349 + 23 Miles Down, 438 To Go

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5000 Holopaw Rd
St Cloud, FL 34773
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Today was a great day! I was dropped off where I left off around 6:30 this morning which wasn’t very fun but it left a lot of daylight to goof off at the cool stops scheduled.

The West-Orange Trail is second to none when it comes to bike traffic. The path is perfect, it’s scenic and serene, and all the people on it are super excited to say “Good Morning!” (Sort of annoying at 6:30 am but I digress)

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On this premier bike path is the premier bike city, Winter Garden. That is a city that has a lot to be proud of in having the vision to really capitalize on their trail assets before it was cool to do so. I’d love to know more history of how it all came to be and plan to talk to the Mayor when I’m back in town.

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Right on the main drag is a bike shop called “WheelWorks” which is owned by a very enthusiastic and supportive owner who donated a couple wheel tubes to the cause. The more I get to know professionals like JC & WheelWorks, the more I appreciate the whole culture and am excited to be a small part of it with my ride.

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From there I took a quick ride up the road a bit to Plant St Market, located towards the end of the significant downtown and was surprised by how cool it was. In the front half were all sorts of small shops including an organic meat market, restaurant, coffee shop, and juicing bar.

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There was also a bakery called Euro Bake World owned by Denny who graciously donated a Ham & Cheese Croissant. I am saying this with every ounce of honesty… that was by far the most delectable thing I have ever eaten in my entire life. For the rest of the day, I could not get out of my head the incredible taste of such a seemingly simple breakfast roll. I can’t wait to get back home and return with my wife to try everything on the menu. Seriously unbelievable. Go try it now.

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In the back of the building is a fledgling beer brewery, Crooked Can Brewing Company. Since they couldn’t serve until 11am and I’m not one to turn down a cold IPA when donated to the cause, I had an opportunity to take a tour of the facililty and came to find out the owners were also who built the entire marketplace. I took their information to discuss the possibility of such a facility in DeBary.

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The guys working, Josh & Ryan, were very knowledgable and very passionate about the Craft Beer movement. They even mentioned they had an opportunity to try DeBary’s Central 28 beer & were impressed. #DeBaryProud
At 11 sharp, they served up an perfectly chilled High-Stepper IPA and I let the hoppy citrus notes set my taste-buds ablaze. It was then I struggled with whether I should finish my trip or just camp out at Plant St Market eating croissants & drinking Crooked Can the next 9 days. I forced myself back on my aluminum steed and rode into the horizon like a heartbroke cowboy.

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From there I passed Disney to get to Kissimmee to meet Mayor Jim Swan. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting but it was nothing like anything I experienced while there. First of all, Kissimmee is big, beautiful, & busy. They have a bustling historical downtown with a phenominal park that is undergoing a 37 million dollar redevelopment project right on the headwaters of the Kissimmee River which as Mayor Swan describes, “leads into the St. Johns and ultimately around the world with no further need to step on land”. You also can’t miss the “Monument of States” built in 1941 with artfacts from each US state in a tall tower.

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MAXIM: Supporting local is way more exciting than frequenting traditional big box and gives a sense of pride to the act of spending the money. If nothing else, this trip has been an expose of quality local businesses making their communities unique, interesting, and prosperous.

Mayor Swan treated me to a pizza lunch at one of the countless local restaurants (which was delicious) where we talked shop. He is a very forward leader not short on confidence, experience, or insight. I may have annoyed him with all my prying questions but I couldn’t help but aspire to serve my community with the same gumption and absorb all I could. As a former County Commissioner, he was asked to serve Kissimmee when the Mayor seat opened up and has served nearly 10 years in that role seeing the city grow from 20,ooo to about 70,000 and economic development explode.

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Leaving Kissimmee, I felt great as I cruised through St Cloud and ultimately knocked out 23 miles of tomorrow’s route before stopping at Hollowpaw Baptist Church where I was happily offered a place to sleep, bathroom, & breakfast and discovered one of the guys here is related to a Glen Abbey resident who I recently did Screen work for. Small world! (Will share some pictures tomorrow or this really cool place)

Heading to Yeehaw Junction tomorrow and am very excited to get back on the road to the official halfway mark. It would seem I’ve hit my stride after 350 miles and feel more comfortable on the bike than off it, or maybe it’s just the muscle regeneration pills JC’s Bike Shop recently gave me starting to kick in. Either way, I pedal on in hope that our dream of a fully connected Volusia Trail system comes true!

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