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Wednesday 05 May 2010 – Williamsburg
We arrived at the Hampton Inn in Williamsburg after driving 1400 miles in 2 days with a stopover in Atlanta. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon and we decided that we had plenty of time to take a quick tandem ride through the historic downtown with a spin out to the Kingsmill resort to see where we would be staying for the next three days. We had good directions and had no trouble finding The Duke of Gloucester Street which is the main street. There are 88 buildings which have either been restored or reconstructed since the Rockefellers formed the Williamsburg Trust in the 1920’s. There is a real advantage to being on a bike, because cars are not allowed in Historic Williamsburg. We made a quick tour of the town and then started searching for a tavern to enjoy a refreshing beer. We discovered that our concept of a tradition tavern was modified here into upscale dining venues…not a rowdy bar where one could enjoy a tankard of ale. We eventually found a basement bar where we relaxed after the 8-hour drive from Atlanta. While visiting with the bartender we got a little insight into the restrictive drinking laws here as well as directions to the Kingsmill Resort at the Busch Gardens. The ride out was less than 10 miles from downtown. It is a golf / tennis / yacht basin type of resort…we were hoping to have a sandwich at the yacht club, but found it closed for a day due to painting of all of the outside chairs. We returned to the Hampton Inn with a stop at the Food Lion to pick up a six-pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. We only rode 18 miles, but it was good to be back on the bike after 1400 miles in the car. We had called Bill and Jan McCready (the Santana Tour organizers) about meeting for dinner so we could get information for a ride on Thursday morning. There was a classic bit of miss-communication fit for any slapstick movie. Bill said to meet at the Blue Heron Restaurant so we got information and directions from the desk clerk and headed 20 miles into the country to find a small seafood restaurant on an estuary of the James river, but we did not find Bill and Jan. A quick call to Bill revealed that they were enjoying dinner at the Blue Talon in Colonial Williamsburg 20 miles away. He confessed to giving me the wrong name but thought we would discover the faux pax and meet them…little did he know that there actually was a Blue Heron and we went on a wild goose chase. After talking to Bill we decided to eat there, but it was now 3 minutes past 8:00 when they officially closed and they refused to seat us. Frustrated, we returned to a restaurant in Williamsburg, enjoyed an Italian dinner and a bottle of wine and then returned to the Hampton for the evening.
Thursday 06 May 2010 – Williamsburg
Bill left a map for our morning ride at the front desk of the Hampton Inn. I verified the map using Mapquest so I would know how to drive to the starting point. After breakfast we checked out and drove to Toano, about 8 miles outside of Williamsburg to start our 21-mile loop through the countryside and farm land. The route was over low traffic and gently rolling roads. We had no problem following the map however at one point the road suddenly closed with barricade. Although Mapquest indicated a complete loop, we learned that the property had been recently purchased and was no longer under state management. We back tracked a few miles and finished with the same distance as if we had completed the loop…21 miles. We then drove to the Kingsmill Resort at the Busch Gardens to check in and pick up our registration packets for the rally. The Kingsmill Resort is an Anheuser-Busch company, which has golf courses, tennis club, and a marina. The accommodations are all condos, which are completely furnished apartments…very comfortable! There were 30 tandems registered for this rally…many we knew from previous trips but there were several new teams to meet as well. The first ride of the rally was a short ride into Colonial Williamsburg, which left at 1:30 in the afternoon. Bill started this ride with his usual safety lecture and a brief history of Williamsburg. The route took us through the resort to the Humelsine Parkway and onto the Colonial Parkway into Williamsburg. We had a few minutes to cruise the streets before we met our tour guides at 3:00 for a one-hour walking tour. There were two guides for our group…one was an architectural expert and the other was a history specialist. I chose the architectural tour while Becky elected to go on the history walk. I learned a lot about early construction techniques and styles of the period. Of the 88 structures in Colonial Williamsburg more are reconstructions than restorations, but the overall result is an amazing recreation of early colonial America. Following our tour we had a little time to ride through the town before returning to Kingsmill and the outdoor barbecue at the pro shop at the golf club. The evening buffet included a selection of salads, hamburgers, grilled chicken breast, bratwurst and kraut with fresh strawberry shortcake for dessert. It was a pleasant evening complete with a costumed musician playing period instruments and music of the period. The only shortfall of the evening was the beer selection…as you might expect since this an Anheuser-Busch company there were only bud products available…these fall far short of the standard of the Seveer Brewing Company!. Our total mileage for the day was 41 miles.
