Walking into the shop Race and Road in Archerfield, Queensland the first thing I noticed, apart from the humungous range of fabulously coloured motorcycle gear, is a slim and attractive lady with so much energy radiating from her.
I was a little overwhelmed to be honest, by the excitement of it all, as I really am a country bumpkin at heart and the city, any city, terrifies me. I was way outta my comfort zone! But, because I was going past, I had to check it out and have a yarn with the boss lady.
This is Lisa Campbell, Chocolate Eating Officer, aka CEO of Race and Road… a motorcycle gear SUPERstore and General Manager of Ricondi… the company founded just over 11 years ago by her partner Andrew Smart. Ricondi manufactures most of the motorcycle apparel they sell; Andrew and Lisa are exceedingly proud of the exceptional quality and popularity of this remarkable brand. Together, they are the force behind these two names.
I’d left Bendigo at 4:00 that morning and flown into Brisbane on my way to Ipswich, to pick up a second-hand Suzuki M109R that I’d bought from a fella off the internet. Occasionally, I had also shopped over the internet with Race and Road and saw some marketing about it so started following Lisa as a person of interest.
With her connections in the bike world and being a businesswoman in a fairly male-dominated industry, I thought she just may have a story to tell… I wondered, how it all came to be and any obstacles overcome along the way. So we arranged to meet.
Well, I wasn’t disappointed, as she has a cool story or few to tell, but before I get to them, I gotta say I was utterly blown away by the magnitude of snazzy, colourful options surrounding me from floor level through to head level and stretching above. Ordinarily, when one walks into a motorbike gear shop they’re confronted with black-on-black and loads of it… but not here! There was so much colour, as far as I could see…
I was like a kid in a candy store; I wanted it all. Didn’t matter in the slightest that I don’t even ride a race bike, but hey maybe I’ll drag race again one day so I’ll definitely need a cool outfit for that.
The largest range in the Southern Hemisphere of full-piece racing suits splashed with every colour of the rainbow covers about half of their entire wall space. There are pants and jackets, boots and gloves and OMG the helmet range… if you wanted to be kitted out from scratch, head to toe in sassy, unique designs and colours, to ride your bike down the road or the race track, this is unquestionably the most, cool-as-shit-bike-gear–paradise, ever!
Remember those days when we used to ride around in shapeless gear that didn’t fit and we looked super daggy? Well, those times have long gone coz there is something to fit even the most wonderous shaped bod, from Lisa’s distinctive collection. If it’s outta stock, she seems to have the power to get it in stock, in your size, colour and style.
Not only do they have stuff for the body, but they also do a bit for the bike as well.
Out the back, there was a whole lot of other activity going down. “We do tyres, chains, sprockets and brake pads.” But wait there’s more… there is even an alteration service for the garments, all done on an old-school singer sewing machine. Very cool!
Lisa is so zestful, in her job and why not, she gets to work with the ones she loves, her partner Andrew and two dogs, Popcorn and Tully… though not too sure how much work the furballs materialise. She gets to do a job within an industry she has so much enthusiasm for, in work and play… the perfect mix!
She has an abundance of ideas; her main focus is customer satisfaction.
“It’s all about getting the right fit… and we are pretty intense when it comes to safety gear.”
Lisa’s sharp eye for detail has her looking over a body, sussing out the client’s personality and shape and choosing the right size and colours the first time.
Coming from 22 years of corporate world marketing, communications and events, when, as a side gig, Lisa would occasionally pop into the bike shop, then called Ricondi – Race and Road, that Andrew ran and help him out. “I helped out initially in the store, whilst also working crazy hours in the corporate world,” she explained. “As the popularity of the products increased we realised there was a need for a Superstore… so Race and Road was born.”
Lisa was behind the logo design, website and billboards, yet still working the corporate deal; she’d not yet pictured herself having a major role in the store. An inspirational moment though, following a traumatic event had her knowing where she belonged… it was goodbye corporate career, hello motorcycle life!
Ms CEO of Race and Road and Ms General Manager of Ricondi!
This gal sure doesn’t do anything by halves.
