By Hebridean mountain biker (and British Mountain Bike Marathon Champion) Kerry MacPhee. Kerry is sponsored by Loch Duart

 Hebridean mountain biker (and British Mountain Bike Marathon Champion) Kerry MacPhee is sponsored by Loch Duart

I snuck off to Portugal on my own last weekend to do a Category 1 race and I’m delighted to report that the gamble paid off and I got a ‘podium finish’! Rather than dwell on my less than ideal last few races, I’ve got my head down, beavered away at my training and thankfully I’m starting to feel a lot better on the bike. I wanted to come out with no pressure and just enjoy the process and try and bag some points and, fortunately, Lady Luck was my friend.

My usual trusted race support team were otherwise engaged this weekend hence I was here on my own. It’s less than ideal but I quite like the adventure, even though my bike came a day later than I did. The organisers were very helpful at finding someone to do my bottles for me and recommending a hotel so that was good.

The race itself was bloody brutal (my mum hates me using that word, haha). It was steep, twisty, relentless and boiling hot! For the first time in a race, I didn’t even try one of the A lines which was a 6ft drop onto a downslope as I’d watched a guy get stretchered off in a neck brace during my first practice lap. I didn’t really fancy the potential for a mishap being here on my own so I took the safe option. I moved up to 4th within half a lap and stayed there for most of the race. On the last lap I felt I still had some beans left and really pushed and couldn’t believe it when I caught sight of 3rd! I caught her with 800m to go and absolutely buried myself on the last climb to get on that podium! Such a good feeling when you can really commit and dig deep.

I still don’t feel 100% fit but I felt I raced smartly. My fitness is definitely coming back though and I was able to get my HR pretty high too which I haven’t been able to in my last few races so the signs are looking good.

I also had my first ever anti doping today- cannae believe I’ve never had to do it until now and, it’s hard. It took nearly 2 hours to get 2 samples as I was so dehydrated from the heat! The nice thing about anti doping was meeting the other girls and having a blether with them, so that was a positive.

I’m definitely going to pencil this race into my diary next year. Now it’s time to enjoy some Portuguese food for dinner rather than the usual pre-race safe option. I’m not looking forward to the 3 flights I have to take to get home, what a palaver.

Big thanks to my team Rock and Road and sponsor, Loch Duart – also my work, Alzheimer Scotland, for not being too annoyed at me for being a day late getting back….

Congratulations Kerry!! We’re proud to sponsor you!

www.facebook.com/Kerrymacpheecyclist

9th October 2015