Blood, sweat and gears

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On June 29, 2015 Kirsty Macphee ‘suited up,’ fastened her helmet and rolled up to the start line of a competitive mountain bike race on the international stage.

For her it was not only her first international race but she could still count on one hand the amount of mountan bike races she had competed in – anywhere.

She had always been a keen rider, but always for leisure and recreation and she had never been a competitive rider.

But watching the startling progress made by big sister Kerry, who had blazed a trail into the world of professional riding and pedalled into the record books as the first ever athlete from the Western Isles to compete at the Commonwealth Games, had inspired her to dip her toe into the furious pace of a mountain biking.

As she zig-zagged her way through the pack to take her position Kirsty’s stomach lurched a full 360 degrees.

All the training she had taken on, all the advice her big sibling had given her, had gone out the window now as her legs began to wobble like jelly.

Kirsty began in the middle of the pack, two or three bikes back from the front, her mind racing and her heart thundering around her chest like a phone book in a tumble dryer.

Nervously fidgeting with her helmet strap and finding, then checking and triple-checking her gears, she waited for the signal to set off.

As the starter’s pistol cracked loudly into the crystal clear blue skies of Jersey the sea of metal around her set off, Kirsty quickly pushed off and so continued her fledging cycling career.

“I was really nervous in Jersey and I didn’t want to race at first incase I found it really difficult and wasn’t able to do it but Kerry geed me on,” recalled Kirsty with her trademark smile.

“I was very nervous on the start line but I hoped adrenaline would take me on but I wanted to show people I could ride a bike.”

It was only in February this year – a mere six-months ago – that all-rounder Kirsty switched her sporting focus to two wheels. It has been a decision which has reaped early rewards as she has already not just surpassed all her own expectations but smashed them into the dirt.

With just one season on the mud she recently secured a silver medal in the Scottish XC Mountain Bike Championships, just seven days after finishing at the top of the podium at a British Series race at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.

Also on the mantelpiece of her new home in Stirling are a quartet of international medals, two golds and two silvers, from July’s NatWest International Island Games.

It has been a sensational summer for the 26-year-old who is now daring to allow her mind to drift to 2016 and the possibilities of what may come with a full winter training on two-wheels.

And a possible step up from the expert field to the elite field where she would be racing against her big sister Kerry.

To read the rest of the feature interview pick up a copy of this week’s Stornoway Gazette - on sale now.