Hi everyone, my name is Hetty Niblett and I am an 18 year old cyclist. I have been riding for Edco Continental women’s team throughout the 2017 season mainly in the UK with some trips to Belgium and Czech Republic too. This past year has been a massive rollercoaster for me juggling my final year of A Levels along with trying my hardest to get some good results in cycling too, no mean feat!
My first race of the season was a Belgian kermesse, my first kermesse and my first time racing in Belgium as an U23, meaning describing it as a ‘shock to the system’ doesn’t even begin do it justice. After that, I struggled through the early season races with less form than I’d like whilst fitting in as much late night, post training revision as my brain could muster. A Level exams came and went which threw me straight into two weeks of stage races and very few nights in my own bed. First was the Tour of the Reservoir women’s national series race, one of my favourites but also one of the hardest on the calendar. I finished 38th overall leaving me happy with my performance. After this weekend was a one day miracle turnaround of washing clothes, kit and bikes and packing for my journey to London and then on to the Czech Republic, the best race of my 2017 season!
The Tour de Feminin based in Krasna Lipa, Czech Republic is a 4 day stage race with 5 stages covering all of the hilly roads and none of the flat ones the Czech Republic has to offer. I went into this race having only ridden one UCI elite women’s race and not having much confidence at all. However, I finished with a fatigue level on Training Peaks I’d only dreamed was possible and a new found confidence in my hill climbing and my ability to hold my own in a UCI peloton. There were so many highs and lows, from finishing 83rd/180 in the time trial to being sent 5km the wrong way, crashing and buckling my wheel, the whole experience was crazy!
After that I had some good form for some UK national races and then onto another kermesse, however I was involved in a nasty crash leading to concussion which ended my season early and I was absolutely gutted. After trying to get back riding I decided to stop and take some time off because I was still suffering concussion symptoms. This time off the bike ended up being extended by the doctor to roughly 6 weeks off the bike, something any cyclist will tell you is so hard to deal with mentally, when all you want to do is what you love…and ride!
So that’s pretty much a full recap of my season just gone! I’m now finally back training and putting in some quality winter miles for next season, more motivated than ever!