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.
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!
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.
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.