Hetty Niblett - End of season update

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As the season is now ending I thought I’d write a final update about my recent racing experiences. As I write this I am currently tucked up in bed and only inclined to move if it’s to make a cup of tea or eat food, and this most definitely means I am on my off season. As much as this is lovely, I would also love to be racing in Ireland at the Rás na mBan, a five-day stage race.

The reason I am having to sit out of this race and unfortunately end my season is that I had a nasty crash a few weeks ago in Belgium. I raced in Heusden on Saturday 12th August and in Emptinne on Sunday 13th. Heusden was a great race for me. I’ve previously not had great success with kermesses as they are more like a crit and the stop start nature of the racing doesn’t tend to suit my time trial style of riding, however I managed to ride well in the bunch and position well meaning I finished in the reduced bunch of 70 ish riders from 160! 

Unfortunately, Emptinne was the race that I crashed in. I was struggling with the course and the fast pace however I was sticking in there at the crucial moments and surprising even myself with my form! With only 30 minutes left of racing I was caught in a crash in the feed zone, flying over another rider and in the process, banging the back of my head on the side of parked van and causing some damage to my bike☹. After this crash I had a banging headache and had written off my helmet but thought nothing else of it at the time...

Training during the week was fine as I only did steady rides but when I came to race in Steenhuize on the following Saturday I felt awful! Right from the start of the race my head was pounding and pressure was building up making it so hard to concentrate and continue riding at that intensity on a flat-out course. This resulted in a big fat DNF… I was absolutely gutted, riding straight past our DS Rene and finding a quiet road to cry to myself. After a few minutes of feeling sorry for myself I spoke to a few people and decided that this could be after affects of concussion from the previous week. After speaking to a doctor since then, she has confirmed this and advised me not to race until the symptoms subside and not to race the following day in Ledegem. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened as quickly as I’d hoped so as I was still getting headaches less than a week before I was meant to be racing in Ireland I decided it would be better to concentrate on getting back to full health and then getting stuck in to winter training. On top of all this, I have recently been diagnosed as iron deficient so this was another contributing factor to calling it a day on my race season and focus on my health.

Although the past few weeks have been challenging, I look back on this season and I am so grateful for all the support from Cycling Time Trials for helping me to gain so much experience as a first year under 23 competing in elite women’s higher level races and without a doubt make me a better rider! I think my season highlight was racing the Tour de Feminin in Czech Republic, my first UCI stage race and I can’t wait to go back next year and hopefully improve on my results. 

Here's a picture of me and Maddie post stage 1 at Tour de Feminin absolutely exhausted!

This season has been made especially tricky because I’ve had to balance studying for my A Levels too but getting A*A*A means I couldn’t be happier! Roll on my gap year…

This is from the Tour of the Reservoir national series race, an amazing performance as a team!
Here are some other favourite pictures from the season.