Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fundy Coast Bike Trip

I'm betting over the past weekend we burned trough a few sets of brake pads. Transplant a half dozen Fredericton-trained riders into the rugged terrain of the Fundy coast and the brake levers suddenly get a workout. My index and middle fingers are actually feeling it today. I can't be the only one. Here's the run-down:

Fundy Park - Hastings Loop: I messaged Fundy Park and asked about rumors that the White Tail trail would be converted over to mountain biking. The response said that the project was no-go yet but he encouraged me to try a new 4.2 km single-track that the park had freshly built. Closed to all by cyclists. I was intrigued, and we all decided to check it out.

Park at the entrance to the Hastings auto-road at a huge lot that's freshly cleared. You'll see the trail at an archway marking the start. Head right at the split. The loop takes you around. I use the word 'trail' loosely to describe this. It's not a single-track as described. It more closely resembles a narrow, well-constructed gravel road. It's got a 15 foot right-of-way, a properly crowed and hardened 3' surface, and it's designed with purpose built curves and bumps through gradual to flat terrain. Riding it is pretty contrived and not to the style of any us who rode it. I won't come right out and say that it's foolish... but it's probably better catered to a crowd of families with young kids or those riding hybrid bikes. Don't make the trip for any 'single-track'. Liz and I had a lot more fun bombing the 114 highway from Chicgnecto campground to the Fundy Headquarters. We apparently did a little better than 60 kph on our mountain bikes. Now that's fun!

Alma - Green Snake: Outside Fundy park the Village of Alma had a bike trail built up 4 km of the Salmon river valley a few years ago. It was actually hard to find info about it online and I've never heard mention of it among Fredericton riders. It apparently was built over a summer using a wad of grant money from various sources but then fell into dispute over neighboring properties and liability concerns. Finding the trail-head is tricky. However don't give up.... this line not only exists... it's the best thing I've ever ridden! Hands down. Liz described it as "effing magical... like unicorns and rainbows were shooting out of our asses"!

The entire length of Green Snake is burmed and bench-cut into the steep river valley and neighboring plateau. It is smooth as a baby's bottom. The 4 km climb out goes pretty quickly and any in-shape novice can make it... it's neither technical... nor steep. But is is up the whole way. You will eventually be spat out at a junction to a logging road where the single track stops on top of the plateau. Catch your breath, take a drink and turn around. If you move with a purpose I bet you could be back to your car in less than 10 minutes! It will be the most exciting 10 minutes you'll spend that day. The decent is fast, flowy, and 100% manageable for a total beginner. That said, I think anyone of any level would enjoy it. Watch for some broken bridge planks (that appear to be in the progress of being repaired).

Park at the intersection of School and Falcon Ridge. Follow gravel road uphill.
Hillsborough - White Rock Recreation Area: This place is rad. The karst topography from the gypsum bedrock gives this place a real sense of terrain. Ridges, sinkholes, and steeps! There are also some fun curvy trails built on the mine tailings from the gypsum and Albertite mining that used to take place in the area. It's a unique terrain.

Getting a bit lost is a real possibility here. A map is not yet published (although it's in the works). I pieced together a map for the crew from some hearsay and some poached Strava data. The landscape is a spaghetti of single-track and ATV trails.. many of which are not visible from Google earth since the trees have crowned over. I contacted the HMBA for a map... they gave us a guided ride instead! Sweet! Dwayne and Susie joined up with us for the afternoon and took us to the best the place had. White Head follows the natural flow of a ridge for about a km and is probably as nice as anything gets. The Whoops feels like riding the rails of a mini roller-coaster and is super fast and smooth. Climbing the Heart-Attack hill is well worth it to take Viagra down a nice hardwood ridge back to the cars. The tempo of Viagra slowly picks up as you go from a casual roll to a heads-up downhill bomb. "If you don't come back down in 30 minutes call an ambulance". Classic.
Behind the golf course. Park at either end and look for trails.