Typical mountain bikes these days have morphed into something very different than what most folks rode 15 years ago. Now they're built primarily for going fast downhill, and jumping off of things. That's great fun -- highly evolved for some applications -- but these bikes don't do their riders many favors when pointed uphill or when carving smooth flat turns. Since my favorite trail rides contain quite a bit of that, my favorite bike is built to capitalize on it: a lightweight steel bike with no suspension other than a pair of fat tires, a noticeably supple steel fork, and a couple knee and elbow joints. Maximized for climbing and twisting on Pikes Peak granite singletrack.

Life is full of trade-offs. The singlespeed trend has given a lot of new riders a taste of the advantages and disadvantages of riding on a rigid fork. Unfortunately the new examples of rigid forks tend to be unnecessarily stiff and heavy, and cheat their users out of the sort of incomparable trail feel that Ritchey perfected in the '90s.

RR snapped this shot on Monday before the skies went ugly.