Helen 100
Women in Cycling

Get To Know Helen Wyman and Learn All About the Helen100 Foundation

By: Katherine Santos  October 07, 2021

In an effort to increase participation in Cyclocross, the Helen100 Foundation is paying for entry fees for Junior Women in all UCI USCX series races.

1. Why did you start the Helen100?
A couple of years ago at the National Championships in Britain, the U23/Junior Women had their own race for the first time. The number of riders in the Elite Women's race was really low and it got me thinking, why? How can we have so many great Under 14 riders yet the Elite field is tiny. What is the reason that so many young riders don’t stay in this amazing sport? So my husband and I tried to think of a way to create a bit of excitement around the Junior Women's racing. At the time when a female racer turned 16yrs old, they are automatically an Elite and have to race the very best Elite riders in the world and this is never going to help with retention. So we created a way to make Junior Women's racing happen before the UCI had it on their agenda to do so.

2. Tell us a little bit about your background in cycling.
I started racing when I was 14yrs old as my brother wanted to race and at the time I wanted to do everything he did. When I was at University I only had time in the Winter to ride a bike as I was doing my work placements through the Summer holidays so I decided, having tried pretty much everything, that cross would be fun. So I joined a team, borrowed a bike and the rest is history. In my 15yr career, I won 78 professional races, 10 national titles, 2 European titles, and a medal at the World Championships. I was always great at muddy or hard races and loved the thrill of being able to push hard on a bike and use my skills to achieve things

3. This year you are offering to cover reg fees for junior women, what would be your best piece of advice for someone who is thinking about racing, but is a little nervous to sign up?
I would say “what have you got to lose?” Cyclocross is such a fun sport. It isn’t about the result, it's about pushing your limits, learning new things, and having fun. There are very few forms of racing where nobody knows if you are winning or 4 laps down, you can get dropped and have a lonely ride, there is always someone to battle. Cross is the best so just try it and see what happens.

4. Which races will be covered for Junior Women this season?
The Junior Women's races are Rochester, Kings CX, Jingle Cross, and Charm City.

5. What are your hopes and dreams for your organization?
The organization has been running for 4 years now. Originally it was simply to encourage junior women to stay in the sport, but it grew so quickly and supported so many Juniors we kept it running for longer than we had ever planned. The idea was for it to come to a natural conclusion at the world cross championships in the USA this season. This season sees the first official Junior Women's UCI category in C1/C2 races alongside a World Cup which would have started last season. There are now Championships across Nationals, Europe, and the World for Junior Women and we always felt this is where the regulators of our sport should take over. As such as it stands it will come to an end at the end of this season. This year as we had a budget allocated for last season but were unable to use it, it would make sense to support the growth of the USA scene. I have spent many many months racing in America and really wanted my final action to be in the cross scene which I have benefitted massively from being a part of.

6. As a professional bike racer, what would you tell to a Junior Woman who is considering trying Cyclocross?
I would say, give it a go, meet people, make friends, smile, and if you catch the bug like the rest of us it truly is a sport for life. The scene is so friendly and encouraging that you will never want to leave it.

7. Do you have a quote that you live by? Something that might inspire a future professional bike racer?
Always keep learning. Never close your mind to the opportunity to learn, however, if it doesn’t work for you, move on, find more learning opportunities and continue to grow in your own way, not how other people tell you you should.

Helen Wyman has been an inspiration to bike racers from all over the world for many years. We felt privileged to have the opportunity to sit down with her and learn all about her foundation. If you are a Junior Woman and are interested in trying Cyclocross, we encourage you to give it a try! As a reminder - Juniors receive a free USA Cycling race license until they are 18. Click here to learn more.