Some people go on holiday to rest, catch some rays and enjoy some cocktails.
Others, like Kilphedar’s superstar cyclist Kerry MacPhee don’t.
They travel with barely any clothes in their suitcase so they can bring their race bike and not fall foul of the airline’s weight allowances and instead of collection tan lines and beers, Kerry collected four podium places from four races and fielded offers of sponsorship to race down under from two bicycle shops.
Kerry MacPhee is a winner and as the first, and to date only, athlete from the Hebrides to ever pull on a Scotland kit and represent our country at the Commonwealth Games she has proven time and time again she is undoubtedly the finest cyclist ever from these shores.
She turned a trip to Australia to visit her brother to a remarkable training camp with a quarter of four podiums – including one in a discipline she doesn’t even race – to remind us all of the kind of sporting brilliance she’s capable of.
“I went Down Under to spend some time with my brother and it was wonderful, the best thing I could have done for a wee recharge. I raced, trained well and it was just brilliant,” she told the Gazette this week.
“I took my own bike with me on the plane. The Emirates weight limit is 30kg so I managed to get my bike and I barely took any clothes.
“I thought my bike is something I really need and it really helps me when I’m not feeling good and I knew with the weather in Australia it could be great and I’m now so glad I took it. I was only going to do one race and I ended up doing four.
“I won three of the four races and placed second in one but that one I hired an enduro bike as it was an enduro race which is not the discipline I really race so I was delighted to get on the podium.”
But it’s not just her ability on two-wheels which sets her apart, as very few can match the levels of work ethic and sheer decency that have become as much her trademark, as has her awesome athleticism.
This didn’t go unnoticed as she was approached on two occasions with offers of sponsorship if she chose to relocate from Scotland.
“Rock and Road closed last year and since then I’ve been without a bike sponsor,” she explained. “It is quite difficult without one but in Australia I had two bike shops approach me and make me offers to help me if I was prepared to move to Australia.
“It was crazy and here in Scotland I’m not getting any offers – it was totally crazy. It is quite tempting but I’ll see how this year goes here.”
Having won national titles, countless medals – including four gold medals at the NatWest Island Games for the Western Isles – and raced for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games, what keeps Kerry on the winning side is application, dedication and good old-fashioned bloody-mindedness.
This was never more evident than as she recalled her second placed finish at the weekend’s British National Cross Country Series. Ignoring pain and a stream of blood flowing down her body she picked up another podium before seeking medical treatment.
“I decked it on the forth lap and took a massive chunk out of both my arm and my leg,” she recalled. “It was so painful and I couldn’t bring myself to look at it. I was in second place and I had a good gap when it happened and I could see blood dripping down my arm and off my fingertips.
“So I raced the last half an hour, got off my bike and crossed the finish line in second and went straight to the paramedics tent. They patched me up and I saw this massive gash in my arm and leg. I had to go to A&E where I was for five hours where I needed stitches in both.”
She continued: “I’m still a wee bit fatigued from Australia as I did quite a lot of long races so I was trying to push it on the technical sections and I wiped out trying to take a corner too hot.
“The bike went and I went down like a sack of potatoes so fast. I was really pleased I kept my head down, sucked it up and got to the end.”
The rest of the year is already packed with challenges for Kerry who has set herself lofty targets but with her famous desire and lung-bursting hard graft she possesses in spades I wouldn’t bet against her ticking them all off.
She added: “Normally by now I’d have done some racing in Spain by now but this year it hasn’t been easy to arrange everything and my priority is the World Cup races as they are also Commonwealth Games qualifiers.
“I really want to find a way to go to the World Cup races so I delayed my start to the season and it’s only now really getting going.”