“I have learned that I bloody love a challenge,” beamed star cyclist Kerry Macphee after making her World Cup season debut.
“I learned that mentally I can cope well when things aren’t quite going how I would like them to and most of all I learned that I love to mountain bike
“I learned heaps about racing, how to start well, the nuances of the racers, about the need to control my nerves better and I learned I need to come out to a World cup more than two days before to give myself time to recce properly and
Speaking after returning to Scottish soil from her World Cup adventure in Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic Kerry explained the experience had been an eye-opener and lesson
It is easy to forget it is just two years since Kerry took on her first competitve mountain bike race.
The past 24-months have seen her pedal up the rankings, pikcing up titles along the way including a highly coveted British Title Race Vest last month while she was also selected for Scotland’s Commonwealth Games squad in 2014.
It has been a rapid and remarkable rise through the ranks for the 28-year-old from South Uist who has crammed British Title joy and starring in the Commonwealth Games into a little over 24-months of competitve riding.
This week Kerry was packing her passport and bike again as she raced in the opening round of the new World Cup season in the Czech Republic.
Starting 69th on a grid of 83 world class level riders Kerry proved she belongs with the best with another impressive race despite feeling she made some ‘rookie mistakes.’
“I really need to emphasise experience, as that is exactly what I came out here to gain and that is exactly what I did,” she explained. I have learned heaps in the last three days and process wise, this has been incredible!
“The course was ace, bloody hard going and it had rained overnight so it felt super sluggish but really cool. I knew the start was going to be critical.
“However, I had a bit of a booboo, slipped my pedal when clipping in and was dead last coming out of the arena - whoops! I did not expect to be in that position and really underestimated how difficult it would be to move up, but it’s 80 more girls just like me, hungry to progress, improve and conquer themselves, so of course it would be hard.
“This is world class level competitors and lots of them - scary! So moving up was hard as the first lap has a lot of riders coming off bikes and not getting through technical features which means if you’re at the back you’re off your bike too, you really lose minutes at the start because of this, but I knew this would happen so I had to be OK with it.”
Nerves are a natural reflex to competing in top level sport but Kerry believes she has to manage her own pre-race nerves better to prevent anxiety affecting her results.
Her worries caused a spate of sleepless nights in the build-up to the race but she insists she is learning with every new challenge.
“I felt pretty blinking rough as I’ve been so nervous about this I barely slept and I’m pretty sure I wasted way to0 much energy the last few days rather than save it for the race, which is a rookie mistake I know, but I’m always learning.
“So it really felt hard today. I had one bad crash through the rock garden and got my foot stuck in a crack and couldn’t get it out - disaster!
“It’s now throbbing painfully which tells me I really was running on pure adrenaline today! I was so worked up in the race too, I literally could not remember how to engage my suspension by pressing the button or releasing it, resulting in a few juttery moments.
“That has never happened but it is another lesson for me in finding a way to control my nerves. So for fear of painting a negative picture of my race, it was anything but and I learned so much.”
Each month seems to bring new challenges, goals and milestones for the Hebridean heroine who will once again be racing under the flag of the Western Isles in this summer’s NatWest Island Games.
Reflecting on how far she has come in such a short period of time, Kerry reckons the evolution and improvement of her results shows her impressive World Cup debut is only the beginning as she looks to steer onto podiums on a global scale.
“When I first started racing the British series I barely scraped into the top 10 and it always felt hard but gradually I learnt how to race and I have progressed so now I podium more often than not,” she explained. I’m confident that with more World Cup experience, the same thing will happen and gradually I will start moving up the ranks too. It takes time, patience amd practice.”
Kerry would like to thank her sponsors for their invaluable assistance, particularly Kenny from Rock and Road who was in the Czech Republic supporting Kerry on the race.
She added: “We have come a long way as a team and I’m proud to say that we probably were the smallest team here today but what we lacked in size we more than made up for in enthusiasm, excitement and our love of cycling.”