Each day, except the last, had between two and four routes of varying distances to choose from. They were all extremely well marked with color coded signs. Someone always gets lost, but you have to really be snoozing at the wheel to do so. The maps came in a colorful unbound magazine format with routes, distances and descriptions of events for each day. Being unbound meant you could carry just what you needed for a single day. The only drawback was that it was expensive enough that there were no spares. If you lost any pages or disolved them in sweat, you were out of luck.
During parts of the ride that traveled on busy or dangerous sections of road, there was adequate police protection. The last day crossed two bridges and riders were grouped and given a police escort. On the day when we crossed to Jamestown on a ferry, riders were grouped by police and orderly filed on and off with the auto traffic. Massages, yoga classes, misting stations and a shaded hospitality tent were available every day.
There was a day and a half, however, on the Colonial Parkway which is paved with a concrete mix with a very course aggregate. If you look closely at the picture on this page, you can see the large embedded stones. This, after a chip and seal century, made me feel more physically beaten up after BV than I ever have on any other ride. You'll also note the expansion joint running the length of the road. A few years ago, a RAGBRAI rider was killed after getting a wheel stuck in one of these. This year, several riders had exactly the same kind of accident on BV though none were killed. This same day, the route took us along a paved path through the Yorktown battlefields. Unfortunately, many very small stones were getting embedded in tires along this brief loop. (I think it was about twelve miles.) The bike shop support group reported repairing 200 tires that day.
Hopewell is an industrial city which has seen better times. It's probably best known for the kepone insecticide spill in the 1970s. These days it's not hard to find the poverty which has overtaken this area. Despite this, Hopewell provided good accommodations, friendly locals, and great entertainment from a pair of local bands at a downtown party.
Williamsburg, on the other hand, is a growing well-off community. There's an entire brand new downtown area called "new town" a short distance from the restored colonial town. While the streets were safer and the dinner at William and Mary College was superb, Hopewell threw a better party. Although the indoor jazz performance at the college was very good and a welcome respite from the oppressive southern heat.
In spite of that, I made it through Blandford Church which has a still-active cemetery that was originally opened to bury 30,000 civil war dead, the Petersburg civil war battlefield park, Yorktown where the British were defeated and Colonial Williamsburg. There were opportunities to explore Jamestown, historic parts of Smithfield as well as some museums and other destinations. Some family members visited me in the afternoon after riding on a couple of days and we spent more time going through Colonial Williamsburg and New Town.
Two meal plans are also available at additional cost. There's one plan for dinner and one for breakfast. Breakfasts were held at the campground in the school cafeteria and featured things like scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, waffles and pastries. Dinners varied each night and ranged from pasta to mexican food. I'd recommend the breakfast plan highly and the dinner plan is nice as well, though you might wish to try local restaurants instead. With the full set of meal plans, you can do Bike Virginia with no cash and just carry a credit card for emergencies. Perhaps the best dinner was an "all you can eat" night in the William and Mary college cafeteria. There was vegeterian pasta, burgers, fries, pizza, a full salad bar and more.
Another feature was that every day there was an ice cream truck and a fresh barbeque stand available on a cash basis at the campground every day. The barbeque is really nice for exhausted riders who'd rather just eat and get some sleep than go into town for food. The ice cream truck was really nice for taking the edge off the heat.
Bike Virginia is not cheap. I spent $318 for registration and both meal plans. This, however, covers almost everything you need from food, to entertainment, to bag transport, to showers and SAG and more.