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“When I’m on my bike off road my brain switches into a totally different gear. It’s calmer, less busy and happier - even when I’m really pushing myself. I love being in that headspace and the sense of escape it gives me.

Whether I’m riding with others or solo, there’s a real sense of belonging that comes with being totally immersed in the outdoors in this way. It’s a real privilege and something, no matter how many times I head out, I feel very lucky to have found"

Tell us about yourself, and where you are from?

My name is Hetty, I’m based in the Peak District, UK and love riding bikes off road, type 2 fun, café stops, clashing colours, and being overly optimistic about how much I can fit into a day! You can typically find me faffing with climbing gear, swimming in icy rivers, running up hills, exploring new trails on my bike or doing one of my favourite pastimes - staring at maps and plotting new routes!

What's your back story, and how did you get into the outdoors and your particular discipline?

I’ve always loved being outdoors, but only really got into things properly once I’d left university. I went from 0 to 100 - climbing, mountain biking, fell running... If it was outside and involved mountains I was in!

There was a lot of trial and error to start and I learnt a lot of lessons the hard way. I wasn’t the sporty or athletic type at school, but I felt like I’d finally found my ‘thing’ - endurance and trying hard. In a similar way gravel riding came about by accident… I cycled to work a lot but generally wasn’t a fan of riding on roads so brought a bike that could do both.

At that point in time, I’m not even sure it was being marketed as a gravel bike! However, I was already into mountain biking and loved the transition to a faster (slightly more precarious) style of riding, especially on the rough stuff, alongside the fact I could get a lot further in one ride!

Which trips, expeditions, or achievements are you most proud of? 

When it comes to big adventures, I like to bite off more than I can chew and am rather fond of type-two fun! Over the years, I’ve moved away from quite so many races and events in favor of taking on personal challenges or exploring new routes - be that on my bike, on foot or on the end of a rope. Some highlights include riding beautiful 400 mile loop bikepacking around Slovenia, plotting a very obscure but fun route for Dead Ends & Cake, ski touring in Kazakhstan and attempting the Highland Trail 550 in the worst weather imaginable (this one’s maybe only a highlight in hindsight)!

Tell us a little bit about your life outside of gravel riding? 

Away from work and races, I just enjoy getting outside and exploring my local area. I also absolutely love showing the places and routes I love to other people - it brings me so much joy. This is one of the main reasons I love being an organiser of Peak Gravel Gang - we’re a fun, friendly group of riders open to anyone that wants to meet likeminded folk and ride off-road.

My work is a combination of research and events. I am passionate about positive change and improving the accessibility and inclusivity of the outdoors.

My research is centered around mental wellbeing, participation and inclusivity. Then on the events side, I combine the findings within my research with my love of logistics. I am one of the directors of the sell-out climbing festival Women's Trad Festival and Operations Director for The World Relay where we recently organised a continuous, 24/7 human-powered relay called Running Out of Time. This travelled from COP26 in Glasgow to COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh to deliver an important message on climate change to world leaders. All in all I love what I do and it’s safe to say no day is the same!

Notable Achievements

  • 50km PB of 3 hours 29 minutes

  • Competed in the Elite category at the 2021 Golden Trail Series

  • Bennachie Ultra 3rd place