Helen Wyman, who last month won her tenth British national cyclo-cross title, has raised more than £2,500 through crowdfunding, with the money to be used to pay for up to 100 women aged under 23 to enter next year’s championships.
On her page on Just Giving, the 36-year-old, who won her first national title in the discipline in 2006 and is currently ranked fifth in the world, explained why she wanted to help young riders through the initiative she has called The Helen 100.
“I’ve always been fortunate enough to be able to race when I’ve wanted to, but over the years I’ve been racing there are certainly more financial pressure on riders and their support networks,” she wrote.
“One of the huge appeals of cyclo-cross has always been its accessibility, and hopefully this can be a small part of keeping it that way.”
Her fundraising appeal is linked to a raffle, with every £10 donated allowing one entry, and prizes including a signed jersey and autographed world championship race numbers, among other things.
“I’m doing this for various reasons, but primarily to try to help a group of riders from which we see a huge fall out rate from the sport,” Wyman said.
“In the UK we have an immensely talented pool of riders in cyclo-cross, and this year’s U23 team headed to the World Championships are such a strong group” – an opinion confirmed at the weekend when Evie Richards won the rainbow jersey for the second time in three years.
“I’d like to help in a tiny way to offset the cost for the riders, or their parents in paying for this one event.
“It’s not long until we will have a Junior World Championships which will be another huge step towards true equality in cyclo-cross.
“Research has shown that young women in the 16-23 age group leave sport at a higher rate than any other group which is why i have chosen them.
“What sport can give these young women in confidence, drive, passion at such an informative age is really important to me.
“This isn't just about getting riders to a race, it’s about building a group of young riders who grow together through their common interests.
“There always seems to be an annual debate about participation numbers in women’s cross, compared to those in men’s racing.
“I hope this small act can help change this in the future, as a tiny stepping-stone.
“There are many other ways I hope to help as well, but one thing at a time,” Wyman added.
“I’m aware the smallest field in women’s racing was in fact the Elite women at this year’s National Championships.
“It might seem sensible with that in mind to provide a helping hand directly to that category, but my thoughts are we should be focused on keeping riders in the sport from youth through to U23 and therefore naturally boost the elite field over time,” she concluded.
Later this month, Wyman will be talking at Look Mum No Hands on London’s Old Street.
The café and bike workshop sponsors her and the talk, which takes place on Thursday 22 February from 7pm - 9pm, is free to attend, although places need to be booked through Eventbrite.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.