Only eight riders at Bear Cross, despite the blue December sky: it’s only going to get worse. A broken mudguard reduced our number by one as we headed out to Canford Bottom and Holt. Across to Higher Row, Mannington and Three Legged Cross, the roads were damp & greasy, this year’s gatorskins do not inspire confidence. Horton, Woodlands, Cranborne and the edge of Damerham, conversation is brisk, as is the pace, the long rise out of Rockbourne up to the A354 tempers both, before the scream down to Coombe Bisset. Into the wind through the Ebble valley, the road gets muckier as the miles stack up. Nearly at Shaftesbury but not quite, we turn to Cann Common and Zig-Zag Hill, someone always wants to stretch their legs and today is no different, we each reach the top on our own. Fast now, down to Farnham and the main road again, over to the Horton Inn and Chalbury common, the chatter has dried up, replaced with concentration. Base work, level one, getting the miles in! Call it what you will, despite falling in and out of favour with coaches & trainers, winter miles are still the building blocks of any successful racing season. Never enough on their own, never the complete answer, the fact remains, those with miles in the legs ride better than those who talk about it! Pig Oak, Furzehill, Colehill, we are looking at 80 plus miles as we start to separate. It’s all about training of course but there is something more, its therapy, not all of us knows it but we all GET it in the end. Workaday problems, insurmountable mid- week, are put into true perspective come Sunday afternoon. It’s not about cyclists, it’s not about motorists, it’s about people, too hastily, do we fit into our “boxes”, 4hours 30 minutes in the saddle makes us reasonable sometimes.. The cup of tea, the slice of something sweet, the hot bath, the cold beer is ours whenever we want but never so welcome as when well earn’t, it’s not about the bike it’s because of the bike!