Crowdfunding the 'cross racers of the future
Helen Wyman has never been content to rest on her extensive laurels; she’s taken nine national championship titles, two European championship titles, sits on the UCI Cyclocross Commission, has launched her own team (Xypex-Verge Sport) and has been a tireless campaigner for equality in her chosen sport of cyclocross. Her newest endeavour however brings a new approach to helping the next generation of athletes into the sport.
Wyman has launched a crowdfunding campaign with the aim of raising a modest £2,500 to cover the entry costs to the UK National Championships in 2019 for up to 100 female riders.
Aptly called ‘The Helen 100‘, the project is on the KickStarter website and, at time of publication, is already halfway to achieving its goal.
So what motivated Wyman to start a campaign to directly fund race admission costs?
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
On the crowdfunding page, Wyman shares that she’s always been fortunate to race when she’s wanted to, but that there are now more financial pressures on riders, and their support networks, to race than ever before. “One of the huge appeals of cyclocross has always been its accessibility, and hopefully this can be a small part of keeping it that way,” she continues.
Wyman has chosen to support women riders because research shows that women in the 16–23 age group leave sport at a higher rate than any other group, and working towards equality in cycling is one of her main goals.
Longer term, Wyman believes that focussing on younger riders will help deal with the leaky pipeline that sees women leaving the sport at this critical point, meaning that further down the line the number of elite women will grow as these young women progress.
What’s in it for backers?
Apart from the satisfaction and warm glow of helping grow the sport, give budding riders a helping hand, raising the profile of cyclocross and encouraging more young women into a sport that promotes personal growth, community, physical activity and confidence, backers also have the chance to win themselves some prizes… what’s not to like!
Each £10 pledged gets an entry into what is effectively a raffle, with each further £10 gaining another entry. The list of prizes is growing and currently includes a signed jersey, two pairs of Horst cyclocross spikes, two Helen Wyman mugs, two ‘Kind Helen’ T-shirts, two Verge Sport swag bags, a signed World Champs race numbers, and two Challenge Tyres swag bags.
This campaign is by no means the extent of Wyman’s plans for growing cyclocross and supporting more young women in cycling. As she says herself: “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.”
You can find out more and donate to the fund via the JustGiving crowdfunding page.