Scottish endurance cyclist and time-trial specialist Christina Mackenzie participated in her first competitive cycling event and sealed a spot in the UCI World Championships’ road race, nine months after a horrific hit-and-run crash with an SUV driver towing a trailer.
Mackenzie made headlines in July 2021 for breaking the almost two-decades old women’s cycling record for the punishing 839-mile long Land’s End to John O’Groats, finishing the ride in 51 hours, five minutes and 27 seconds and beating the previous time by an hour and 40 minutes.
However, in September last year, she suffered a broken pelvis after being struck by a hit-and-run SUV driver who “left her for dead”, while she was training near Stirling. She said that she felt “excruciating pain” and had “no mobility whatsoever” after the collision.
But nine months and some gruelling physiotherapy sessions later, she has not only found herself back in the saddle, but also qualified for the 2023 UCI World Championships road race, set to take place on 4th August in Perth.
“It’s been nine months since my last race,” she wrote on Twitter. “It was great to be able to enjoy cycling again with friends & get back on a start line.”
She was representing the Stirling Bike Club at the Tour of Cambridgeshire, a two-day event in Peterborough comprising of a road race and a time trial. She finished an impressive fourth place in the time trial over the hilly route, and came fifth in the 66-mile long road race, even winning a Strava QOM on the ToC finish sprint.
Christina, who lives in Cambusbarron but is originally from Stornoway, had set herself the target of competing at the International Island Games, being held in Guernsey in July. She entered the Tour of Cambridgeshire to better prepare herself for the games.
“The plan was to compete at the Island Games and I used this race to get myself ready for it, but to have qualified for the World Championships it amazing. I’m delighted”, she told the Observer.
In January this year, Mackenzie was able to go for a bike ride for the first time since the crash. Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime programme, she recalled her challenging rehabilitation, which involved even learning to walk again.
When she got on her bike, she admitted feeling “twitchy” during the 45-mile ride which passed the crash site near Kippen and told the BBC programme “it was really quite daunting” and the collision “knocked my confidence completely”.
“I just felt really twitchy, looking over my shoulders the whole time,” she said.
At the time of the crash, Mackenzie spoke of the difficulty to understand the driver not stopping to help, saying, “I'm disgusted by it. I'm not just a cyclist, I'm someone's sister, I'm someone's daughter.”
Her injuries left her housebound for the first month and even after that the first two months were “just horrific, the pain that I was in, no mobility whatsoever” and had a serious impact on her mental health.
The driver of the black SUV, believed to be a black Ford Ranger with tinted windows — towing a silver trailer, has still not been found despite a lengthy police investigation.
Ms Mackenzie described the knowledge that the motorist responsible still has not been caught as “frustrating” and a “complete disgrace” and explained how the police had told her they had made door-to-door inquiries, spoken to local farmers and attended markets, but came to the conclusion the driver was not local.
The horror crash scuppered the end to what was a sensational year for the Scottish endurance athlete. In May last year, Mackenzie set a new women's solo record for the famous North Coast 500, covering the 516-mile route in 36 hours, 39 minutes and seven seconds.
And in August, she became Scottish 100-mile time trial champion and at the start of September took her second British 12-hour championship, recording 263 miles on the Monmouthshire course.
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after completing his masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He also covers local and national politics for Voice Wales, and sometimes writes about science, tech and the environment. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him riding his bike on the scenic routes, fighting his urge to stop pedalling and click photographs (apparently not because he's bonking).