Women's cycling is full of impressive characters. Speed demons, wordsmiths, figureheads, household names, business leaders and unsung heroines. A glance through last month’s BikeBiz list of the ‘100 Women of the Year’ was enough to prove that. But there can’t be many more worthy of inclusion on that list, or more passionate and knowledgeable about women’s cycling, than Kirsty Hofat.
Dexter and Kirsty (Dexter's in the basket)
This week, Kirsty left VeloVixen to take on an even greater challenge than working with us (imagine!) – her and Gav’s first baby. We wish them every possible success and happiness. They’ll be amazing parents.
How do we know this? Well, we’ve got to know her and Gav pretty well since early last year. And if the skills Kirsty’s brought to VeloVixen are anything to go on, the new arrival’s in great hands.
We first met Kirsty properly during what became known as our ‘West Wing meeting’ – walking and talking on the way down the echoing corridors of Birmingham’s soul-sapping NEC, en route to 2013’s Cycle Show.
She was a few months into her editorship of Total Women’s Cycling, and already it was well on the way to becoming the largest women’s cycling site in the UK. From a standing start, she’d almost single-handedly created the ‘go to’ site for a passionate crowd. We were a little in awe.
Fast forward to early 2014, when we worked together in creating the inaugural Total Women’s Cycling Awards. The awe-ometer needle edged further into the red, witnessing her endurance, organization, knowledge and patience.
When it became clear shortly after the Awards that the newly married Hofats would be leaving the relentlessness of London for a reduction of pace in the Cotswolds, the VeloVixen foxy ears pricked up. We couldn’t really afford her (not that she was greedy) but… could we afford to miss her? Might she be anywhere near where we were moving to in Oxford?
Well, not exactly near, but what’s a 90 minute commute to a Duracell bunny like Kirsty? And why not throw into the equation new-born labradoodle puppy Dexter – soon to be found doing 15 miles each way as part of the commute in his mum’s new bike trailer.
Dexter and Kirsty soon became lynchpins of the VeloVixen setup. Immediately, Kirsty brought ideas, ideas and more ideas.
But she hasn't just been about theories – she's put plan into practice from the moment she arrived. Very soon the quality of our imagery, blogs, product descriptions, social media, newsletters and in-house banter was improving. We added brands and products and events to our range under her guidance. VeloVixen was making big leaps forward every week.
And she cycles – that commute and Ride London both happened, it turns out, when she was already pregnant. A very Kirsty ability! She tested kit, organised photo shoots, helped create our first catalogue, was integral to building our new site and – perhaps most crucially of all - has kept spirits up whenever they flagged.
We now understand how vital a part of the team she must have been when she and her dad rode 4000 miles around the coast of Britain.
In just two years, in her roles at TWC and VeloVixen, she’s become one of the most respected figures in British women’s cycling.
She’s not without her flaws – her 3.30pm giggles have become increasingly problematic and she developed an alarming habit of riling other drivers on the A40 (admittedly, there aren’t many on that road in full control of their faculties). Plus, her 5.30am rising made us feel deeply inadequate and she's never been very obedient when told to stop working.
But VeloVixen will be much the poorer without her. We have a feeling (and hope) she’ll be back with us in some form in due course. But she has far more important priorities first.
Good luck Kirst – you’re a one-woman phenomenon and you’ll be a top class mum.
Kirsty's All Time Favourite VeloVixen Products
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