Friday 07 May 2010– Yorktown
After a much needed nights rest, we rode our bike to the Resort's main building for the breakfast buffet. This was a eye-popping display of every selection one could wish for including an omelet station…Becky particularly enjoyed the breakfast bread pudding. There was a room reserved for the Santana party where the conversations centered around bike trips and rallies from our past experiences. Around 8:00 Bill started his route talk with a brief Yorktown history and it’s significance in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars. To 20 mile ride from the Kingsmill to Yorktown went through Colonial Williamsburg to enter the Colonial Parkway. We had to ride through Williamsburg to avoid the Parkway tunnel which goes under the town because bikes are prohibited in the tunnel. Once on the Parkway we had 12 miles of the most ideal ride venue one could imagine…the rolling road cut through dense forest, over marshes and creeks and eventually along the James River shoreline. The pavement aggregate was a bit rough, but the scenery and low traffic more than compensated for the surface. We arrived at the Yorktown visitors’ center with plenty of time to see the exhibits and view the 15-minute film before we joined Ranger Mack for his one-hour plus history tour of the battlefield. I can write without hesitation that Ranger Mack was the best tour guide I have ever heard. He made the history live while adding one-line zingers that added just the right amount of humor. I came away with a better understanding of the many improbable circumstances that sequentially occurred while Cornwallis made blunder after blunder, which allowed us to break the bond with England. Soon his tour ended and we returned to the bike for an eight-mile tour of the historic battle grounds. We were greeted with a flat tire, which had to be fixed before we could continue. We rode the tour route through the national park with one stop at the Moore House where Cornwallis drew up the terms of surrender. The tour route had signs, which indicated the location of the French troops, the Colonial forces, the field hospitals, the artillery locations as well as any other sight of significance. We continued into Yorktown where we joined the rest of the rally at the Carrot Tree Restaurant for lunch. The restaurant is in a restored 18th century house that still has a cannon ball lodged in the wall. (I never found out if the cannon ball was from the Revolutionary or Civil War.) We enjoyed the fruit salad, Virginia ham sandwich and Brunswick stew, but the carrot cake was the most memorable lunch item. The ride back retraced the Colonial Parkway only this time we enjoyed a tail wind that helped shorten the return by several minutes, We arrived in Colonial Williamsburg at 4:00pm with time to see a street production of Benedict Arnold on his horse delivering his pacifist appeal to the population to end the fighting and remain loyal to the king. After Benedict finished his lines, we went into the capital building for a 30 minute guided tour and history lecture of the reconstructed Williamsburg Capitol building. It was after 5:00 when the tour ended and we discovered everything closed in town. We had thought we would pick up some souvenirs but that would have to wait. We completed the final 4 miles to the Kingsmill Resort; the trip odometer indicated 49 miles for the day. As we were carrying our bike up the stairs to the apartment, we made so much noise that Jan came our of her next-door room to see who was making all the racket. We chatted a few minutes and she asked us to join them at the Marina for dinner. After parking the bike and a quick shower, we walked to the marina and found Bill and Jan, Mary and Ed waiting on the deck. For the next two hours,, enjoyed lively conversation, good food and drink and a beautiful outside dining experience. This may turn out to be a very expensive dinner because I think we agreed to join the Chattanooga Rally on the Delta Queen next year at this time.
Saturday 08 May 2010 – Jamestown
We met the tour group at the breakfast buffet around 7:30 this morning. The buffet was the same today as yesterday which gave me a chance to try some of the selections that I had passed over the previous morning. Bill’s route talk did not include a lot of the history of Jamestown…instead he chose to have us discover the history at the Jamestown site. We started the ride at 9:00 under warm party cloudy skies, but with a steady 20 MPH wind. Our route out this time was again on the Colonial Parkway except this time we rode West toward Surry and into the wind. We passed right by the entrance to Jamestown Island…we would visit there in the afternoon. We crossed the James River on the Scotland / Jamestown ferry and headed towards Chippokes State Park. We stopped at the visitors center long enough to use the facilities and refill water bottles. From the state park we continued on a bike trail to the Chippokes Mansion…the grounds were open for visitation, but the buildings were closed. We stopped long enough to take a few pictures and then slugged onward into the 25 MPH headwind to the lunch stop at Surry. We arrived at the Surrey House restaurant at noon eager to have lunch and refill our water bottles. The heat, low humidity and high winds had combined to produce a powerful thirst. Thirty tandem teams descended on the restaurant and soon displaced all the regular customers. The menu offered a selection of sandwiches, peanut soup and a choice of desserts. I chose the BBQ pork sandwich while Becky selected the crab cake sandwich. Out of curiosity, we did split a bowl of peanut soup…it was like peanut butter only in a warm soup consistency…the vegetable soup was probably better. But the Lemon Chess Pie for dessert was excellent. After lunch, we only had 4 miles to go to the ferry with a wonderful tailwind. The ferry ride was interesting as we crossed the choppy James river in gale force winds…the spray and waves covered the deck and depending where one was standing provided a cool salty shower. The entrance to Jamestown Island was only a mile from the ferry landing. We stopped at the glass blowing exhibition and then continued on to the visitors’ center. We arrived just in time to catch the 3:00 guided tour. John Rolfe explained life in 1610 Jamestown in real time. Following his one hour presentation, we rode a short loop through the dense forest on the island and then returned to the Kingsmill with a glorious tail wind to push us home. We had covered 56 miles on today’s ride. After a shower and change, we walked to the marina to cap off a great day with a few drinks and a good dinner.
Sunday 09 May 2010 – Williamsburg
The final ride of the 4-day rally was an early 20-mile spin around Williamsburg and the Queen’s Lake residential area. There was no breakfast this morning because the closing event was a Mother’s Day Brunch, which was scheduled to start at 11:00. Not all of the registered teams were lined up to ride at 8:00 but there were enough so we could find some teams that rode at our pace. The ride included a few miles on route 199 before connecting to the Colonial Parkway. We took a turn off the parkway to make the three-mile loop around the lake. The conditions were ideal under bright blue skies and 53 degrees and only a slight breeze. After circling Queen’s Lake we returned to the parkway and then made our last tour through Colonial Williamsburg and finally back to the Kingsmill Resort. We packed the bike in the car and changed for the closing brunch. After checking out, we joined the rest of the rally teams for a sumptuous Mother’s Day brunch. The crowning feature of the buffet was the exceptional Virginia baked ham. Bill ended the rally with a preview of the upcoming Santana Tours and Rallies…he announced the 2011 Mother’s Day Rally would be in Chattanooga Tennessee with the Delta Queen as the hotel. For those team which registered at the brunch, he offered a free cabin upgrade; naturally we seized the opportunity and are now anticipating riding in the Chattanooga area next year. The teams dispersed quickly after Bill finished his talk. We promised to meet again and started our 1400 mile drive back to Houston.