My first “big adventure” ride remains my favourite. From the time I was 13, when I thought this was an epic ride, I have always ranked this local ride No. 1. Whether I was zipping out between classes or returning from six months in Europe or the U.S. and needed to hit the reset button, the Mactaquac Loop is a simple short loop with great views along the St. John River, a jewel that cuts through Fredericton, N.B.
From the south side of town (downtown), head west up river along Woodstock Road to Route 102 (known locally as the old Trans-Canada Highway). Route 102 has a wide shoulder, and traffic volumes are low and decrease as you get out of town (no trucks). The rolling hills increase, as do the views of the river, to the Mactaquac Dam.
Once across the Dam, you can see how you feel. You can head directly back to town on the north side of the St. John River on Route 105 (more views), crossing the Bill Thorpe Trail Bridge back to downtown and call it a 50-kilometre day. I have done this ride hundreds of times!
If you are feeling chipper, from the Dam you can head up Rocky Road to Keswick Ridge (Route 616) and Burtts Corner via the Tripp Settlement Road, then back to Route 105 to add approximately 20 kilometres and some significant elevation to this ride. Still feeling chipper?
From Burtts Corner, head up Route 617 instead of back to town, and hit the Kingsley Road for more hills and 10 more kilometres to the loop. A right turn on Kingsley Road will take you to Estey’s Bridge through forest and farmland. Head up McLeod Hill Road for one last burn before returning to the Bill Thorpe Trail Bridge and downtown.
If you are looking for more punishment, head left on Kingsley Road instead of right and ride to the village of Stanley on Route 620 through more forest and farmland (and hills). Once in Stanley, follow the Nashwaak River (yes, more views) along Route 107, crossing at Nashwaak Village and Route 148 home to Fredericton for a total of approximately 120 kilometres.
Time to treat yourself to a pint at one of the many microbreweries in town! (My personal favourite is the Grimross Maritime Pale Ale, but that means one more climb up Smythe Street!)
Build an appetite on the Mactaquac Loop with great views of the St. John River from the Bill Thorpe Trail Bridge.