Ashleigh Moolman Pasio is back in her home country of South Africa to take part in the Cape Town Cycle Tour, a race sponsored by team partner Klein Constantia. She is also there to visit a project that is very close to her heart: the girls project at Khaltsha Cycles that she helped create with her own Rocacorba Collective community.
Khaltsha Cycles is a one-stop bike shop operating from shipping containers in Khayelitsha township in the City of Cape Town. The goal of Khaltsha Cycles is to create and promote the culture of cycling in townships. Ashleigh specifically focused on getting more girls on bikes.
“I always had the aspiration or a goal to pay it forward in Africa,” Ashleigh says. “I have recognised as a woman how cycling has helped me to grow in confidence and to become a stronger woman, not only physically but also by character. That I am able to stand up for myself in a world that is predominantly dominated by men. I have always wanted to pay this forward in Africa where women are often really undermined by men. Women have very little power in the African communities. The man is seen as the head of the home, as the powerful person in the home. I have been wanting to do this for many years and finally found a partner in Khaltsha Cycles.”
Khaltsha Cycles identified thirty teenage girls to ride the iconic Cape Town Cycle Tour with Ashleigh. Ashleigh and her own Rocacorba Collective virtual community crowdfunded to get bikes for these girls, not only for the race on Sunday but to equip them for the rest of the year as well.
“The people live in shocking conditions in tiny homes the size of one bedroom in most of our homes,” Ashleigh continues. “The girls in the townships have many challenges to overcome. They have to go really long distances to go to school. They are subject to the power of a man. There is rape, teenage pregnancies and alcohol abuse and those are only a few challenges these teenage girls have to withstand on a day-to-day basis. Through this program I want to empower them with their own bicycles, to teach them cycling and give them a sense of belonging in a girls’ club. I want to help to stay active on a weekly basis, by training on their bikes and grow their confidence. We hope that we can keep them out the trouble of the streets and help them to build the confidence to create a better life for themselves and to chase the opportunities in life so they can take themselves out of poverty.”
“The initial goal of the crowdfunding was to get thirty girls on bikes to race the Cape Town Cycle Tour, a big cyclosportive. We met our target there and I could travel to South Africa to hand over the bikes. I also rode with them on Sunday after racing the elite race, sponsored by our team partner Klein Constantia. That was a lucky coincidence.”
“The long-term goal is to create an esports centre and a learning centre. They need computers to learn, but also to race on Zwift indoors. Then for example they can ride with me even when I am in Spain. That’s the next goal,” Ashleigh concludes.
If you want to empower these girls through bikes, through learning and through esports in their own township, go to the url and help! A little bit goes a long way if we all help get more girls on bikes: