Women In Cycling – Kerry MacPhee

Introduce yourself (and your bikes…) Kerry MacPhee

Kerry MacPhee (Picture: BBC Sport)

I am Kerry MacPhee and I come from the Outer Hebrides. I am stirling-based cyclist and I race professionally.

I have got quite a few bikes in my life but pretty much none of them are mine and are mostly begged borrowed and stolen from Rock and Road Cycles- namely a Merida96 race mtb, a trek madone road bike and a Merida 140 Enduro bike. The only bike I own is a trek superfly FS race bike which was bought for me  for the Commonwealth Games by a building company in South Uist called MacInnes Brothers. It is a wee weapon but then all the bikes I rode are pretty cool.

I have never named my bikes, I have no idea why! I guess because I only own 1 outright and I don’t want to form too much of an emotional connection with them 🙂

What is your connection to the world of cycling?

I race professionally. However this term is slightly misleading as I don’t get a salary for it but I live, breathe and race as such. I have sponsorship such as Rock and Road and also a fantastic Salmon company called Loch Duart (very tasty salmon too). I get prize money – if I’m lucky and successful .
I have day job as a Dementia Advisor with Alzheimer Scotland that is fairly flexible to support what I do and give me the flexibility to compete.

I am quite busy with racing. I race race World Cups, European races and British races. World Cups are the main focus and they start at the end of May in the Czech Republic. This year the World Cups also count as qualification races for the Commonwealth Games. I am away a lot during the season and sometimes that can mean back to back world cups but usually it means Fri-Mon so I can balance it out with my job. It is pretty full on but I love it.

What got you into cycling? (or back into it?)

Like most kids I cycled when I was wee as well as being very sporty. I ran competitively and I loved PE and any sport.  I really got into cycling during my masters degree at university of Stirling. A friend convinced me to enter a triathlon. I did not even have a bike at the time so I went to a local bike shop that recycles bikes called  Recyke-a-bike.  The bike I got had downtube shifters and to be honest it was a hilarious bike, way too big for me. It was splattered with fluorescent colours, but I loved it. It was not perfect and sure it was a bit heavy but it got me pedalling and that is how it started.

So my friend and I started going for rides, and we entered a wee novice triathlon and I did quite well. I would say that I was was hooked on cycling afterwards . I feel I am definitely competitive by nature and that triathlon in my 20’s reminded me of my competitive younger self and really got fired up and reinvigorated once again for competitive sport.

What would you say was your most significant achievement (so far!)?

Definitely competing at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. I rode for Team Scotland in the mountain bike race.

You could say I qualified against the odds as I was still quite a new cyclist but I threw everything at it, I was really self-motivated and determined and eventually but painfully it paid off! Initially I had entered a mountain bike race to complement my triathlon but I finished the race sandwiched between 2 girls who at the time were ‘commonwealth games hopefuls’, namely Lee Craigie and Katie Winton. My triathlon coach at the time told me he thought I should focus on cycling so I slowly switched and as soon as I stopped swimming and running, my biking got better and better. I switched eventually because to be honest, I hated swimming! So it wasn’t a case of- oh let’s see if I can qualify for the games, it was a conscious switch to focus and grow my strength. Best decision I ever made!

 

What’s your biggest frustration?

On a professional level I would say the obvious inequality between male and female cyclists. Especially in road cycling where there is often not even a female team and if there is, it can quite often be a tokenistic effort to say ‘see we support female cyclists’.  Also very few females race full time because the salaries male equivalents earn is just a dream for many female cyclists  but here is a lot of discussion around that currently and many people doing their bit to enforce change. The women often have to figure out a way to balance racing professionally and supporting themselves as there is simply not the same levels of money involved in women’s racing. It’s not just about the money though, for many the frustration lies in the fact that there aren’t female equivalents to male races, the Tour de France being a case in point.

It is really frustrating to see but positive and uplifting to realise that currently there are changes happening and more and more professional female cyclists speak up about this subject.

What also frustrates me is car drivers. I sometimes wonder how can they still not understand a few things like overtaking to closely is scaring cyclists, overtaking in round abouts is dangerous. I see drivers getting so impatient. They should cheer for every cyclist on the road as this means one car less.

What’s your typical day/week of cycling? And what are the rides you dream about?

On a weekend I might be away for example Glasgow. I do a big road ride with iBike, a time  trail on Sunday and I will be at the Velodrome for four hours. So weekends are often jam packed with cycling and variation.

My training volume varies depending on the time of year but roughly my week will consist of a mixture of road and mountain bike riding. Some mountain bike rides are skills and technique focused so just shredding the trails- a lot of fun! Others might be hill reps, race specific efforts, endurance rides, hilly strength rides or base road miles. I also do hot Yoga and TRX at Heat Fitness studio in Stirling to work on my strength, conditioning and flexibility

 

The rides I dream about are definitely those rides with awesome massive climbs followed by awesome descents that go on and on – they leave a grin on your face and flies in your teeth!.  The reward of a great decent after a big effort to get up is simply amazing. You get a lot of juice for your squeeze.

If you could wave a magic wand, what’s the one (cycling-related) thing you’d wish for?

Cycling infrastructure that you do not have to think twice about. That you simple use to get somewhere. Jump on and just enjoy. Infrastructure should inspire people to ride a bike and I would love some Copenhagen style infrastructure around Scotland.

Who are the women in cycling you’d like to hear from next and why?

Loads to be honest. I have some great women around me who are doing really well. I think Charline Joiner (@ChaJoiner) has a lot to share. She is simply amazing.

Also put Lucy Grant, Isla Short and Katie Archibald on your list. There are many more but those three should give you some great chat.