Twenty-five-year-old Alex Welsh lives in Melbourne, Australia and competes in the H3 classification on a handcycle. He is currently the Australian road race and time trial champion in his class. Originally a motocross rider, Alex suffered an accident on 19th January 2009 which fractured his T7 vertebrae and damaged his spinal cord, leaving him paraplegic. After months of rehabilitation, Alex was in need of a new challenge, and it came in the shape of handcycling. We had a chat with Alex in between his busy training schedule and University coursework.
Alex, thanks for talking to us. How did you get into handcycling?
Originally, I got into wheelchair racing through Richard Colman who is one of Australia’s top wheelchair racers. I lived in the hills and it was nearly impossible to push my racing wheelchair around my home town, so I got a hand cycle as it allowed me to get back to riding all the roads I used to cycle on before I got injured.
We were so happy to hear about handcyclists on Zwift – how did you hear about Zwift?
I first heard about Zwift from following Jens Voigt on social media. I ended up signing up and waiting for access to one of the early beta versions, so I have been able to see the great software progress a lot from when I first started using it!
What does your training schedule consist of? How does Zwift fit in?
For my training I usually train 6 days a week and clock up 250 – 300 km per week, with most of my riding in the hills around home and few sessions a week on Zwift. I have worked with some great coaches in the past but now I just do my own training programs and track my progress through Training Peaks and Strava.
Do you have a special set up at home?
Not really, I use Zwift on my CompuTrainer in my garage which gives me the real road feel on my Macbook pro laptop. And I use an ANT+ stick to connect my SRM power meter and heart rate strap too.
Do you know if there are any other handcyclists on Zwift? How could the software be improved for handcyclists?
I’m not aware of any other handcyclists who use Zwift regularly but I know there are quite a few who have tested it out. I think for Zwift to encourage more participation for handcyclists it would be great to have a handbike as an option to ride instead of the standard 2 wheel bikes.
How has Zwift helped with your regime?
Using Zwift has helped me a lot with training as it provides a great balance between structure and fun. I am able to do my specific workouts on there and also just clock up the hours without the need to leave my garage on a rainy day.
What does the future hold in store for Alex, on and off the bike then?
For me in the future I plan to keep training and racing my handcycle to become the best cyclist I can possibly be. I hope to continue doing well in Australia to gain selection for the world championship team in South Africa 2017 and would love to compete in a Paralympics one day in the future.
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