Com­mon­wealth games ath­lete cy­cles through the Western Isles

‘I think be­cause I come from an is­land I have taken it for granted

The Oban Times - - Sport -

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.

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Kerry MacPhee, left, and her sis­ter, Kirsty

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