Scholarship rider Hetty Niblett's recent blog

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I think I started my last blog post saying it had been a rollercoaster month, but little did I know that was only the start of things!

Unfortunately, I am back in the UK for the moment after a less than ideal 2 months in Belgium. After the chest infection I mentioned in the previous blog post I went on to do two kermesses in Ooike and Zwevezele, neither of which were ideal! I crashed and DNF’d in Ooike (into a grass verge so soft landing luckily!) and Zwevezele had an average temperature of -3! It was really tough racing in those conditions and with world tour riders in the field it was a hard race but I came away finishing 27th/85 riders, so I was pretty happy considering I hadn’t got the best fitness at that time.

The week after Zwevezele kermesse I caught a proper cold, not just a sniffle, but a full on not being able to breathe cold. This meant the best part of a week off the bike for me and yet another setback. At the end of March, I raced a kermesse in Diegem which I had done last year but only lasted 50 minutes! I was nervous because I knew the course didn’t suit me and also knew I’d just got over an illness and my fitness was the lowest it had been since January. I went into the race with an open mind and surprised myself! I finished 29th/90 riders and was happy with how I rode. I kept good positioning throughout the race and gave myself the best chance of doing well. Considering I didn’t even make it through half of the race on the same course last year, I am so happy with 29th.

Then I got a sore throat which came back twice! At this point I just couldn’t believe what was happening, illness after illness, a total of 4 since January! I missed some more races in that time off and then decided it would be good to get a blood test to see what was going on. The results came back that I am deficient in vitamin D, folic acid, iron and my B12 is low too. Vitamin D is directly linked to supporting the immune system and so is iron so although it was a relief that I finally knew what was causing all these illnesses, I couldn’t understand how I got so deficient! I eat a healthy and varied diet and always exceed my 5 fruit and veg a day. The doctor and I concluded that I wasn’t eating enough to support or fuel my body with the large amounts of exercise I was doing. So gradually, along with the illnesses, depleted my body of some of the vital things I need. After this I decided to come home to the UK. It would mean I could be with my family and get better quicker.

I have decided that I am going to focus on time trialling again now I am back in the UK because that is where my strengths lie and where my passion is. Since returning home I have done two 10 mile TT’s and I finished 4th/47 women (massive women’s field which was great!) and I won the time trial I did yesterday! A win always gives you a boost of confidence so that was really good to have. I have entered a 25 mile time trial next week on the 19th May so will be interesting to see if I can remember how to pace them! For the next two months I will be focusing on time trials and then leading up to my main goal of the British Cycling National TT. After that I’ll probably take a break from racing for a few weeks and get a solid training block in before refocusing on the CTT National 25 and 10. Hopefully it’s looking up for me now!