QUESTION 1: You had an amazing 2015. What are some of your favourite racing memories/achievements of the year?
After finishing the London Olympic Games and being quite overwhelmed, I realised if I want to stand a chance at performing at an Olympic Games that it’s a four year process. I made the conscious decision when I crossed the finish line in London that I wanted to really plan ahead and to use the full four year period to build up to the next games. That’s essentially why my husband and I have made the commitment to base ourselves for at least 7 months of the year in Europe and for me to race here week in and week out. This has been a huge factor in allowing me to grow and strengthen year to year, with the intention always to eventually crack the top 10 work ranking. In the year preceding the Olympic Games I couldn’t have asked for anything better than finished the year ranked in the top 10 world ranking. In order to take the pressure off a little bit this year, I made the decision to race as much as possible in 2015 because that’s when the points started to come for the Olympics. I didn’t want to feel pressure during the first part of the season. The highlight of my 2015-year was of course the Momentum 947 race in South Africa. It was very special racing the very first UCI 1.1 race in Africa on home soil, and in front of home support. What made it even more memorable was the way in which I won the race. After forcing an early break away of four riders, I crashed heavily on a fast descent mid way through the race. But thanks to the amazing support from my Cervelo Bigla team, I got up and went on to win the race solo! Winning Momentum 947 was most certainly one of my most special moments of my cycling career!
QUESTION 2: Have you changed or adapted your training programme in any way with the Olympics coming up?
I haven’t really changed training too much, it’s good to keep routine and consistency. I have a South African coach, Dr Jeroen Swart, who is involved in the scientific part of my training, which along with my husband Carl has been a great combination. The only adaptation I have made is that I’ve raced a little less this year with the objective not to overdo things in terms of racing. With training it’s always easy to control your fatigue on a day-to-day basis, but when racing it’s not always that easy with all of the travelling and other stresses. Other than that it’s just good old hard training, consistency, altitude, good supplementation and perhaps a little bit more time on Rocacorba (a famous climb in Girona, Spain which most of the pro’s living in the area use as a test climb before the Tdf)! It shares many similarities with the final Olympic climb, Vista Chinesa.
QUESTION 3: What does an average day in the life of Ashleigh Moolman look like?
An average day for me in Europe revolves around eating, training, doing admin and recovering. It looks something like this: Wake up, make a fresh veggie juice with lots of beetroot, enjoy a relaxed breakfast and do some emails. Then I head out for my training ride, which varies from anything between 1h30 to 5 hours, depending on the time of the season. I do long endurance rides during the off-season and building months between races. And I do shorter, more intense sessions closer to target races. When an important race is approaching, I usually reduce my training hours and focus more on specific intensity work to get the body firing and ready for race day. It’s important to be fresh, especially for goal races, so I would never do a long training ride the days before a big race. About 4 – 5 days before a target event, my rides range from 1h30 to 2hours and include short high intensity intervals like sprints, 2min or 4min efforts. When back from my training ride, I shower, make myself lunch and continue to do admin. In the late afternoon, I make myself a delicious Biogen Whey Protein smoothie and I usually go down to the lake (we live near to Banyoles Lake in Spain), where I do a session in the gym or I relax, swim in the lake and enjoy some recovery in the sauna. Then back home to prepare dinner and wind down. I train five to six days a week, with at least one day off the bike completely. At the moment I’ve just finished a big training block at altitude in the Pyrenees, and will soon be racing a tour in Germany called Thuringen Rundfart starting 15 July. This will be my final preparation race before Rio 2016.
QUESTION 4: What diet/eating plan do you follow to assist you when training and competing?
I believe in balance. I don’t follow any crazy diet regime, but I really enjoy eating healthily and clean (no processed foods). I follow a diet that consists mainly of fresh, whole foods and I eat 4 – 5 small meals a day, making sure each meal consists of a good balance of carbs, fats, proteins and plenty of salad or vegetables. And of course a protein smoothie with Biogen Whey Protein Isolate is my treat every afternoon. I like to experiment with different smoothie ingredients, from berries to avocado to nut butters etc. It’s fun experimenting with different textures and flavours.
QUESTION 5: What is your favourite Biogen product and why?
My favourite Biogen product is Cytogen Race Mix. The blend of moderate and fast releasing Carbs help to sustain my energy levels throughout the very tough races I take part in all around the world. The kick of caffeine also helps to give me an extra boost when it really counts, so that I can be my best!
QUESTION 6: What are you most looking forward to at the Rio Olympics?
I’m looking forward to representing my country with pride! To me the Olympic Games is more than the world’s biggest sporting event, it is a movement aimed at uniting people through sport. As a young girl, I always marveled at the thought of the Olympic Games. It has always been something special to me, an event that has captured my imagination. I would watch the different athletes taking part in their respective sporting disciplines with the utmost admiration and respect. I had always dreamed of going the Olympics, and in 2012 it became a reality. But now with the Rio Games fast approaching, it is more than just going to the Games, I aspire to go to Rio with the hopes of medalling for my country.
QUESTION 7: If you could compete in any other sport, what would it be?
Horse riding. I absolutely love animals, and in particular horses. I grew up riding and I used to watch the movie “International Velvet” many times as a young girl. I always dreamed of going to the Olympic Games for cross-country horse riding.
QUESTION 8: Do you have any words you live by, like a motto or a saying that motivates you?
I live by these words: Life is all about choices. You choose to win or to lose in life. Nobody owes you anything; you owe it to yourself to follow your dreams. I choose to live passionately! To focus on the positives, to stand firm in my beliefs and values, and to keep my eyes on the bigger picture.
QUESTION 9: Other than the Olympics, what else do you have coming up that our fans might want to look out for?
My next race is a tour in Germany called Thuringen Rundfart from 15 – 21 July. This will be my final preparation race before the Games. In order to follow the progress of the race and my performance there, best to keep an eye on my team’s twitter page: twitter.com/CerveloBigla
QUESTION 10: Do you have any advice for young cyclists or athletes hoping to compete on an international stage in future?
Find your passion in life and pursue it. It is important that you really love what you do and that your motivation comes from within. Do not be tempted by external motives; like money, things, popularity or attention. Because there will be many obstacles along the way, but if you really love what you do, you will always be able to overcome the obstacles to realise your full potential.