Fran, our longest serving VeloVixen, has become something of a cult heroine through her unrivalled breadth of cycling experience and her amazing ways of helping and advising other cyclists.
Quite simply: you won't anyone with a more generous, straight-talking knowledge of cycling and all its facets.
So every week we're asking her for a Top Tip. This could be a new piece of cycling kit that she loves, but it could equally be a gripping book, a breathtaking route through the Dolomites (or Chilterns), or her latest favourite gin.
She assures us that she's worth paying attention to - we reckon you might agree!
July 10th 2020
My jersey of the summer
"I've been recovering from my recent fall whilst things at VV Towers have been going a bit nuts with the re-arrival of our 2020 range. It seems there was a bit of demand for it, to say the least!
It gave me the chance to think about what I like about wearing our own jerseys, and which design is my favourite. The great thing about the Bioracer factory, where they are made, is that their pedigree in creating performance cycling gear is second to none - they make gear for plenty of the teams in the pro pelotons, both male and female, which speak volumes.
The cut and fit are great - figure hugging but with enough stretch in the fabric to keep the jersey comfortable and flattering. I'm a UK size 8 and reliably wear an X-Small.
The four (yes, four!) pockets are positioned so as to let you get at them easily,, including the handy zipped one. The laser-cut sleeves make for a really flattering finish - avoiding any hint of 'sausage arm' that some finished hems will create!
They wash well time and again, and the little details like a zip protector and having no itchy labels make them truly comfy.
And which design have I been pining for most from my sofa?
OK - my secret is out - I have a secret penchant for the Kia Ora (above). Those colours just work so incredibly together - and look fab with the shorts - which have proved to me that there's more to life than bibshorts!
July 3rd 2020
Don't fall off
Fran's been 'off games' this week. And with good reason.
Sunday saw her first major mishap on a bike in (she tells us from her sick bed) 27 years of serious cycling. Which, when you think about it, is a pretty good hit rate.
But when you hear about the multiple stitches in her elbow, beaten up knee and go-faster stripes/road rash down most of one side, we'd probably all rather it happened less often still!
Needless to say, we haven't seen her at VV Towers this week, but she tells us she was riding on gravel and simply lost the front wheel - such an easy thing to happen for any of us, even the most experienced.
The good news is that she avoided the 110kg gent riding on her wheel.
Her tip, as she convalesces in a gently sun-dappled sanatorium on the banks of Lake Como*, is to go gently on the handlebars and brakes when you're riding on loose surfaces - let the bike find its way rather than snatching at it. 'Let it run'. You can still come unstuck, but it will help your chances and aid your control of the bike.
Get well soon, Fran - we need you to rejoin the ranks of the Vixens ASAP, when we'll be presenting you with an honorary pair of stabilisers.
* She claims to be sitting on her sofa at home...
June 26th 2020
A Midlife Cyclist (Rachel Ann Cullen)
"This book was recommended to me by friend of VeloVixen Jeni Sanderson. Jeni is (among other things!) a positive change consultant and fanatical cyclist and really recommended this.
"There's something for all of us in this - whether you've suffered experiences similar to Rachel's or simply love cycling, you'll be engrossed.
"She taps into emotions that so many of us can relate to, from depression to body dismorphia, or simply the mental toll that learning that your running days are over can take.
"But rising above the hardship is an inspiring tale of how cycling can be a crutch, an inspiration, a way to see new places, make new friends and achieve new things you never thought possible.
"I found it a reminder of the pure, energising joy that cycling can bring. I think you will too."
You can buy A Midlife Cyclist (and support independent bookshops) here.