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