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