Hardly anybody from Chapel Hill goes to Myrtle Beach anymore. Snobbism has taken hold. This is too bad because Myrtle Beach can be a fascinating place, and it has a beach! It is a string of beach towns that are marketed as The Grand Strand. I wanted to go somewhere for one night. In Chapel Hill the weather was going to be very cold. I needed to drive south before I started bicycle riding.
I had considered going to more rural areas of South Carolina. I often am in the mood for country rides on narrow South Carolina highways. These sometimes include scary close-passing pickup trucks. For some reason today I was not in the mood for that.
I have biked through strings of beach towns on a large portion the East Coast. I grew up bicycling all over a beach town, Virginia Beach. Biking in a beach town off-season is nice for two reasons:
One, if you follow the ocean it is impossible to get lost.
Two, there are usually residential street grids that follow the beach, and continue for many miles.
If you bicycle in the off-season with hardly any traffic it can be interesting, safe, and pleasant. Longer beach rides I have done that are quite nice include Sandy Hook to Seaside Park NJ, Atlantic City to Cape May NJ, Fernandina Beach to Jacksonville Beach to St. Augustine to Daytona Beach FL, and Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale FL. Fort Lauderdale to Miami Beach to Homestead FL is a great bike ride but occasionally there are dicey traffic situations. Of course bicycling from Key Largo to Key West is almost perfect, but I cannot really consider that beach town riding.
Myrtle Beach SC is only just OK for bicycling. The Grand Strand is at least thirty miles long. One can bicycle on long stretches of pleasant residential streets following the ocean, but these are broken up in about four places where a bicyclist has to go out to the major highway US17 for short stretches. There are lots of workarounds, including riding briefly on the US17 sidewalk.
I drove about four hours from Chapel Hill with my new Bike Friday in the back of our Prius, and parked in a municipal boat launch in Cherry Grove Beach, about the northernmost part of the Strand. I pulled the bicycle out.
I just started bicycling down the beach road, following the line of motels and summer cottages. There was a big crowd at the Cherry Grove Fishing Pier.
What makes beach town cycling nice is miles and miles of roads like these.
My favorite buildings Myrtle Beach are the modernist 1950-60’s motels. In my hometown of Virginia Beach these are more or less completely gone. Other resort cities have chosen to highlight these places. Apparently not here. There are a lot left in Myrtle Beach but every year there are fewer and fewer.
Another one bites the dust
Anyone who wants to see more pictures of motels, look at my blog from five years ago. Some of those motels are still here; some, sadly are not.
On this current trip I spent the night at the Surfside Beach Oceanfront Hotel. It is quite nice and cost less than a hundred dollars, at least in November.
This was the view from my balcony. One does not ever see that POW-MIA flag in Chapel Hill.
I ate dinner across the street at Bubba’s Fish Shack.
Although people were waiting for a table I was able to sit at the bar.
One does not see couples dressed in cammo in Chapel Hill either.
Bubba’s has good food for low prices. Fried calamari with pepper jelly had a lot of subtlety for a dish costing only $ 6.99.
The next day I more or less doubled back the way I came, passing through downtown Myrtle Beach.
I like the vibe of older parts of Myrtle Beach.
For a late breakfast I sat at a Starbucks, stared out the window, and then read The New Yorker on my kindle.
I biked back to the car and was home in time for dinner.