The third leg of the RCP Charter Cycle took RCP registrar Dr Andrew Goddard from Bedford Hospital to our regional update event in Cambridgeshire, seeing him ride through the east of England countryside and take a short detour along the A1.
Given I had to be at the Eastern region's update at the Wellcome Genome Campus just south of Cambridge I used the opportunity to take some miles off my train journey from Derby and do some miles for the 2018 ride. The plan was to take the charter to Bedford hospital for signing first but that meant getting my bike and me on a train. I suspect this will be another recurring theme in this blog but how hard can train companies make it?
Firstly you have to figure out which carriage the bike storage is in. This is difficult when there is no-one on the platform to tell you but given it is at one end of the train you take a 50:50 punt. Just call me Mr Lucky. Secondly you have to hope you make it to the other end of the train before it pulls off and get your bike and you onto the train. Thirdly you swear internally when both of the slots for bikes are filled (despite dutifully reserving it as demanded by the train company). Lastly you have to use all your negotiating skills to convince the train manager that it is ok for you to stand with your bike for the journey. And that was just for the 20 minutes to Leicester where I changed onto the Bedford train. And then do it all again…
Eventually I got to Bedford Hospital and was greeted by the RCP team and a very welcome cup of coffee and soon people appeared to sign the charter. Thank you to Shwe, the college tutor and Rosa the medical education manager for spreading the word. Shwe gets a special mention as she came in on her day off! This included a couple of PACES examiners I knew of by reputation (much better dressed than me) and some old friends I hadn’t seen for many a year. It was great to catch up but time was pressing so I headed out (slightly anxious that my bike would still be there after one consultant had raised his eyebrows when I told him where I had parked it).
The route through Bedfordshire was relatively flat and the countryside beautiful. I passed the two large air hangars at Cardington and cycled through a picture-postcard village called Old Warden. I made my way towards Biggleswade and then made my only major error of the leg. When plotting the route I had thought it was okay to go for a couple of miles on the A1. Now, I’ve driven on that stretch of the A1 many a time so why I thought this was a good idea defeats me. Needless to say my average speed was the fastest of the 2018 ride so far. I must also say, though, that when a mulch lorry from Madingley decided to honk his horn as he went by I wasn’t impressed. Both he and I didn’t want me there but adding to the angst with sound effects didn’t help anybody.
Having lived in South Cambridge for 5 years as a clinical student and junior doctor a quarter of a century ago I vaguely recognised lots of the scenery and even saw the house where I first met my future in-laws.
Off the A1 just south of Biggleswade I headed into Cambridgeshire. Having lived in South Cambridge for 5 years as a clinical student and junior doctor a quarter of a century ago I vaguely recognised lots of the scenery and even saw the house where I first met my future in-laws. I managed to cycle over the M11 rather than going on it (I learn quickly) and then arrived at the conference venue just before lunch.
The Wellcome Genome Campus is very impressive. Based at Hinxton Hall it blends the old and the new architecture-wise and made a very good conference venue. When I arrived I was offered a shower and quickly took it. This made me better-smelling for the delegates but did take away some of the authenticity of a demanding ride. I should warn people that in the future I may keep the ‘fresh from the road’ look for longer and for the signing. I managed to get in some CPD in the afternoon and get a hundred or so signatures on the charter so the leg was well worth the effort. I also caught up with Dr Gervase Kerrigan who first got me into gastroenterology in Bury St Edmunds all those years ago. Seventy-eight and still doing clinics – he remains an amazing inspiration.
The South West peninsula is next. I suspect it will be a little more hilly.
Would you like to ride with Dr Goddard on an upcoming leg of the RCP Charter Cycle? Please register your details and stay updated about where the route is heading next.
To catch up with what has already happened during the RCP Charter Cycle, read Dr Goddard's blog about the first two legs of the ride. You can also find photos and updates on Twitter by searching for #RCPCharterCycle and #2018for2018.