The inaugural TREAD Femme Women in MTB Awards have been established to recognise women that are leaders and achievers and who are making a positive impact on mountain biking in South Africa. We want to recognise and celebrate women that are leading by example and improving South African mountain biking in their own way. Here are the winners.

Since we launched TREAD in 2009, we have always looked for ways to add value to South African mountain biking. Initially, it was a dedicated mountain bike media, then we added professional mountain bike skills coaching (TREAD Skills) and a racing category for heavier riders (the TREAD Buffalo Category). More recently we’ve launched SHRED, a media sub-division aimed at younger riders and the gravity market. We also wanted to add more value to the growing women’s market, so we launched TREAD Femme.

We have more plans for TREAD Femme in 2022, but wanted to end off 2021 by launching the TREAD Femme Women in MTB Awards. Women make up around 23% of the SA mountain bike market, but women hold a number of key positions that help grow the sport in general and women’s mountain biking in particular.

The structure is nomination based, which means that some women that are doing so much for mountain biking were simply not nominated. We need to find a way to address this in future, but we had to start somewhere. Anyway, we had more than 50 nominations across the five categories! We read every single nomination and have to say that we are incredibly fortunate to have so many inspiring women in South African mountain biking.

We decided on four main categories – Group Champion, Industry Leader, Mentor and Athlete and a fifth category, Warrior of the Future, to acknowledge the young women that are nominated in any of the four main categories.

Our panel spent hours considering each nomination and came up with 22 finalists. We decided to ask each finalist to nominate their winner for each category (except the category they are in) to assist us in the difficult task of choosing winners. The winners for each catgory are listed below with a summary of the role they play in mountain biking. Over the next few weeks we will do a more detailed article on each winner.


A woman that is selfless and spends time and effort consistently to help grow a cycling community or group. A nurturer and visionary that understands the long-term benefits of her efforts, which add great value to mountain biking. Can be from a range of positions, including administrator, coach, entrepreneur etc.

 Paola Damilano – Highly motivated and passionate about the growth of mountain biking, Paola fills a number of administrative roles including Cycling SA Deputy MTB Director, Gauteng Cycling MTB Chairperson and Central Gauteng Cycling XCO Chairperson. She also ensured the official launch of Enduro in Gauteng by organising the inaugural Sox Footwear Series, which was the official 2021 Gauteng Provincial Enduro Series. Instagram account.


A woman that works in the mountain bike industry – or a related industry – including retail, wholesale, media, product, event etc) that is consistently focussed on growing the women’s segment, either through focussed initiatives or ensuring women are adequately catered for through her consistent efforts.

Nikki Haywood – Nikki is the founder and owner of Trail Angels, an established women’s mountain bike club based in Cape Town. Since 2012, Trail Angels has followed a weekly riding schedule that caters for all levels of rider. Trails Angels also offers skills lessons, kids clinics and women-only mountain biking multi-day escapes. Instagram account.


A woman that stands out in her role as a supporter, coach or motivator in mountain biking. She may be a coach, group leader, event organiser social media influencer or more, but her consistent efforts help to motivate and inspire and her energy adds great value to mountain biking.

Erica Green – Erica competed as an athlete at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games and has been a coach and women’s mountain biking ambassador ever since. Her business, Daisyway Coaching Systems, offers skills coaching for schools and training camps for mountain bikers wanting to complete tough events, like the Absa Cape Epic. Instagram account.


A woman that stands out as an athlete in mountain biking. She would be a successful racer whose consistent commitment sees her produce inspiring results in her category, which could be international, national, regional or even her own age group. She is an inspiration and a great ambassador for the brands she represents.

Candice Lill – Candice Lill was selected to represent South Africa at the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games, where she finished 24th. She had a top 15 finish at a World Cup XCC round and was 11th in the XCC at the World Champs. She won the SA XCO Champs as well as the FNB Wines2Whales, with Mariske Strauss, and was runner-up at the Absa Cape Epic (also with Strauss). Instagram account.


A female under the age of 23 that stands out in any of the four categories here.

Zandri Strydom (20) – Primarily a skilled XCO racer for Team {type}DEV Nano Time, Zandri raced Enduro for the first time in 2021 and not only won the Mpumalanga Enduro Series, but also placed in the top 3 overall at some of the rounds. She also won Round 1 of the Enduro Western Cape Series confirming a bright future in Enduro racing. Instagram account.