By Simon Smythe published
Ashleigh Moolman Pasio lives in a 17th century farmhouse 25km outside Girona. It’s set in peaceful, idyllic countryside and the Catalonian weather is warm, sunny and perfectly suited to bike riding - so it might seem perverse that she is the world’s best at indoor cycling.
However, the room where the reigning UCI Cycling Esports world champion - who is also a road pro for Team SD Worx - trains and races is much more in harmony with its surroundings than most people's pain caves.
“I am incredibly lucky,” she admits. “I know most people who have indoor setups are cramped in a corner of a garage somewhere but I have this massive barn space.”
The house - Can Campolier - had always belonged to the Campolier family and Moolman Pasio and her husband Carl are the first non-Campolier owners.
“It was left to the eldest son who never had any family or married so when his parents died he was done with it. He had no interest in the farm so that’s how we acquired it,” she explains.
The Pasios now run Rocacorba Cycling, a cycling tourism business, from Can Campolier. “We have everything from accommodation to bicycle rental to guiding, meals, yoga, whatever we can to make people’s stay in the Girona area as comfortable as possible,” Moolman Pasio explains.
Her training room - where she won the first ever UCI Esports World Championship - is a huge, airy, upstairs barn with exposed beams that she says was “the best room at the time because there’s so much space up there.” Historically the living quarters were downstairs while stores and anything else that needed to be protected was upstairs, she explains.
Moolman Pasio fully intends to protect her title on February 26, 2022 in the same room, and says the memory of the win motivates her whenever she trains and races in there - “and even more because I have a world champion spray job on my bike [which arrived after these photos were taken], which is now permanently on the setup. And I also have a big wall hanging of me racing the World Champs so yes, it’s definitely on the top of my mind.”
Moolman Pasio’s S-Works Tarmac SL7 is on a raised platform with a steel industrial floor.
“We also do bike fits so the platform was made to create a level surface. When we have bike fittings it gets taken away. The tiled floor is not 100 per cent level so your indoor trainer can rock a bit or you need to put something under one of the feet - but it’s cool because you step up on the platform and you’re in the space, it’s time to race.”
Moolman Pasio uses a Tacx Neo 2T, also the type that the UCI sent all competitors to be used in the 2020 World Championship race.
“I am a Garmin-Tacx athlete as SD Worx is sponsored by Garmin-Tacx and they’re also working with me at the moment because I’m putting together a Rocacorba Cycling Esports team. If I’m not mistaken Wahoo is the partner of the UCI for the 2022 world championship so I’m assuming we’ll all be on Wahoo for that.”
The very big Samsung TV screen is essential for Zwift racing: “When I’ve done Zwifting on team training camps on a laptop or an iPad you really do feel the difference, so I think that’s a big part of making you feel in the game and creating excitement. You need a big TV screen.”
The TV screen Moolman Pasio uses for Zwift sits on a very old piece of furniture. “It is one of the original pieces from the Campolier family that was left,” Moolman Pasio explains.
As for the TV’s connection with the present, it’s joined to a small PC which runs Zwift.
As well as a big TV, a big fan is essential: “It’s a big room but you still need a fan! If you open both doors there’s good airflow but you still need a fan to be blowing directly on you or you just overheat.”
On the wall is a huge crowd scene. “Initially during the pandemic it was just jerseys on the wall,” says Moolman Pasio, “but before the world champs I said to Tactic, a Girona-based kit brand, who make my national team kit and work with our business, if there’s anything you guys would like to do in terms of getting content and being involved you’re welcome to come. I really like having people around when I’m racing, people who want to come and watch and be part of the whole vibe. They arrived on the morning and they had printed out a big picture of the crowd they’d taken in Yorkshire and had gone all out putting my name on one of the banners, a South African flag to create something special in the room, a bit of ambiance. Subsequently, they’ve given me another big print on material of me with that in the background to remind me of the world champs.”
With the World Championships having skipped 2021 to move from December to February, Moolman Pasio says she’s pleased to spend an extra two months in the rainbow jersey. “Obviously my avatar has been riding around in it but I’m just getting a real one so finally real life is matching the virtual world.”
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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