The Echelon was a great travel com­pan­ion, tak­ing ev­ery­thing we threw at it

Cycling Plus - - BIKE TEST -

swal­lows ev­ery­thing you throw at it. The ti­ta­nium frame and car­bon seat­post of­fer a sharp but very com­posed ride, and they’re helped by Con­ti­nen­tal’s ex­cel­lent 28mm GP 4000 II tyres. You can ride them at a lower pres­sure and they purr along smoothly. With the grow­ing num­ber of grav­e­lad­ven­ture bikes maybe 28mm is the new 25.

Arun­del made a nat­u­ral point for a snack. It’s a posh lit­tle town of art gal­leries, tourist traps and even an in­de­pen­dent book­shop. We found Pal­lant’s del­i­catessen for a ride­for­ti­fy­ing Cor­nish pasty – just don’t tell Cy­cling Plus’s nu­tri­tion­ist. Mill Road pro­vided a great view of the cas­tle, and closer views of swans, cygnets and sundry wa­ter fowl. They kept to the pave­ments, but looked like they would be happy strolling across the road. If they’d done so our bike’s Ul­te­gra brakes would have stopped us. Th­ese were as fault­less as the rest of the groupset, and while we didn’t have much need for the 32-tooth sprocket on this ride, it was both needed and ap­pre­ci­ated on our lo­cal Mendip hills.

Ditch­ing Ditch­ling

That bot­tom gear would have come in handy on the Ditch­ling Bea­con too, which was on our orig­i­nal route un­til we ran out of time. Ditch­ling does have a cou­ple of vine­yards in its im­me­di­ate en­vi­rons, and the nearby Plump­ton Col­lege of­fers train­ing for ca­reers in vini­cul­ture, which Si­mon is con­sid­er­ing when his bike test­ing days are be­hind him.

You have to be quite care­ful plan­ning a cy­cling-friendly route across the county as a lot of promis­ing-look­ing quiet roads come to nowt, so time was in­evitably spent on A-roads. Luck­ily you can get up a fair head of steam on the Enigma, its over­size head­tube help­ing with di­rect, ac­cu­rate changes of di­rec­tion. And we knew – or at least guessed – that our fi­nal des­ti­na­tion was close when we reached Wine­ham Lane.

The Bol­ney Wine Es­tate isn’t vis­i­ble from the road, but af­ter a short climb on a nar­row lane, crank­ing the Echelon up for one fi­nal puff-and-grunt ef­fort, a left turn takes you to the vine­yard, café and tast­ing room, which was catch­ing the last of the sun as we ar­rived.

Usu­ally, of course, we fin­ish with a cup of tea and a piece of cake. On this oc­ca­sion, the cake was present and cor­rect – lovely moist slice of lemon and po­lenta – but it was ac­com­pa­nied by a glass of Bol­ney Bub­bly, one of many in the East Sus­sex win­ery’s range. Tasted good to us too. Though sadly the bot­tle wouldn’t fit in the Enigma’s bot­tle cage, which was about its only fault.

The cake was present and cor­rect, ac­com­pa­nied by a glass of Bol­ney Bub­bly

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