Frank-ly Fantastic

I had a fantastic ride today up on the Frank trail, mere minutes from my house. But I made a grievous error by forgetting my camera, sorry for no photos. Even though the hills look pretty dead, the grass is coming up to add a hint of green and I regret not being able to take some pictures of it.

My objective was reverse Frank. Frank is the nickname given years ago to a collection of trail segments that makes for a really good ride. Frank normally starts at Canyon Glen Park (up Provo Canyon a ways) then climbs up and makes it's west over to the mouth of the canyon. I wanted to ride it in reverse, as is commonly done. I've done it before, but some talk of the trail over on Rick's blog got me excited to ride it again.

I started from my house and rode up the water tank road (above the Orem Cemetery). At the base of the last climb, I took a left onto what is normally the end of Frank. I revved up for the first steep, short slope, but I botched the attempt. Grumble. Not how I like to start a trail ride. I pushed up the steep part and got riding again. I've done this climb before and I knew it is pretty steep with a final pitch that gets even steeper. I made it close to the summit before I ran out of air. I was hoping I was in better shape, but it's clear I need to gain some more fitness before I can clean this section. The rest of this "ridge" section was very enjoyable as it rolls along.

As a side note, there is an easier way to start reverse Frank. If you finish the final climb on the road, and continue on it north, you'll see a trail forking off to the left. There is some climbing, but it's moderate. Still, the "official" reverse Frank is worth some pushing because after the first climb you ride some sweet single-track instead of a dirt road.

I rolled past the junction where the easier trail comes in on the right, and then a bit further, the trail taking off to the left that I took last year that turned out to be so nice. I continued up until the left turn for the new trail that was cut in a year or so ago. It bypasses a nasty, eroded and step spot in the original trail. It's entertaining as it weaves through the brush. I almost missed the left turn for the even newer trail that essentially parallels the new trail but is a bit higher on the hill to avoid the one spot in the new trail that is just steep and loose enough that it's tough to clean on a bike. The newer trail is thin and a fun challenge to stay on. Back in the trench of the old trail I huffed and puffed along. I was disappointed in myself that I ran out of gas again and stopped. After a short breather I continued on to the altar.

The altar is a 3' pile of rocks at the intersection of 4 trails. Straight ahead is the Great Western Trail (GWT) as it makes it's way to the top of Dry Canyon and eventually over the saddle of Big Baldy. Left is a really fun trail that takes you over to Dry Canyon above the grey cliffs. Right is down the GWT and is more of Frank. This is also the summit of the ride (Frank). I turned right and started my downhill run. It's a bit rocky but I really enjoy ripping down this section. More loose rock that usual (my hat's off to those who can climb this thing!), probably just normal for Spring, but still a good time.

I hit the road and thought about going back (west) to drop into the race track (a fantastic trail circuit above the new Timpanogos Park), but I decided to stay on Frank so I pedaled to essentially the end of the road and jumped on single-track again. This section descends a rocky ridge west of Johnson's Hole and it almost always puts a big grin on my face. Bike rattling, chain slapping - just ripping down through the rocks.

Below Johnson's Hole there's some technical fun and I could see a whole bunch of runners. I thought about continuing down to Canyon Glen Park, but I don't think the runners coming up the trail would have appreciated that so I went with them along the pipeline dirt road. It's mostly flat and a fast ride. I had to dodge runners, but it wasn't bad. When I arrived above Timpanogos Park I decided to take a lap on the Race Track, but I took a wrong turn and came up a gully to start the ride instead of coming in the usual way, but no big deal.

The Race Track is a wonderful mix of trail riding features. You have some moderate climbing, some dips through gullies, some windy turny stuff and a few rocky spots, but mostly it's smooth single-track. I did my lap and as I was just getting off the course when my wife called to tell me she was coming up the access road. In less than a minute she met me and I did another lap with her. I'm glad she decided to get out for a ride - I enjoyed riding with her. We got on the paved Provo River trail and took it back to 800 North then took city streets back to our house.

Even though I conked out a few times, it was a really good ride. It felt great to be out riding the mountain bike on these fantastic trails.

Postscript: The FSA XC-300 wheel I had been running kept popping tubes (because the rim strip had peeled back exposing some spoke holes) so I switched over to the wheel I built. I put the cassette, brake rotor and rim tape on it last night. I'm happy to report it didn't collapse and cause me to break my hip (nothing but love, Kenny!).

Bonus: Map of the Provo Canyon race track trail


UtRider said...

The only reason a rim would cause flats (that I can think of at least) is exposed spoke holes on the inside. Is your rim tape wide enough? I had that issue on a road wheel until I replaced the tape. Is the tire the same across your wheels? If not, perhaps there is something stuck in the tire that protrudes enough to eventually puncture your tube.

Did I ever mention that in my 2+ years of mountain biking that I have yet to experience a flat tire? Tubeless is the way to go baby!

KanyonKris said...

Your diagnosis is correct: The rim strip had peeled back in one area exposing a few spoke holes. (I updated the post with this info.) I pulled the rim strip off and tried some tape, but it was too thick and a little too wide for that low-profile rim - it looked to my like the bead of the tire wouldn't be able to squeeze in there for a good lock.

Going tubeless was one my goals this year. Now that I have a good rear wheel I can run, I will make the XC-300 my tubeless wheel. I'm going to get with Mike and put the Stan's rim tape on it with a valve stem. I just need to select a good tire to run on the rear that can run tubeless (be it UST or not). Any suggestions?

Rick Sunderlage said...

Nice ride Kris. I'm anxious to try some of these trails instead of always climbing to the alter via a reverse Frank and the over to dry (which aint too bad).

Oh, and I'm going to try some of those whole wheat fig newtons.