Melanie Alexander: throwing on one wheel and riding on two!

Melanie – Mel – tells us about her passions and how they come together. We loved to find out about her artistic side and therefore we asked her about her creations and racing in the Women category with Sophie Hemming (UK).

I am fairly new to throwing on a wheel having tried it for the first time a year ago. It is a fantastic process; I like both the processes of throwing a form and then turning the form to shape it. Once I got the hang of making a few small cylinders, I started making some pots with Puffins on for an exhibition based on the coast of West Wales. Puffins are a small bird native to the area, quite an interesting little sea bird.

I then made a few cups as Christmas presents painted to suit the individuals and this developed into making some cups as prizes at a local beach race where I set up a stand to sell a few “bike mugs”. Every cup I make is unique. The shape and size of the cup, the handle, the image to place on them and how the image is applied are all elements I am still exploring. Some of the images are painted on, others are in the techniques of Scraffito and inlay. I would like to develop the cups into pairs or small groups of four but still keep their unique character. I have no interest in mass production.

Why bikes?

It just seemed obvious, they are great, practical, take you to fantastic places and make you feel good. I would like to expand on the bike designs and include other cycling related images – places I go and things I see – often on a bike. I’ve also created some bike themed bowls that I will develop further.

For a few years mountain biking has taken over my creative time. Mountain biking is a fantastic sport but racing takes a lot of energy and focus. Last year I decided to make time to explore new skills such as throwing on the wheel, stone carving and bronze casting. Throwing grabbed me much more than I was expecting, I liked the immediacy, the challenge, the process– it takes a lot of focus so can be very relaxing. I like the fact it can be developed in so many ways and there is so much to explore. It has got me excited about making again. I want to continue combining painting and drawing on my ceramics and to develop my throwing skills.


This year I am excited to see where the ceramics goes but also to have a couple of races to aim for. It’s great to have Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano as a target. Part of the excitement for me is the opportunity to ride and race in new parts of the World and to take part in new events. I love riding in Italy and the Appenninica takes places in a part of Italy I have not raced before so I’m looking forward to experiencing what the area has to offer. It’s going to be an epic week and I’m looking forward to racing with Sophie for the first time as a team. We have ridden some pretty awesome trails together in Wales, Scotland, and Switzerland and soon we’ll be able to include Italy in this list. Hopefully, I can strike the right balance between throwing on one wheel and riding on two!

Our Team

We met when racing XC three years ago. We always have close battles, climbing and descending at similar speeds which will work well for stage racing as a team. We have ridden some pretty awesome trails together and have been talking about racing a stage race together for a couple of years now, but we have waited for the right time and race to appear. There doesn’t appear to be many stage races which are 8 days long and technical which is why Appenninica grabbed our attention.

Mel Alexander


I have been mountain biking for many years, first attracted to stage racing due to the places it took me and the challenge to aim for before focusing on XC for a few years.
Sophie is relatively new to mountain biking in comparison, but with a background playing Rugby for England she has adapted to the sport very quickly. Whilst I have competed in a Mountain biking World cup Sophie has competed in, and won, a different World Cup playing Rugby for England.
Sophie is not only a competitive athlete she is also a mother to Sam and has a demanding job as a vet, which she did alongside training and representing England at Rugby before moving onto her newer passion of mountain biking. My day job is as an Art teacher in a prison and I’m also developing my own range of ceramic pieces with a cycling theme.

Becking and Piana conquer Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023

The Dutch rider of Buff-Megamo is the first male athlete to win two editions of Appenninica MTB Stage Race. Becking sealed the overall win by raising arms again in the last stage, followed by Tiago Ferreira and Tim Smeenge, who join him on the podium in second and third position respectively. Debora Piana takes the women’s GC, while Ilina triumphs again in Vidiciatico. “We are really proud of the athletes’ feedback” said the organizers

Happy day for DMT Racing Team in Vidiciatico. Becking and Piana keep the lead

Tiago Ferreira went all-in in the penultimate stage of Appenninica MTB Stage Race from Fanano to Vidiciatico, trying to pursue the leader’s jersey, but Becking kept everything under control. Same plot in the women’s category, with Russian Kristina Ilina taking her second win and Piana in control

Appenninica’s colour is Orange: Smeenge and Becking the stars of stage 4

The Dutch MTB Marathon National champion raises hands in Fanano, while Becking increases his gap in the GC on Tiago Ferreira. Debora Piana keeps dominating and makes it three in a row. Tomorrow, September 8th, the penultimate stage of Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023 runs from Fanano to Lizzano in Belvedere

Becking and Piana strenghten their lead in Fiumalbo

The two leaders got the second win at Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023. The Dutch rider of Buff-Megamo Team sprinted over Tiago Ferreira, while things are getting spicy for the bronze medal, with four riders fighting for the third position. In the women’s field, the Italian of Team Cingolani-Specialized secured the leader jersey with another success in Fiumalbo over Ilina. Tomorrow, September 7th, the peloton heads to Fanano

Ferreira and Piana tame the Mountain Queen Stage

The Portuguese athlete of DMT Racing Team answered back to Becking’s success in the opening stage, while Tronconi and Smeenge remain in contention behind them. Debora Piana took the win and the lead in the women’s category. Tomorrow, September 6th, marks the first-ever border crossing from Emilia-Romagna to Tuscany for the race, with the stage starting and finishing again in Fiumalbo

Becking and Ilina secure victory in the opening act of Appenninica 2023

The Dutch rider from Team Buff-Megamo the Russian of DMT Racing Team have made an impact on the inaugural stage of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race. Completing the men’s podium were Tiago Ferreira and Martino Tronconi, while Debora Piana and Nina Brenn claimed spots on the women’s top-3. Tomorrow, September 5th, comes the anticipated Queen Stage

Castelnovo ne’ Monti and the Bismantova Rock welcome back the Appenninica show

The program of the MTB stage race (4-9 September) was anticipated by the “Appenninica lovers” Granfondo. Starting from tomorrow, the main event will kick off with Hans Becking and Tiago Ferreira leading the title race, while Naima Diesner emerges as the top contender in the Women’s field

With 150 riders from all continents, the Appenninica challenge goes global

Approaching its fifth edition (September 4-9, 2023), Appenninica MTB Stage Race – the mountain bike stage race in the Emilia-Romagna Apennines, Italy – is set to showcase 150 athletes hailing from 24 Nations, marking a sold-out status. This year, the event introduces an innovative initiative: Appenninica Teen Camp

Miguel Martinez leads the charge of “The Appenninici”

Cross-country gold medalist from the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Miguel Martinez, is set to kick off the 2023 Appenninica MTB Stage Race (September 4-9, 2023). A multitude of riders will converge for this stage race in the Emilia-Romagna Apennines, seeking a distinctive adventure filled with a treasure trove of stories and anecdotes.

Riders bulletin n.6/2023

Riders bulletin n.6 August 29, 2023   This is the sixth rider bulletin. These bulletins will provide useful information, news, and mandatory action reminders. Race time is Sunday!   The starting list is on the website. Click here. The event is sold out....

The Appenninica MTB Stage Race partners’ squad keeps growing stronger

In its fifth edition, scheduled from September 4th to 9th, the race has further stocked its partners’ panel: a testament to the event’s rise towards international prominence, while keeping deep roots in its territory

Debora Piana and Kristina Ilina challenge Naima Diesner for Appenninica throne

The German, winner of the last two editions, will be the athlete to beat at the 2023 Appenninica MTB Stage Race (Sept. 4-9), but the Italian rider and the Russian national champion will be upfront to try to spoil her plans