The Dave Rayner Fund

Creating opportunities far beyond cycling

The Dave Rayner Fund has developed a vast number of professional cyclists over the years. Just as importantly it has helped develop many valuable members of society.

Being a racing cyclist is not for everyone. Being a cyclist IS for everyone. We find that most cyclists that have lived and raced abroad as young people are more likely to maintain the health, social and wellbeing benefits of using the bicycle throughout their lives.

Many of our supported riders have become Professional Riders, earning a living from riding their bikes. This is the dream of most cyclists who fall in love with the sport as a young person. Many of them have become Champions. National, European, World, Commonwealth and Olympic. This level of achievement brings many benefits. Fame, money, a sense of personal achievement.

On the other hand, not every rider that travels abroad at the age of 18 becomes successful in this measurable way.  Not every rider is ‘successful’ at cycling but what we want encourage is success at life. We want to help produce valued members of society and happy people.

The Dave Rayner Fund usually provides a young person the means to travel abroad, set up home and function on a day to day to basis. This assistance is financial but also takes the form of advice, mentoring and mental support. This internship as a cyclist opens up a whole new raft of opportunities and put riders in a position to progress themselves further in life. Being open and able to take in such experiences on and off the bike abroad widens the mind and the riders can begin a journey into the world, becoming more well-rounded and experienced. This experience of living, racing and training abroad is unique and at times a great challenge, it presents a person with a variety of situations to deal with, it also gives a person a perspective on how the world in and out of the sport works. Often at times brutal and stark it is balanced by great positive experiences and shows the merit and reward of hard work. The people you meet during this time, create new pathways and gives you a network of people to connect with across the globe. It’s special in this sense as you’re exposed to some of the most successful people in our society, united by the same thing, cycle racing.

The Fund is a fine example of how strong a community can be, the fruits of that community are the riders themselves and the lives they lead after. Many will indeed go on to become professional cyclist, others have found new roads in the likes of journalism, design and business. Importantly, many of them also complete the circle by encouraging the young people that come after them.

There are many fine examples of riders flourishing in their time after their cycling career.

David Miller was one of the first people to be supported. He went to France to live and race as an 18 year old. His cycling career was long and not without controversy.  Since retirement he has become an author and journalist, a broadcaster and a clothing designer. He is regularly seen on TV as part of the ITV Tour de France coverage each year.

Jamie Burrows was supported between the years of 1997 – 1999 while he lived in Italy. As professional cyclist he rode for the top professional team in its era. He is now Head of Design and product development at Ribble Cycles, a leading bike brand in the UK.

A similar story is shared by Yanto Barker. Funded in the early 2000’s he went onto have a long career as professional. After that he set up a hugely successful cycle wear company Le Col. He has turned the tables and now supports young cyclists himself by sponsoring teams and events.

He says “I learnt that there are a lot of similarities between being a professional cyclist and starting a business. Being an entrepreneur is about crossing what look like ‘uncrossable’ gaps in the pursuit of progress. It’s about chasing down the breaks and taking the risks that no one else is willing to take. It’s about leaving nothing ‘out there’ at the end of the day and going home knowing that you did everything you could to be the very best that you could be. It’s about believing in yourself, even when others around you may doubt you.”

These parallels are something that occurs quote naturally in the sport itself and with Rayner Funding riders are able to get to grip with both basic principles of business and those in life. It provides a solid grounding of which to learn from and creates an environment that encourages competitive excellence. 

Several riders have gone onto to manage cycling teams One of those names is Tom Southam an early fundee. As a young rider he spent time in Italy and Holland, he later went onto sign for continental and world tour teams. He now finds himself as a Directeur Sportif for one of the top teams in the world EF Education First Pro Cycling Team.

Tom has always had talent for written work and has featured in International magazines such as Rouleur. He even wrote a feature on Dave Rayner and the Fund.

Charly Wegelius shares a similar background to Tom, both in Italy as young riders, both professionals with long careers, both now in managerial roles at World Tour level Professional cycling.

Tom and Charly are so close that they collaborated on a book “DOMESTIQUE: The True Life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro” which chronicles the life of a professional cyclist. Read more about it here.

Another individual who has thrived is Tom Barras. He owns and runs a successful coaching company which has world champions on the roster. His most recent and highest profile venture is the invention, design, production and marketing of SPATZWEAR. This product has become a huge success within the cycling industry and have been hailed as one the best inventions in cycle wear within the past 20 years, worn by professionals and amateurs alike. As a young rider Tom was able  develop a base of people to call upon which would prove more the useful in years to come, a network that most in big business would be envious of. 

Dan Lloyd was Professional Cyclist for almost 10 years and has gone on to become a Broadcaster with well renowned online platform GCN and Eurosport.

Matt Brammeier has recently taken up the National Team Managers role for the GB National Team and will be the man behind the Team at next years Olympic Games.

Ryan Bonser a young rider who went to France has now developed a successful career as Mechanic for Team Ineos. A skilled job for one of the most demanding sports teams in the world.

Two riders who received funding in more recent times, Josh Cunningham and Dan Stewart, are now active in the environment of the written word.

Josh is a published author, his book ‘Escape by Bike’ explores the cycling touring all over the world and the experiences that come with it. He has gone onto to have a sterling freelance career and has worked at magazines such as internationally published ‘Cyclist’. He found his love of writing during his time on The Dave Rayner Fund, and looked to explore it much more after leaving the racing side of the sport.

Dan Stewart moved to Journalism, and in his most recent work has written an amazing article for the Irish Times exploring riding the border in Ireland.

I am sure the hard-working attitude cultivated through their time on the bike and indeed while on The Dave Rayner Fund has and will serve them well for many more years to come. 

I know that this is true as I am experiencing this benefit myself. I went abroad to Belgium to race for several years on and off. My career has not reached the top but I am now enjoying new experiences racing for fun back in the UK.  More recently I am more than grateful for the chance to work with some of the worlds top English speaking cycling journalists. Last year I was able to assist in the production of a series of podcast episodes for ‘The Cycling Podcast’ alongside a fellow former Dave Rayner Funded rider Keira McVitty.

These contacts have been simple and easy in some respects to obtain thanks to Dave Rayner Fund and prestige it carries within the cycling community. Without the fund I would have been at a lost not only financially but also culturally and socially. The people I have met and have access to was only possible through being in the right place and right time thanks again to the fund, obviously it is not without hard work but that was always supported by those around me also involved or supported by the fund.  It has now progressed me to a point where I have the confidence and ability to set up my own means of self-sufficiency through writing and other freelance work. The experience in the bike and in racing has led me to take on responsibilities and pass my knowledge and experience on to my local community, which is a pleasure and a privilege. My future has been aided no end by the Fund and I look forward to what the rest of my career in cycling holds. I forever be thankful for The Dave Rayner Fund. 

All of those people mentioned above obtained a set of skills and ways of working only found via process of becoming a full-time cyclist. A solid work ethic, perseverance, everyday problem solving and setting then achieving goals are all qualities whether you are self-employed or entering a traditional place of work. It is also worth noting that many if not all of those mentioned have learnt at a minimum one other foreign language which makes them already one step ahead in the world, especially coming from the UK. A skill that cannot be overlooked. 

The Dave Rayner Fund has and will continue to provide the ultimate opportunity of being able to follow your dreams. Not only that it has allowed people to grow into who they should be and afford them the time to explore and better themselves. In essence making them more well-rounded individuals, who can then drive forward into the future with confidence, tackling any challenge head on. Whatever industry or path a former rider chooses they are able have faith in what made them who they through their time on The Dave Rayner Fund. 

Written by Calvert Churchill.