Mel Alexander: Training for ABR 2014 from my perspective

Words: Melanie Alexander

Mel racing in adverse conditions. Hopefully it'll be better than this in Andalucia!
Mel racing in adverse conditions. Hopefully it’ll be better than this in Andalucia!

My race plans for the year – races I am targeting and why I feel Andalucia Bike Race is a good to start to the race season:

I am looking forward to this year’s racing, I am training hard, more focused and enjoying it more than ever. This year I have a huge personal goal of being selected and representing Wales at the Commonwealth Games, which keeps me driven.

Kick-starting my race season with Andalucia Bike Race is a fantastic training opportunity giving me a chance to be pushed competitively, test out my form, and ride hard in preparation for the national cross country races that will determine my selection for the Games.

Motivation through the winter months:

Training in the UK can be tough throughout the winter with the short dark days, wet and cold conditions. Having the aim of the Commonwealth Games and National series as my main focus for 2014 acts as a huge motivator.

Having Andalucia Bike Race, now only a matter of weeks away, definitely helps to keep me focused through the winter months. The chance to ride on different terrain, in a warmer climate is a welcome change from the repetitive dark winter commute rides and often muddy local trails. While my training is varied and different to last year’s and possible to fit in around work, a week to focus solely on the race will be great with the opportunity to ride during daylight and rest of an evening.

A better spot of weather at the Cape Epic.
A better spot of weather at the Cape Epic.

How I structure my training around work:

I work four days a week teaching Art in a prison so have to structure my training around this. From the beginning of October until last week I rode around 17 to 20 hours per week. Monday is always a rest from the riding, Tuesdays and Wednesdays I wake at 5.20 AM and cycle 90 minutes to work where I start at 8 AM and then cycle home at 5 PM. Although I hate waking up this early once up and on the bike I really enjoy the ride into work. I usually have intervals to focus on, during both the ride to and from work, which stops me getting bored of the route.

Thursdays I love, it is my day off work and usually consists of a three to four hour MTB ride on all my local trails. Friday is gym and then the weekend has been a mixture of cyclocross followed by a road ride home, mountain bike rides or road rides for around 3 to 4 hours on both days with intervals.

Winter training has involved a fair amount of hours on the bike, but also intervals on the majority of rides. These have been anywhere between 20 minute to one minute efforts. From race pace to flat out to TT efforts; all to build speed and fitness. The structure of this training is set by Scott (Fit In No Time) who plans my training, under whose tutelage I’ve developed far more than when I was setting it myself.

On the whole I feel training is going well and I cannot wait to test out my form in Andalucia.

Race Partner:

I will be racing with my husband Mark Spratt (Cardiff Jif). Mark regularly finishes top 10 in the Vets at national XC races and is an awesome 24 hour racer, winning Mountain Mayhem solo in 2012 and twice National and European 24 champ (Vets). We have competed twice before as a pair, the first time at the Cape Epic in 2005 when we were new to racing and then again in 2011 when we won the mixed category at Sudety Mountain Bike Challenge. We make a good team and this time me being stronger than previously will make us an even stronger team. We will keep you up dated on our daily race progress through out the race here on Bike Magic.

Mel's race partner - her husband!
Mel’s race partner – her husband!

Thanks as always to my sponsors : Scott Sport UK, Syncros, Sram, Torq, Schwalbe, Fibrax, Fit in no time and Exposure lights.

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