Rider’s ride

Moots Vamoots RSL, £3,995 frame & fork, ap­prox £8,000 as tested

Cyclist - - Wiltshire -

Zig Zag Hill is about 1,600m be­low Alpe d’huez, but it’s still a favourite test­ing ground for Strava bag­gers

Ti­ta­nium’s rep­u­ta­tion for iron­ing out road buzz is cer­tainly ev­i­dent in the Vamoots RSL, es­pe­cially with the in­clu­sion of Moots’ own curved ti­ta­nium seat­post, which dis­si­pates shocks be­fore they reach your back­side. That was ap­pre­ci­ated along the of­ten bumpy lanes on this route. At the same time the frame han­dled with the pre­ci­sion and so­lid­ity of a far stiffer bike. It’s a tough bal­ance to strike but Moots has suc­ceeded, al­though I sus­pect some of the credit should go to the Cam­pag­nolo Bora Ul­tra wheels. Cam­pag­nolo’s Cho­rus EPS groupset was sharp and al­though the er­gonomics of the lever hoods are not en­tirely to my lik­ing (I pre­fer the smaller shapes used by Shi­mano or Sram) the Vamoots RSL never missed a beat all day.

hour since I drained a four-per­son cafetière sin­gle-hand­edly at break­fast, but I still can’t re­sist the al­lure of a fresh flat white – or the cakes that al­low me to stock up on calo­ries.

As we re­mount and pedal off in the di­rec­tion of War­dour Cas­tle, I can only agree with David that Beatons Tea Room was in­deed worth the halt, al­though as penance I have to carry a pair of heavy legs up the next climb. I just have to hope that David doesn’t want us to sam­ple all his favourite cafes in the re­gion, oth­er­wise it will be dark by the time we get back to base.

We con­tinue south, head­ing to Shaftes­bury via the Don­head val­ley. With traf­fic prac­ti­cally non-ex­is­tent we be­come com­pla­cent, rid­ing along three-abreast. We’re given a wake-up call when we round a bend at speed to be con­fronted by a large trac­tor tow­ing an even big­ger trailer, tak­ing up the en­tire road. There’s a yelp and a squeal of brakes, but we avoid be­ing minced into an­i­mal feed and, with a good-na­tured tip of his flat cap, the farmer steers his trac­tor into the hedgerow to give us some room.

By now we’re at the south­ern­most tip of Wilt­shire, where it meets Dorset, and we en­counter a sub­stan­tial ridge­way that crosses the county west to east. It’s gen­tly rounded at the top but at times its flanks are steeply pitched – some­thing we come to dis­cover only too well as our route takes us up and down its slopes more than a few times over the next 20km.

As we reach the out­skirts of Shaftes­bury, a town fa­mous for Gold Hill, a very steep cob­bled street used in the fa­bled Ho­vis TV ad­vert, we make a left and onto a road equally well known to cy­clists in this area. The aptly named Zig Zag Hill is the re­gion’s an­swer to Alpe d’huez, with a suc­ces­sion of hair­pin bends and ramps of up to 9.5%. At a max­i­mum height of 277m above sea level, Zig Zag Hill is sadly about 1,600m be­low the alti­tude of Alpe d’huez and the climb is a good 12km shorter as well, but it’s still a favourite test­ing ground for lo­cal rid­ers and Strava bag­gers.

Our flurry of climb­ing ex­cite­ment is over in no time at all, and once again the road

Left: The road out of the Lon­gleat Es­tate is flat, but short, sharp climbs aren’t far away

Bot­tom: Tim­ing is ev­ery­thing when it comes to stop­ping for a pot of tea

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