As usual, there were not any other trail users on Farlow. The trail's such a Pisgah classic, but it gets talked about way more than it gets ridden. Admittedly there are two or three sections of trail near the top where crashing would really suck, and yes, it's a bit of hassle to get to the top of 229, but really, considering how much people talk about the trail I'm always surprised no one's on it.
Farlow was stellar today and it was fun to ride it with a first-timer. I rode this trail on my first time riding in Pisgah, and maybe it was there that I started thinking about moving to Asheville. Maybe. Maybe I'd been heading here for even longer than that.
I was on my new Kish titanium 29er hardtail. He has near-legendary reputation among West Coast framebuilders, has been at it for two decades, though he is not as known on the East Coast. He is a master for sure. I love his aesthetic: very clean lines, functional design, minimum silliness. Beauty through function. Something about the look of the Kish bikes I'd seen really struck a chord in me, and isn't that what a bike should do?
Anyway, I never thought I was a custom-frame type of person because I thought the custom world was just for the odd-sized and the big spenders. But turned out this was a great way to get my needs met on geometry and other features (Paragon sliders and third set of bottle cage bosses). Also, it is titanium. Jim Kish was super easy to deal with: straightforward, honest, accessible, and friendly. He built me the frame I'd been looking for.
This bike vibrates with energy when it is just leaning against the wall. This bike rides like it knows where to go.
Yeah, I should take some photos of the Kish in decent light. And maybe with a camera other than the one on my phone. Also a close up or two where you can really see the craftsmanship on this frame. Stay tuned.*This new frame had been on the horizon for a while. I built it up with mainly the parts that had been on the SIR9, so there's not a whole lot new to say about the build. I did have to pony up for a new Thomson seatpost to get the diameter and length I needed but most everything else is tried and true. Thanks to George at Bike29 for killer handbuilt wheels (both my 29er wheelsets are Industry Nine j-bend classic hubs, and Stan's rims, fantastic combo). George was also the source for the RockShox Reba XX fork.** I'm also still using the same Hive Fifteen.G crankset which continues to look great, not fall off, and be light and awesome; the pink Hope brakes; XO drivetrain; and Ergon GX1s on an FSA flat carbon bar. And I am using the red Cane Creek 110 headset I used to have on the Epic. That shiny red ano sure looks great against the matte gray titanium. Also, that headset still has 108 years left on its warranty!
The SIR9 is now the rigid singlespeed it was always meant to be, with brakes and other parts stripped off my old Epic to round out the build. It is still named Songline. The new bike has not earned a name yet.
*I took this photo on a late afternoon ride a couple days ago. I am kind of addicted to this route right now: park at Hardtimes then go Homestead-Pinetree-Explorer-479-5000-Spencer Branch-Trace Ridge-5000-479-Lower Sidehill, because going up and over Bent Creek Gap so often is helping me get my fitness back after the pneumonia.
** Back when I got this Reba XX fork midsummer, a lot of stuff was going on and I don't think I got a chance to point out that getting that fork fulfilled a long held dream. Way back when I started riding mountain bikes in 1992, those first RockShox had recently come out. I thought those bright yellow forks were incredible and was super jealous of my one friend who had one. But I also thought $220 was way too much money to pay for a suspension fork, especially since using one kind of seemed like cheating. Also, they were yellow, and my bike (a Gary Fisher Hookoo) was purple, and that was just too clashy for me. So I never got one, and just rode on a steel fork for all my formative mtb years. Still, they were SO COOL. Now, just 18 years after my original crush, I finally own a RockShox fork. Thankfully, they are no longer bright yellow.