Melissa is a cyclist who has already achieved some impressive results. She talks to Sundried about training and racing.
Have you always been into sport?
Yes, before I found cycling my main sport and passion was horse riding. I started horse riding age 4 and I am fortunate enough to have my own horse who has been with me now for 16 years. When I was younger, I competed nationally and having a hobby like horse riding, there was never much down time.
I was active back in my school and university days playing hockey at school and joining the snow sports team while at university.
What made you decide to enter the world of cycling?
I started cycling towards the end of 2016. When my horse retired earlier that year due to injury, I needed something to get stuck into. I wanted a sport that filled my time in a similar way. I tried the gym and some outdoor fitness groups but I really missed the competitive side.
A friend suggested cycling and it started as a way to fill my time and has quickly become a hobby, a passion and an obsession.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
My favourite race to date has to be competing at the Tour of Cambridge, as an individual and as a team. In my individual race last year, although not my best performance, I learned a lot about myself as a rider and the sport. I definitely came away a stronger rider for it and I am excited to head back there this year.
And your proudest achievement?
I have a few! I am really proud to have completed Coast to Coast in a day. 150 miles with 4500m of climbing from Seascale on the west coast to Whitby on the east coast, taking in the best that the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales have to offer. I also had the opportunity last year to ride the Garmin Ride Out event in the New Forest with some amazing professional riders. Racing-wise, I was delighted to get a second place in an Open TT last year and to PB over 10 miles
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
My toughest race to date was Tour of Cambridge. It was the longest TT I had ridden and I set off the start ramp with my heart rate pushing out of zone 4 as I was so nervous! The whole race was tough and I wanted to throw my bike in the hedge and order a taxi to be honest but as mentioned I learned a lot from it.
Disaster wise, I keep forgetting key bits of my kit such as Garmin and shoes (not forgotten the bike… yet!)
How do you overcome setbacks?
My best advice is to try and put it into perspective. We can only control so many things and normally it is things out of your control which set you back. I try to stay focused on the bigger picture, my overall performance and simply be kind to myself.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
How addictive it was going to be! At the end of every race I think 'I'm not doing another one' and hey presto before I know it I've signed up to several more. And to remember this is for fun and that’s the key. If it starts to feel like an effort or a chore, the balance is all out. Do take your training and riding seriously but keep it in context and don't sweat it if you have weeks where you can't fit things in around real life; work, home life, social life etc - it’s life!
What are your goals for 2020?
My goals this year are to head back to the Tour of Cambridge and improve on my time and overall performance from last year, complete the Midlands Women's TT series and get top 3 in my Jersey table (along with taking away the team prize). I want to improve my 10 mile TT PB and tackle my first 25-mile TT.
I’m also going to have my first go at some Ladies Cat 4 races.
Outside of my race goals it is to do some Sportive Tourism and see some new parts of the country by bike and continue growing my Breeze group.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from other riders around me. I like hearing how they got started, what motivates them to keep pushing and what they've then achieved.
Ultimately, we are amateur athletes who do this for the pure joy and thrill we get from it and that is something that inspires me - I want to see how far and hard I can push and challenge myself.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
I’ve been a fan of Sundried after seeing a few friends wearing the activewear. I like the classic and simple designs which really stand out. The wide range of ladies kit (across all the disciplines) really appeals to me as I think good-looking, quality female gear is lacking. I’m really excited to get my hands on the kit and put it to the test this year.