Post PCB

Date: March 5th 2017

From/To: Panama City Beach FL/Mary Esther FL

Daily Mileage: 50 miles

Total Mileage: 365 miles

Conditions: Mostly overcast, mid 60s. Strong winds from the south

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One of PCB’s many beautiful Gulf Coast Sunsets. (Photo credit: Marissa Gardner)

With all the excitement these past few days, I almost forgot I was biking across the country. In other words I had a good weekend in Panama City Beach, with great company.

I woke up around 10:00AM, and realizing I had a relatively short day took my time preparing for the trek. I had breakfast at my friend Stephanie’s house, where I stayed this weekend. Afterwards I gathered all my gear, racked up my bike, and set off from PCB towards Mary Esther. I was told todays ride would be beautiful because I was taking the scenic route to Mary Esther. It certainly was, as I passed through some of the more upscale towns on the Emerald Coast. I started off on Route 98 which is a very busy and dangerous road. After about 10 miles I made it to 30A where the ride became much more enjoyable.

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Todays route, courtesy of MapMyRun.

Many of the towns I passed through gave off a European vibe, with small brick roads, unique architecture, and beautiful views of the coast. For most of the trip I was on sidewalk paths that ran alongside the road for pedestrians and bikers alike. At certain points it was difficult to move very fast due to the number of people on the paths as I went through these towns. One of the most interesting places I saw today was Alys Beach, a town of white houses, white buildings, white everything.

The vision for Alys Beach is carefully crafted to celebrate the public realm of streets, parks, pedestrian paths, and great civic buildings in a manner reminiscent of the world’s most beloved seaside towns. In recognition of the strong draw of the sea, a network of streets run perpendicular to the beach, guaranteeing warm light and views to the Gulf, and funneling cooling sea breezes into the heart of the town.

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Alys Beach (Images taken from Google)

Midway through the ride I came across another tour biker named Kenny. He looked almost identical to me with all the gear he was carrying on his bike, and we both stopped in unison as we approached each other, noticing the irony of our similar appearance.

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Even more ironic, he was biking from the west coast to the east, so he soon finishing up his journey, realizing then that I was just starting mine. I picked his brain on what he learned from the cross-country ride and gained some good advice. He went through some places I was going to, and mentioned key locations I should stop at. It was interesting to meet another person on the road with a similar story, thats hardly happened at all thus far. After about 15 minutes of me annoying him with questions, I finally let him go on his way. I continued on with a new confidence about the journey ahead. My ride today took just under four hours from start to finish.

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Bike lanes are typical in Florida, which makes it much safer to ride on busy roads. Kenny told me not to get used to these lanes, because when I move into Alabama and Mississippi I’ll be on shoulder-less roads!

I made it to Mary Esther around 5:00 and found a mom and pop sub shop to have dinner. I left there in search for a place with Wi-Fi (not even thinking about where I was sleeping tonight…) and found Starbucks down the road. After about five hours of video editing and blogging I realized that I had to settle for a cheap motel, seeing that nothing was available on Warm Showers and I was not comfortable with the idea of wild camping (yet). I made my way to the motel and was soon off to bed. Tomorrow I’ll be leaving Florida and spending the night on an island in Alabama (yes, I said an island). It’s 90 miles to my next destination, and some needed rest is in order before I set off. Come back to see how this experience turns out tomorrow!

Enjoy The Ride,

-Matt

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