What's not to like?
Well, the inaugural ride 8/2013 took over 12 hours for Tom, Jacob and Ron who typically finish these in 10 hours or less. There were multiple flat tires as well as JUST missing a ferry departure which added a bunch of additional time lost. Their experience soured everyone.
Well, I'm telling you it ought not be that way.
So, "why the hell would I want to ride this?"
Did you even look at the map? Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Terrific views of the James and York Rivers. Colonial Parkway is closed to commercial traffic, so no large trucks. Plus it is 2 lanes of traffic but is 3 lanes in width, so even when you encounter traffic, it feels quite safe. Plus, the road itself a National Park, for crying out loud. Trees and shade, gently rolling terrain, what more could you ask?
Also, if you have ridden the aforementioned populaire, this has new routing going back to Smithfield which is interesting.
So, what's the catch?
OK. You do have to adjust your thinking versus other rides. The twin ferry crossings require 20 minutes each way, PLUS boarding and exiting the ferry, PLUS waiting for the ferry if you are unlikely with your timing. That can all easily add up to an hour you need to plan on beyond your usual 200k time.
The parkway road surface is exposed aggregate; not asphalt. That means 50 miles of seams between the slabs plus a rough texture. I rode using 32 mm wide tires at 65 psi and Bill used 28 mm tires at 85. He said he was fine and I know I forgot about the difference from asphalt within the first 10 miles. If, however, you believe that those tires will mean it slows you down, then, take that into consideration as well.
Supplies need to be planned for. Yorktown has a limited number of options, Colonial Williamsburg options aren't obvious and can be busy and pricey. There are controls 4 miles before the first and 8 miles after the second ferry crossing so it's really about planning for the 50 miles from Jamestown to Yorktown and back.
And here's the kind of stuff you can see
Boarding the ferry (this was on the return)
View as we leave the dock
Bill and his bike
Ferry, "Surry" heading in the opposite direction
Gulls in the ferry wake
Cormarants on one of the pilings at the dock
James River on the way to Williamsburg
Farm near Jamestown
Overpasses along the parkway (look like those seen on the Blue Ridge Parkway)
Cannons at Yorktown
Here's the Ride With GPS route
Here's the link to the route on the RUSA site