For the seventh time on Wednesday morning, the buzzer went. I took a deep, calming breath, straightened my stethoscope and walked around the partition to assess the patient’s suitability for a hip replacement. Eight minutes of sensible questioning, gentle reassurance and explanation to the examiner later, and I was done. I practically skipped out of the exam room, this moment marking the end of five years of medical school, and immediately set off home, my brain buzzing with excitement at new found freedom.
I headed to the obligatory Medsoc BBQ to celebrate with fellow fifth years, and necked shots, relaxed in the sunshine and laughed about some of the more ridiculous parts of our exams. But it seemed only right to see out exam season with the people who supported me most through it, so with my two gorgeous housemates and James, I headed out for beer and burgers and relaxing. Nothing hits the spot better than a mac ‘n’ cheese burger sometimes.
By 9:30pm I was at home, exhausted and ready for nothing more than a huge sleep after the stress of exams, so I awoke on Thursday morning fresh and ready to enjoy my freedom. I loaded up my jersey pockets with a few snacks, loaded a route I’d planned on Strava onto James’s Garmin to follow, and headed off towards York. I picked a mostly rural, very pretty route, and rode between fields of bright yellow oil seed rape and past spring lambs. I rode alone, and relished the peace and freedom, the wind in my hair (and my face. for 30 miles.) and eventually, after navigating York’s well-laid out bike lanes, I arrived at Your Bike Shed for a coffee stop.
After rides for the past few weeks being a quick 20 miles here and there as a break from my desk, it was nice to linger over coffee and cake. No pressure to be home soon to revise, no guilt that I wasn’t working as hard as everybody else, just relaxation. When I fancied it, I set off back home, via Tadcaster and a brief diversion onto the A64 after a road closure. I returned home, 69 miles in the bag, and feeling a lot more confident on the bike- I’d cycled mostly on quiet roads, but I’d also negotiated motorway roundabouts, busy junctions and the centre of York. I’d also ridden further than I ever had before, at a decent speed for me (14.4mph), and I’d done it alone, not sat on somebody’s back wheel.
I’ve written a lot before about finding cycling difficult, and scary, but I’m now thinking it was only ever a case of getting the miles in. The photo above was taken on Monday, near the top of a Cat 4 climb on a social ride with a few friends from the cycling club. When they told me about the hill, I laughed and asked them to wait for me at the top, but bit by bit, I got my head down, and I made it. In the end, I was only a little bit off the wheel of Emma, one of the club’s stronger girls, and I was proud of myself. Those winter miles being dropped on social rides, and those vile turbo sessions, have all started to pay off. My long ride to York was hard work, but it was fun, and I enjoyed the feeling of being stronger than I used to be.
You can see my ride route and such here if you’re interested.