Erin Murphy collected her cycling champion’s jersey on Sunday after finishing third overall in the Sally Anne Low Memorial Race.
The 70km road race in the Cairngorms incorporated both the Scottish Junior and Veteran national titles.
Murphy has competed in competitive cycling for several years since making the move from triathlon. The cycling performance college student rides with Deeside Thistle and set her ambitions high before the race.
She said: “It’s always been that goal, that dream. Leading up to the race, I had been carrying a lot of fatigue from other races. So, part of me was quite nervous, the other part of me was like I have had a good week of training, things are going alright.
“But I didn’t know how it would go personally. The junior field wasn’t very big so going into the race I was solely focused on the Sally Anne Lowe bit.
“Taking the junior title out of it, topped it off. The third place I got in Sally on road almost means a little bit more because I had to fight that bit harder.”
Endurance and determination
Murphy identified her strengths and weaknesses to prepare for the physically demanding race. The three-lap event entails challenging climbs which she knew she had to prepare for.
She said: “Obviously, you do like specific training based around aspects of that race and any course details. I was focused on short interval efforts and I’d obviously looked at the course ahead of race day and figured it out where my strengths and weaknesses would be.
“I would do things like looking at the start sheet and picking out riders I need to watch. I’d also roughly plan when I was going to make a move so I can attack and where it would be best for me to do that.
“It doesn’t matter how much you plan ahead of a race, once the flag drops anything can happen. Even if I have planned, I am going to attack on the second lap, if somebody goes on the first option, you have to react to that almost if it is going to be a threat to your title or your overall place.”
Murphy rides with Deeside Thistle, Scotland’s largest cycling club. Deeside’s youth section currently has more than 100 riders with former Olympian Sarah Rowe taking on the role as lead youth coach.
The cycling club believes Murphy’s achievements are a testament to herself and the efforts of Deeside’s programme and coaches.
Sam Long, the youth and junior lead at Deeside Thistle, said: “Erin is one of seven male and female juniors (riders aged 16-18) who are part of DTCC Youth and Junior, all of whom race at Scottish and British series events.
“These riders are the eldest cohort in our coached groups, most of who have been with the club since we started (in 2012). It takes considerable effort from the rider, family and coaching team to achieve results like this, especially as we all live in the north-east of Scotland.”
The teenager knows that the support that she receives from Deeside Thistle is vital for both her physical and mental health.
She said: ““It’s been such a help. I’ve suffered a lot mentally but just in general, it’s not necessarily linked to cycling.
“The coaches have always been there for me and help me through. It didn’t even have to be cycling based, that support is always just there. I obviously get great feedback, after a great session.”
Ambitions set high
The Scottish junior road champion believes her win is just the tip of the iceberg and believes that greater things are on the horizon. She hopes to compete in races both domestically and abroad next year.
She said: “After the race, I was in shock. I kind of just fell on the floor in a lot of pain. It’s such a nice feeling when you finish because you’re absolutely empty. You’ve worked really hard for it and when you get a result out of it, it’s such a relief.
“My head was on a different planet and I was so dazed and confused. It’s nice to just have teammates around me to celebrate what I had actually done. It took a while for it to sink in.
“Next year I’ll hopefully be racing the National Series at quite a high standard and hopefully travelling a bit in Europe to do some of the bigger races. I’m just at the start of my development so I feel like there is still a lot to work on and a lot more to come.”
Murphy was disappointed to miss the Tour of Britain which took place in Aberdeen at the same time as her race and hopes that one day the event will evolve to include a women’s race.
She said: “It was absolutely amazing. I was gutted to miss it because I was away racing. I think it is so cool and so inspirational. Of course, I always want to see a women’s version of it but the time might come for that.”