Heaven and hell for MacPhee girls at Cannock Chase

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Super siblings Kerry and Kirsty MacPhee were in competitive action at the weekend as the pair took part in the British Mountain Bike series with both girls having vastly different results.

Series leader Kerry was forced to retire inside the opening lap, and with it give up her chance to win the overall series, due to debilitating hayfever and asthma issues.

But in the expert category Kirsty brought the curtain down on her first season with a race victory and overall third place.

Kerry also took third place overall in the professional category but having led the series going into the final race she was hugely disappointed to have to withdraw and give up her chance to steer to series glory.

Speaking to the Gazette Kerry said: “I suffer from very bad hayfever and asthma and this season has been the worst ever for it and it’s never affected me before to the extent where I’ve had to withdraw from a race.

“I have been taking stuff for it but there are a number of medicines I’m unable to take because of ingredients on the banned list so I have to be careful.

“It is hard to explain what it is like to someone who doesn’t suffer from it but I’d liken it to trying to suck air through a straw. The race at the weekend took place in a pine forest and I simply couldn’t race or couldn’t even breathe.

“It was the worst it’s ever been and I felt like I was on the verge of an asthma attack from the get-go. It was rubbish and I need to find a way to combat it.

“It was really disappointing as I was leading the series and my legs felt really strong.

“Maybe I could have tried to finish the race and place poorly in 10th or somethiung but then it would take me days to recover which is no use when I have to prepare to travel to Italy to race in the World Cup this week.

“I never retire from a race unless there is a very good reason for it. Even earlier this season I came off my bike in the first lap but I got back onto it and worked my way back through the field.

“But while it wasn’t great for me, Kirsty did amazingly well and I’m so proud of her.”

Younger sister Kirsty has left her tyre tracks all over the expert field in her maiden campaign on two wheels.

In the final race of the series Kirsty pedalled onto the podium and secured overall third place with a winning final race in which she beating series winner Helen Wainwright (Ride DMC) into second after a hard three laps.

“You have no idea just how happy I am,” enthused Kirsty.

“I knew I had it in me but to go and actually do it is another thing, I’m just buzzing.

“I was third in the series but I wasn’t too fussed to be honest. To win the series they take your points from four of the five races but I only scored points in three races when the girl who won the series, and I beat both in this race and every race I competed in, took part in all of them.

“Winning it wasn’t the aim this year anyway, competing was and taking part in the Scottish Series. I think I ended up racing in the British by accident almost as I was taking Kerry down to compete and I decided I may as well enter myself.”

Reflecting on the race Kirsty laughs as she readily admits she was huffing and puffing inside the opening lap.

“Because all the stuff at home for the past week has been endurance style riding I haven’t done any high-end training so for the first lap I was blowing hard,” she confessed.

“The race had a lot of changes at the front with me leading at first before I crashed and then the girl who passed me crashed and I got in front again.

“Another girl got in front and I let her through a bit before I attacked her at the top of a climb before getting away from her in the third lap.

“I finished with a 55-second gap which is incredible considering I had been wheel to wheel with her for two and a half laps but I had recovered well while sitting behind her.

“On the last half a lap my quads cramped up which meant climbs were sore I managed to keep a steady pace so I’m really chuffed to win.”

Both the elite and professional races set off simultaneously so Kirsty had no idea what forced Kerry out of her own race inside the opening lap which she admits caused her concern.

“When I heard on the tannoy ‘Macphee has had to withdraw’ it hit me as it’s my sister and I didn’t know if I should come off too to make sure she is ok,” said Kirsty.

“ At the point I obviously didn’t know if it was a crash and if she was hurt.

“It was at the end I found out why but she has bad asthma, hay fever and is coming off a lingering cold which is the three worst things to suffer with when pushing yourself so much.

“It was probably a wise decision she made to withdraw with the World Cup this week and maybe she appreciates she has been overdoing it a little with training and competing lately.

“I’m thrilled and my results have gone 5, 4, 3, 2, and now 1 which shows the training is working.

‘‘I’m now really looking forward to winter training and a whole winter working hard on the bike as I’ve never done that before.”