The Dave Rayner Fund celebrated its 20th anniversary last Saturday with a gala dinner attended by cycling luminaries including 2014 UCI Women’s World Cup Champion, Lizzie Armitstead, David Millar, and Russ and Dean Downing.
The fund supports young riders taking their first steps toward a professional career. One of the riders it helped this year was road.cc bike and gear tester Liam Glen, who was in Leeds for the dinner.
Liam says: "The dinner was a fitting way to mark the fund's 20th Anniversary and celebrate the impact it's had on so many young cyclists.
"It's amazing to think that some of the first recipients of support such as David Millar are now retiring after many years at the top level, just as the next crop of riders are making the step up into the pro ranks.
"From the looks of things, everyone was enjoying themselves and plenty of money was raised to support riders going into 2015
Thanks to support from the fund, Liam was able to take a year out from studying to race in Europe this year, something he says he could not have done otherwise.
He says: "On a personal level, the fund was invaluable to me as a rider on the Belgium amateur scene.
"Putting my studies on hold to pursue this dream was a big decision, and one that wouldn't have even been on the table if it weren't for the fund's support.
"By providing a bit of financial security, it means that riders can focus more on training and racing without having to worry about how they're going to pay for next week's groceries.
"The feeling of being part of something bigger, and the success of previously funded riders, was a great motivator when things weren't going well.
The fund is named for Yorkshire cyclist Dave Rayner, whose early career included a spell racing in Italy for the G.S.Porcari-Fanini-Berti Team, starting when he was just 17. He went on to win the won the 1990 Scottish Provident Criterium Series and in 1991 moved to the Netherlands, aged 24, to ride for Buckler under former world champion Jan Raas
Rayner died in 1994 after an altercation with a nightclub bouncer. The cycling community wanted to support his memory by giving other young riders the chance to follow in his path and since then over £600,000 in grants have been given to young riders to enable them to race abroad. They have included David Millar, one of the very first recipients, through to more recent champions like Adam Yates.
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.