Panama City Beach is synonymous with waterfront restaurants, white-sand beaches, and spring breakers. But Ryan Meyer wants to show tourists the hidden side of PCB that he fell in love with just two short years ago.
Ryan hails from the Midwest, where he worked in corporate America as a psychologist. He’s not your typical Florida outdoorsman. He’s not a fisherman and he’s not a hunter, but he is a cyclist. During his recent job search, he’d often bike into the local state park before his job interview to clear his head.
“I would sit there and think, is this as special as I think it is?” said Ryan, cast under wild Florida’s spell. “I just knew I wanted to show it off.”
Ryan was determined to share the slice of heaven he’d found with as many people as possible. The idea for Bikes, Bagels, & Brew was born. Ryan married his love for a good bagel (topped with bacon, egg, and cheese, of course) and a cup of coffee after a long morning ride and started offering bike tours to panhandle tourists. Since its inception six months ago, Bikes, Bagels, & Brew has led 87 bike tours to a total of 292 guests. Ryan says his bike tour guests have been surprised by their experiences.
“They have no idea what they’re about to see,” said Ryan. “As soon as we enter those gates [at St. Andrew’s State Park], it’s like ‘Ok, this is special, this is different.’”
Bike tour guests do not go without a lesson in local flora and fauna. Ryan preaches precautions: do not feed the wildlife and leave no trace of their excursion behind. He says he likes to talk about the plants growing near the trails, the deer that run along the bike path, brumating habits of the park’s alligators, and the local population of Florida black bears.
“When I tell people we have bears here, I get a lot of, ‘Get out of here!’ and, ‘That’s wild!’” Ryan says, noting 95% of his guests are tourists unfamiliar with the area. “We have about 4,000 black bears in Florida. We don’t have bears where I’m from!”
The Florida black bear is Bikes, Bagels & Brew’s (also known as B3ars to represent the 3 Bs) mascot. A black bear holding a cup of coffee is pictured in the B3ars’ logo, symbolizing the importance of appreciating and conserving their habitat in the Panama City area.
As his business grows, philanthropic pursuits are at the forefront of his philosophy. Ryan recently donated to the Foundation on behalf of conserving black bear habitat. In addition to his support of the Foundation, Ryan hopes to start donating bikes locally to children to encourage their love of Florida biking trails.
More information about B3ars can be found on their website or Instagram account. Join Ryan in supporting the Foundation by visiting our Funding Priorities page. Bears not your thing? Whatever you love most about wild Florida, we are committed to helping you support it. The best part is, your donation goes to the cause of your choice. So pick a project and show some love to what you love most about Florida’s wildlife.