,â€? McGowan says. “You know I’m just giving them a little bit of history that they can relate to.â€? His vision might not have come to fruition if he had not received assistance from a variety of agencies, among them the Ohio Department of Development, where Christiane Schmenk is director. “He has done a great job and he is bringing a very needed service to downtown Columbus so we’re excited about it,â€? Schmenk says. McGowan is excited too. But at one point, not long ago, it seemed that his dream was unattainable. Though he’d once had a career as an award-winning chef, he began, in his mid-forties to descend into deep depression. He found himself homeless for almost a year. But, McGowan says, he was able to get help. “My depression hit an all-time low and I was able to get the medication that I needed and, you know, start living life to the fullest,â€? he says. And that includes operating a bike touring and rental business headquartered near Columbus Commons. Boyce Safford, the director of development for the city of Columbus, was one of the dignitaries on hand to help with the ribbon cutting and well-wishing. “These are nice bikes. Real nice bikes. Real attractive for folks. And they’re distinctive, too, so you know who owns them. I’m happy for him; real happy for him,â€? Safford says. Visitors can go to McGowan's website columbusbiketours.com to sign up. The 3-hour tours are available mornings and afternoons, Wednesdays through Sundays.