The shortest day almost, yet still no gloves, 4 of us cross over the Avon Causeway and up to Ringwood. The market town is quiet for now and soon behind us as we head to Mockbeggar, Ibsley, across the A338, Harbridge Green and up Bleak Hill. The wind is blustery but on our backs and we are soon at Cranborne, the climb over Boveridge Down is hard enough and a sign of things to come. Tidpit and Martin offer brief respite before we tackle the slog that is Knowle hill. Half way up the stronger, impatient for the race season legs, have left me behind, the rendezvous at the bottom in Broadchalke never happened, dropped twice in two days,it was going to be a solo effort. Fifield Bavant, Ebbesborne Wake, Alvediston, Berwick St John, twisting up to Shaftesbury, this is a great road, the muddy, grippy surface, thankfully traffic free. Feeling good you can daydream, suffering, it can break your heart. Left before Ludwell, a headwind shatters any dreams I may have had and the rise up through Charlton to the A30 is a chore. Briefly on the main road, then down to Cann Common and East Melbury. The “Zig- Zag Hill" sign is no longer there, please put it back, it adds a touch of drama to this classic Dorset hill. The four switchbacks always catch you out, no matter how calculating your gear selection but it is through the trees where heroes emerge, with every metre gained in elevation the more you are in the wind, the view is grand but not if you are looking at the floor. The summit at Win Green would be one of the highest points in Dorset if it were not in Wiltshire; the sunshine is bright and welcome, almost warm in this mildest December on record. Fast down through Newtown & Farnham, across the A354 an unexpected tail/cross wind pushes me to the Horton Inn but the stiff headwind on the Wimborne road soon puts a stop to the fun. Through the underpass to avoid Canford Bottom and back to Parley. The wind sock at Hurn airport tells me it’s a tail wind, my legs tell me its not but it was that “good fatigue”. The rain is falling but I am already drinking tea, ignoring the “What happened to you messages"!