When seven-time British national champion Helen Wyman approached the finishing straight of 2012’s European Cyclocross Championships in Ipswich, the crowd’s roar was deafening. Wyman grew up near this small English town where the local fans were now ecstatically cheering for their hometown hero. When Wyman shot around Dutch sensation Sanne Van Paassen on the short hill to the finish line, the crowd erupted. So did Wyman. Beaming with a smile wider than the English Channel, Wyman crossed the finish line half a bike length ahead of Van Paassen. But it’s a career highlight that almost didn’t happen. Had life events played out differently 11 years earlier, Wyman may have never focused on cyclocross.

In 2001, at the age of 19, Wyman enrolled into the University of Hertfordshire to study physiotherapy, a demanding program that required summer work placements. Suddenly the British bike racer, who had been racing road and mountain bikes since the age of 14, was faced with a harsh reality. Her summers were consumed with school, preventing her from road racing. Rather than quit bike racing and surrender, however, Wyman explored a new option. More over at CX Magazine.