The sun was blazing down at full furious heat in the Turkish sky but Kerry MacPhee continued to crank through the gears using her infamous pedal power to pull away from much of the chasing pack and secure a hugely impressive third place at the Tashra Tour Cup.
As tradition dictates Kerry, the South Uist cycling superstar, gets stronger the longer a race goes, and powers up hill climbs faster than most can sledge down a slope.
But then from her blindside Kerry’s momentum was rocked when three large dogs leapt into her path and took a chunk out of her leg.
Shaken and understandably distressed she managed to pedal clear of the dogs as quickly as she could to finish the race before being taken to a local hospital for rabies and tetanus shots in an ambulance after the race.
By then Kerry had been confirmed on the podium in third place in the overall general classification after a sweat-soaked and gruelling three days in the saddle in Antalya, Turkey.
“The misadventures of a bike racer took a scary turn today and I was attacked by three humongous dogs 25km from the finish – it was terrifying,” she admitted
“They were like bears and one took a bite out of my thigh. I thought if I stop these things are going to shred me to pieces so I peddled so hard I blew my doors on a downhill.
“I’ve learned to take it all in my stride now but it’s crazy some times.
“I was petrified and my leg is a bit of a mess with a large puncture in my quad and teeth marks and a bruise. They were Kangal dogs which Turkish farmers use. They are very territorial and I had pedalled through a herd of goats but then further on these three dogs appeared on their own. They were really big and it was scary. They started to chase me but I have never pedalled so hard in my life.
“It was pretty nasty and I was whisked off to hospital in an ambulance after finishing and got cleaned up and given rabies and tetanus jags.
“They kept asking if they could have my passport but I’m lying there with nothing but a helmet, a scabby pair of gloves and pockets full of tools and empty gel wrappers.
“Once finished they were asking if someone was picking me up, to which I again stare at my helmet and at them as I had just finished a race and I had nothing!
“At this point I was thinking how on earth do I get back to Okurcalar around 35km away without any money or a phone when two other racers appeared who’d also been bitten by dogs.
“As I’d taken the ambulance, they were given a lift which sorted out my transport issue.”
The dog attacks are just the latest in a number of race mishaps which have plagued Kerry in recent weeks with lost luggage and having her bike lost in transit by an airline also throwing a spanner in the works for her.
But on two wheels she has been difficult to stop. Her form is impressive, her times are tumbling and her power is remarkable on race day.
Turkey was no different as she defied the blistering heat and long journey across Europe to land an overall third place on the overall podium after a series of superb rides.
“Stage one hurt,” revealed Kerry: “It was a time trial lap of the cross country course which is super twisty turny, muddy and awkward.
“It is not my favourite type of course which is brilliant actually as it is great training.
“I thought stage one hurt because it was full gas and I’ve not done any speed work yet but actually stage two point to point today made me realise I’m not quite recovered from the last two stage races.”
She went on: “I felt very flat, lacked power on the climbs and I was clinging on to third, riding the descents wildly and desperately to make up for losing time on climbs and managed to get a slow puncture 5km from the end.
“I could hear it trying to seal itself until it gave up with 3 km to go and just wouldn’t seal with gas so it was a bummer of a roll to the finish.”
Her misadventures earned her a seventh place finish on stage two but like a motorised moth to the podium flame she was back amongst the frontrunners in stage three.
“Stage three was an cross country race and I went a lot better than I expected though still feeling under-recovered and flat but I’m dead happy with how I raced,” she continued.
“It is pretty sadistic though putting an XC stage before the marathon on the last day and I knew that was going to hurt.”
Again Kerry impressed to take third place in the marathon section of stage three which also secured the bronze position in general classification overall – a tremendous result for the effort of travelling to the end of Europe.
“I was super chuffed to take third,” she said.
“I was really happy as I felt so awful on stage two but on reflection I think I just hadn’t eaten enough. There was less than 30 seconds to Irina Popova in first on stage three as I spent the race yo-yoing off the two lead girls but somehow I’d keep going and catch them again.”
She added: “Turkey was an adventure for sure. Podiums are such a cool bonus and I’m cheesing to have finished Tashra Tour third overall even if a bit more bloodied and bruised than before I started.
“It was a gamble coming to race a stage race self-supported but people are kind and will help (usually) if you ask.
“I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on life and though I’m avoiding reality through bike racing, I think that’s ok.”