Commonwealth games athlete cycles through the Western Isles
‘I think because I come from an island I have taken it for granted
A COMMONWEALTH athlete, who completed a cycle of the Western Isles, found learning about a local postman the highlight of her challenge.
Kerry MacPhee, 29, from South Uist, and her sister, Kirsty, 26, were approached by BBC Alba to take part in ‘Barra to Butt’ and have their nine- day Hebridean journey documented.
Their journey is thought to have been the first of its kind and entailed cycling on the most off-the-beaten track routes on mountain bikes.
Having completed the journey and filming, The Oban Times caught up with Kerry.
She said: ‘It was the most amazing nine days. We rode on and off road and we met so many people along the way. They were what made the experience. We learned so much about everywhere we went and that was down to local knowledge.
‘On Harris we started at Urgha. The track from there to Renigadale is pretty tough and the climb takes you to nearly 300m in height, before going down what locals called the Renigadale rollercoaster. Prior to the 80s, the village was cut off from anywhere else.
‘ We learned that the local postman, Kenny MacKay, would walk six kilometres from Renigadale to Urgha a few times every week to deliver mail. These are the kinds of stories we heard Just amazing.’
The sisters met Kenny and celebrated his 80th birthday with him during the trip.
Originally a triathlete, Kerry has been mountain biking for a few years and surprised herself by competing at champion level early on. Her career has taken her to European championships, world championships and on to the Commonwealth games in 2014.
Her sister, Kirsty, is admittedly not as serious about the sport, but recently won silver medals.
Kerry said: ‘I race elite in the British teams. In the Island Games recently, I took two gold medals and two golds for the team. Kirsty got two silver on her own and contributed to the gold for the team.’
Now living in Stirling, Kerry admits that the Hebridean experience has revived her passion for the islands and her home.
She said: ‘ We both loved this experience and I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to do this. I have fallen in love with this part of the world. I think because I come from an island I have taken it for granted, but I plan to spend more time visiting the islands in the future.’
A date for the documentary has not yet been set.
Kerry MacPhee, left, and her sister, Kirsty