Could You Survive Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio’s Smash Session?
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, South Africa’s most successful woman cyclist, had an up-and-down year in 2019; but she’s learning to conquer her own demons against the best in the world ahead of an Olympic year, as Nic Lamond found out for the November/December issue of Bicycling SA.
Nic caught up with Ashleigh and her husband Carl Pasio (also no mug on a bike!) at Can Campolier, a sprawling 17th Century Spanish villa Ash and her family bought and have been renovating over the past 18 months. Can Campolier is in Banyoles, a picturesque meander north of the road-cycling mecca of Girona. Alongside her husband, Carl Pasio, her dad and stepmom, Johan and Sandy Moolman, and long-time friend and ex-pro roadie Ed Greene, Ash is building the ultimate cycling escape at the bottom of Catalonia’s most famous Pyrenean climb – the Rocacorba.
Nice has the Madone, Lucca the Mont Serra, and Girona the Rocacorba. Iconic climbs shrouded in legend and used by the world’s best cyclists to build world-beating form.
“It’s my go-to for intervals,” Ashleigh says. “I know that climb better than anyone else. Every crack in the road, every turn, every aspect of it.” That’s why it made sense to call their flourishing cycling-tourism business Rocacorba Cycling. Not only because Can Campolier is at the base of the famous incline, but because the climb is such a big part of family life in their newly-adopted home in Catalonia.
From the outside, Ashleigh’s life appears a romantic blur of late mornings exploring the Catalonian countryside aboard the latest bike technology. Mountain passes. Ancient villages. Narrow cobbled streets. Idyllic coffee rides with the world’s most famous professional roadies. And all punctuated by far-flung pro racing in equally exotic locations. But the reality is far from this fantasy: life at the top in women’s pro cycling is as glamorous as trying to sleep with road-rash.
A day in the life of Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio
At Rocacorba Cycling, Can Campolier, Banyoles, Spain
- 8.00 Wake up and coffee in bed. Easy breakfast of overnight oats (oats mixed with nuts/dried fruit, soaked overnight) with fresh fruit, a dollop of almond butter and coconut milk next to the pond in Can Campolier courtyard.
- 9.30 Hop on the bike for a three-hour ride with intervals on Rocacorba.
- 12.30 Arrive home, shower, make and eat lunch
- 14.00 Afternoon nap.
- 15.00 Coffee and chat with guests in Can Campolier lounge.
- 15.30 Sit down, put my feet up and catch up on emails, admin and social media.
- 16.30 Rocacorba Cycling team meeting, strategy, and plan weekly activities.
- 17.00 Off to the local gym for a core/stretching session and recovery sauna.
- 18.00 Take Mila for a walk in the forest.
- 18.30 Dip in the pool.
- 19.00 Dinner prep and eat outside with Carl next to the pool.
- 21.00 Relax on the couch and watch some TV.
- 22.30 Off to bed.
Ash’s Rocacorba Smash Session
Under-over intervals, for improved climbing performance and time-trialing.
- Warm up for 30 min in zone 2.
- 4 x 8min FTP intervals: 40s at 340W then 20s at 240W, then back to 340W and repeat for 8min. Recover for 5min in zone 2 before repeating x 4.
- Warm down for 30min in zone 2.
- (Ash’s threshold power is 280W)
“This is a great session because it helps condition a road racer to make and sustain attacks. It works on a rider´s ability to ride over threshold pace, then clear lactate while still riding hard. It is also good for time-trialling, as modern thinking in time trials isn’t to ride the distance at a constant effort, but to vary it around threshold, sometimes going over where the course demands, such as on climbs, and sometimes dropping under where the course allows, such as on descents.”