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August 30, 2009

North Vancouver—Mt. Fromme (Ride 24)

Filed under: BC 2009, MTB Travel — anotherheader @ 6:09 am

Seventh Secret, Leppard, Krickum Krankum, Kirkford, Griffin

Knobs rolls down Seventh Secret

Knobs rolls down Seventh Secret

We took a day off to transfer the trailers to Vancouver.  This was our second stop in the greater Vancouver area on our BC adventure.  You might be wondering why we needed a second stop in Vancouver.  The truth is, for me, the riding in North Van is very intense and a long stay can quickly become overwhelming.  Knobs politely acquiesced to two stops.

One member of our party was visibly disappointed with the return to Vancouver.  Nick told us that Surrey was not on HIS list of places to visit.  He wanted to go back to Whistler.  There are more bears in Whistler.

On the day after our move, we headed out to Mt. Fromme.  Parking on Mountain Highway, we climbed up the long road that turns from pavement to dirt.  An hour later we were at the top of Seventh Secret.  Along the way we came across another rider.  After talking a bit, the rider volunteered to demonstrate the stump roll at the top of Upper Oil Can for us.  On our first stop at Mt. Fromme, we looked at this one for quite some time.  It was big and very steep.  But the rider we met cleared the stump with air making it look casual.  We might be able to roll this drop, but we’ve got a long way to go before we can make it look casual.

A guest rider making the stump drop on Upper Oil Can look easy

A guest rider making the stump drop on Upper Oil Can look easy

Last year, Seventh Secret was wet when we went down it.  This year it was dry, making the trail significantly easier, though the wet vs. dry difficulty gap on Seventh is much smaller than it is on CBC.  Still, this advanced rated trail is a handful.  Seventh Secret is gradually sloped, but highly technical with many tight and rocky turn drops.  The tread is chock full of rounded rocks, many installed to armor the tread.  We did much better this year than last, but with the restricted turning radius from my triple clamp fork, the tightest of turns were still beyond my skill set.

When we finished Seventh Secret and started down Leppard, the adrenaline was pumping.  Seventh Secret does not have a great deal of exposure but it was tricky technical.  It would be very easy to lose balance and fall and, if you fall, you are going to land on rock.  With the dry conditions the next trail, the blue square intermediate Leppard, was a welcome break from the intensity of Seventh Secret.  Leppard is a mostly level trail that parallels a leg of the Mountain Highway climb.  The trail has a series of testing low, narrow ladders and plank rides together with some problematic rock and root sections.  There is one unforgettable feature on this trail.  Midway down, Leppard runs the length of an inverted cast iron bathtub.  The tub is reach after the tread winds through the trees and passes through a gap cut in a downed tree.  Immediately on the other side of this gap is the bathtub.  You ride along the length of the tub and roll down the rounded, inclined end.  It’s pretty easy when the conditions are dry.  When it is wet, the metal is super slick and you better be lined up perfectly straight.  This time it was dry.  Both Knobs and I did not bypass on our domestic duties.  We cleaned the bathtub.

Seventh Secret

Seventh Secret

At the end of Leppard, you can exit to the service road or continue onto Krickum Krankum.*  On our previous trips, Krickum Krankum had been closed due to a major washout.  This time, it was open, and we headed in.  The first part of Krickum Krankum was pretty standard North Shore, steep, rooty and rocky.  Before long, the trail starts losing much of its altitude in a linked series of steep ladders.  The ladders are just wide enough to encourage you to ride onto them but when you can no longer easily exit, more than narrow and steep enough to make you wonder why you were so foolish to try.  There’s just enough of a break in between the ladders to let you forget the terror of the prior build-up before you roll onto the next ladder drop.

Knobs cleans the bathtub on Leppard

Knobs cleans the bathtub on Leppard

I’m not exactly sure where Krickum Krankum ended and Kirkford continued.  Perhaps this was at the new bridge over the big washout.  In any event, it doesn’t matter; the sequence of trails from Leppard to Krickum Krankum to Kirkford to The Cedar Trail to Upper Griffin to Lower Griffin was constantly exciting.  Linked together this provides an unbroken series of creative, high intensity singletrack trails from the entrance of Seventh Secret to the exit on McNair Street.

At the bottom of the dirt trail, we exited right in the neighborhood.  With a short pedal on McNair Street, we were back at the truck on Mountain Highway.  The ride took us about four hours to complete–an hour to climb to the top and three hours to descend.

Knobs rolling a drop built from a curved tree limb on Krinkum Krankum

Knobs rolling a drop built from a curved tree limb on Krinkum Krankum

Towards the bottom of the ride, Knobs sprained a finger on an unscheduled off.  Despite my advice that holding onto the handlebars really was not necessary in the North Shore, this injury would impact his riding for the next few days.  His injury put a damper on what was a great ride on what goes as a must do route.

*  The “Fromme North Shore Trail Guide, Version 09”  shows the trail sequence, Leppard to Krickum Krankum to Kirkford.  Older maps on the web (NSMBA 2003) show this sequence as Leppard to Kirkford to Crinkum Crankum.  I seem to recall a trail sign saying Krickum Krankum at the end of Leppard.


Last year’s ride:

A wide, steep drop on Krinkum Krankum

A wide, steep drop on Krickum Krankum

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