Moolman Pasio creates safe, inspiring Esports cycling space for women

In an effort to create a safe and inspiring space for women to ride in cycling Esports, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (SD Worx), the current Esports world champion, has founded the Rocacorba Collective.

The Rocacorba Collective will cater to all ability levels, launching a premier league Esports team as well as providing women's only virtual rides, mixed social rides, weekly workouts, training plans, yoga and Pilates classes, Q&A’s, webinars and exclusive product discounts.

Like so many others, the COVID-19 pandemic redefined Moolman Pasio’s relationship with the virtual world. “During the lockdown, especially during the very hard lockdown in Spain, I decided to embrace virtual, indoor training,” she said. 

“It’s quite ironic because it’s something I didn’t enjoy at all and that I avoided at all costs, but during lockdown I realised it was my only option. I then discovered the power and potential of the virtual world for growing female participation.”

For women in particular, Moolman Pasio explained, cycling can be an intimidating environment to enter. It is male dominated, involves wearing form-fitting lycra, and requires grappling with all the intricacies of cleats and punctures.

“All of a sudden,” Moolman Pasio noticed when hosting virtual rides during lockdown, “from the safety of their own home where no one can see or judge them, the interactions were more powerful and positive. One of the women on the rides summed it up by saying, ‘my avatar has no shame’, and that’s what led me to use this in a positive way.”

To provide this space for women, the Rocacorba Collective will be funded by a membership model, rather than sponsorship. Depending on the success of this model, the Collective will aim to realise a series of goals including the professionalisation of the premier league team, and the creation of a community platform, rider development program in South Africa, physical community clubhouses, professional gravel team and professional road team.

This method and the Collective’s association with Rocacorba Cycling, her cycling tourism business, reflect Moolman Pasio’s aim to integrate the various components of the cycling industry. 

“I’ve always had the idea to somehow influence professional cycling’s business model, or lack of, and create a more sustainable environment for the cycling and pro-cycling industry to co-exist,” Moolman Pasio said. “I’ve always felt that it is very fragmented, the different parts of the industry don’t work very well together. You have pro-cycling which is very independent to cycling tourism which is quite independent to events.

“They don’t come together under one umbrella so Rocacorba Cycling started with that ambition in mind- to bring pro-cycling closer to cycling tourism and allow the brands which sponsor pro-cycling to have visibility and reach the people who buy their products in the form of rental bikes, etc.”

The virtual world offers a crucial link in meshing together each of these parts. “We don’t have to be in the same place at the same time but we can share our insight, ride together and help educate each other on different products that are out there,” Moolman-Pasio said. 

Building communities, or strengthening the connections between existing communities, seems to be threaded throughout the entirety Moolman-Pasio’s initiative. It is her hope that the Rocacorba Collective will become a “fun safe place for women to come together, train together, share insight and build confidence. Hopefully that confidence can transcend into the real world- whether that means taking part in real-life cycling events or being more confident in their home or workplace and that it can positively impact their lives.”

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