When Christina Mackenzie fell short of breaking the end-to-end record in 2019 she said she’d never attempt the mammoth ride again. But then she did and obliterated the record in the process.
Don’t take this the wrong way, I ask nervously, but you’ve got quite an obsessive personality, haven’t you? A laugh, thankfully, is how the tricky question is received. “You’ve picked up on that one well, haven’t you,” chuckles Christina Mackenzie. “You’re absolutely right, though: if I sign up to something, agree to a challenge, I will make sure I am committed to it, do everything that is needed.”
It is a week after the Scotswoman set a new Land’s End to John O’Groats women’s record of 51:05.05, breaking Lynne Taylor’s 19-year-old record by 100 minutes, and she’s sat in her Stirling home, five kilograms heavier due to stubborn water retention, and regaling how she went from not even being a cyclist a decade ago to being the fastest female to ride from the bottom to the top of the UK.
“Obsessive personality,” she muses with a laugh. “I suppose I have, really. I have always had an urge to push myself further: I bought my first road bike in 2012, started with sprint triathlons and within a year was doing Olympic distance and Iron Mans. I then went from 24 hour time trials to riding for 50-odd hours. You can see the pattern, can’t you.”
Spend a few minutes in the company of the 44-year-old and you realise that Mackenzie’s sporting trajectory is as predictable as a join-the-dots drawing exercise. One thing, inevitably, leads to the other.
However, she ran into a roadblock in 2019. Riding at record-pace on her first LEJOG attempt, she suffered in the final quarter and finished two hours short of Taylor’s benchmark. Being an indefatigable athlete, however, she was soon plotting how across three July days in 2021 she would ride 839 miles and write a new chapter in cycling’s long distance annals.
You can read the full article in the October 7 issue of Cycling Weekly, on sale now. You can buy Cycling Weekly magazine in the shops and online (free postage) or you can subscribe, save on the cover price and get it delivered to your door every Thursday.
Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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