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Stage 726 – Mactaquac to Fredericton

You may recall that in the preview of stage 725, the issue of Grand Lake was mooted. The lake is thirty miles from top to bottom and stands directly in the way of where ATW is just now to Moncton where the route passes ahead of the final push into Nova Scotia. Consequently, the ATW route must head either north or south sooner rather than later in order to avoid a wasteful tour alongside the lake itself. Stage 726 is the stage that makes that choice and I can reveal that the journey’s going south! This stage has got some really big lumps in it, not least the last one which kicks in at fourteen miles and takes a sledgehammer to your legs, even if it is for only ten minutes.

The rollout is uphill, which is no surprise because the climb started at the end of stage 725 and this is just the rest of it. From Mactaquac, Highway 105 curves left around the edge of Mactaquac Provincial Park then at the top end of the park, with two miles on the clock, dives down to cross an offshoot of the St John River that branches off north like a finger-like lake.

Now on the northern bank of the river, you could be forgiven for thinking that the road would remain north and go that way around Grand Lake. Wrong! The road immediately turns south off the bridge and a couple of miles later, recrosses the St John River onto the south bank. However H105 hangs a left along the northern side of the river to Douglas and the road south that crosses the river a second time is Highway 102. Two river crossings into the stage and the route has arrived in French Village at five miles, directly opposite the start pen but on the other side of the water.

As the river meanders, the road doesn’t, so when it turns left out of French Village, it climbs: but then it descends: then it climbs a little and descends some more until the road rolls into Island View at ten miles. The community looks out over Burpee Island which plays host to the Burpee Bar Nature Reserve in the middle of the St John River. But this is all a preamble and as the road rolls on through the districts of Silverwood and Springhill, it’s merely to set up “the climb”.

At Garden Creek, approaching the city of Fredericton, Highway 102 curves right. The river does too eventually, but the road takes a shortcut over the hill through Bishop Heights, hanging a right/left/right over Route 8 along the way. The hint is in the name. The road rises three hundred feet in two miles and by the time is reaches the intersection where Route 7 branches off east to cross the river and head north around Grand Lake, the ATW route has reached the highest point on the stage: that’s approaching eighteen miles.

Off the top, the road drops back down through the districts of Skyline Acres, Southwood Park and Doak Settlement to set up the finish approaching Fredericton International Airport which sits on the western side of the river across from Oromocto Island.

Distance: 22 miles / 35 kilometres

Ascent: 892 feet / 272 metres

RGT Magic Road: dk1jHojHZiqt

Total distance: 45.99 mi
Max elevation: 317 ft
Min elevation: -23 ft
Total climbing: 1637 ft
Total descent: -1705 ft

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