It all started at weekly ladies rides in Stellenbosch led by Joanna Dobinson (BikingInTheBosch) where the four of them (now the team members) met. All come from different cycling backgrounds. After riding and a couple of coffees later, they have found themselves on the same wavelength: Break barriers. Dream big, seemingly impossible things. Then go for it. This motive as a whole then sparked their idea: Start a gritty women’s team, go from zero to hero and get more ladies to believe they are capable of doing the same – ultimately increasing the numbers of confident ladies on the starting line of MTB races in South Africa.
The four team members are Elrika-Harmzen Pretorius, Tyla Setzkorn, Bianca Silberbauer and Cally Silberbauer. The team consists of two categories: Racing team and Adventure team. The Racing team (Elrika and Tyla) compete against the elite women’s field.
The races they aim to compete in are races such as Wines2Whales, Tankwa Trek, Cape Pioneer Trek, etc. The Adventure team (Cally and Bianca) compete in the ultramarathon races such as KarooBurn,36One, TransBaviaans, 24hours etc. In this way female cyclists of all disciplines and goals will be able to relate to our team and mission as whole.
There is a big gap (barrier) between the amateur and elite field of cycling. Because the ladies field is so small, lining up with men at races, a lot of ladies with so much potential, goes unnoticed. They feel they don’t have the skills to keep up with the men, or even hold them back. Lots of these really talented ladies admire the elite/professional women but feel insufficient and incapable, compared to the top level of racing. They might not have the coaching, nutritional or financial means to get to that level (although they have the potential and drive). Another big barrier is age. There is a stigma that in order to race at elite level, one has to have started racing at a very early age. Which is not true. Project Barrier Breakers strive to break all these barriers and take hands with all the female cyclists to enable them to do the same.
They are very fortunate to have Barry Austin (from Barry Austin Cycling and CyclingLeadout) who identified the value in building on South Africa’s women’s cycling and potential of this project’s mission. (visit barryaustincycling.com for coaching options)
“We have put together a formally detailed business plan outlining our mission, vision, long and short term goals, racing calendar etc. We propose this to potential sponsors. Our priority and responsibility towards our loyal sponsors is to always recognize them in all our doings. We thank and acknowledge them for playing their part in enabling more ladies to race. Therefore, we are going to expose our sponsors on our social media platforms and possibly collaborate with them in the future to further contribute to their product. We have a plan in place to reach out to schools and start girls cycling teams. All the ladies we take under our wing, will form part of our breakthrough journey to breaking barriers for all women in cycling to come! They must just follow our journey and take hands. We can get women racing…. together! Should any company or business owner see the value in partnering with our team in this project for the mutual benefit thereof, they are encouraged to contact they team on their main platform (Instagram account: ProjectBarrierBreakers)”