Firstly though, a little reversing… Lisa arrived on the bike scene in 2012 and over the last 10 years witnessed loads of changes and improvements, yet there was not much refinement in women’s apparel. Back then there was mainly just men’s gear to fit into and no real expertise with the fitting of protective gear; helmet fit was just potluck. “A woman’s image is important to her and there should be no need to sacrifice looks and fit to achieve safety whilst riding. Six months into my riding, I felt frumpy in my gear, I had no shape, the helmet kept moving around… I even shoved a tea towel into the top of my helmet to help it fit better.”
In 2019, Lisa started on the racing circuit, attending most of the tracks nationally on her Ducati Monster 696. “I enjoyed doing that whole racing circuit.” As a kid though, she had no interest in riding. Lisa grew up around speedway, her dad taking her to the sprint cars, from when she was a baby… which is possibly where she gets her need for speed from. “I blame my dad for my revheadness,” she laughs. “He never approved of me riding and I was the first in the family to get my licence; now the love of bikes has been spread to other family members, even mum, who initially was dead set against bikes!”
“My current collection consists of a KLX 250 dirt bike, my Ducati Monster 696 race bike, a Suzuki GXR 600… my favourite, a bike for big tracks is my KTM RC 390 and I have a mini motorbike, a Yamaha R15; “I think that’s all my bikes… yeah, but I get bike envy all the time, from Andrew with more bikes than him,” Lisa laughs.
Hasn’t all been sweet-smelling roses though as Lisa was involved in a car accident, which put her outta action for a long while. “I had a wake-up call, in 2016, with a bad car accident. I had a broken pelvis, damaged upper back plus other injuries that kept me hospital bound for over a month, then two years of recovery. I had to learn to walk again and I couldn’t drive my car because of flashbacks.”
Previously, she’d been doing crazy hours, burning the candle both ends in her corporate life, so the accident slowed all that down. Making the motorcycle business full-time was then a no-brainer.
“The opportunity presented with such an easy transition, I was like, relieved… I can combine my passion and my life… and I can bring my dogs to work. We’ve got so much better life-work balance.”
Although she wasn’t ready to drive, there was no fear when getting back on the bike!
When she started racing, her family were horrified. “My family were freaking like, you just had the worst accident, we’re lucky that you’re still here and you want to go motorcycle racing?” Possibly riding was all Lisa could do while she was still dealing with the aftereffects of the accident.
“I didn’t tell many people about my accident. I’m always the bubbly, happy one and for a while, I probably wasn’t happy; I was going through PTSD. I had so much stuff going on and it wasn’t until I spoke very loosely about my accident, I started getting better. I don’t have any issues now and can talk about it, but I realise when I tell my story it actually helps women who have come off their bikes, to get back on. I think it helps people in different ways.”
For Lisa, riding is a release; “It’s my block out, no one can get a hold of me… it’s the best therapy. I purposely don’t listen to music. I have nothing I want. That’s my switch-off. I love that.”
Also in 2019, Lisa and Andrew opened their superstore. Everything was looking sweet, then Covid hit!
For any business classed as non-essential… to have survived that hit after just opening says a lot for their commitment and adaptability. They persevered and all was going along wonderfully… but whammo, along came the 2022 floods.
Lisa and Andrew were at the Phillip Island racing whilst watching the waters rising at their Queensland store, via their shop security cameras.
“All the alerts were on and Sunday morning at 4:00 am we called our staff and put a post on social media for a truck so we could evacuate the store.”
Within the hour, they had an amazing turnout of volunteers who got most of the stock out, while the water lapped at the door. “We had asked to get everything out they could and dumped it all at a friend’s place. There was also a heap of gear shoved onto the mezzanine level in the last-minute mad rush before the helpers evacuated due to the rising waters. All we could do was watch it from the street cams.”
After a couple of days, the temperatures were rising and with the water still sitting in the shop, the 1,000s of dollars worth of racing suits up on the mezzanine would not survive enclosed heat, dampness and resultant mould, so Lisa and crew ended up jumping in a little tinny and boating it through the streets, to the store, to rescue those suits. “We went right through the front door and did four boatloads.”
“Overall, we saved 80% of our main stock”
Why? Why did they not just let insurance cover it? The time it would have taken for the amount of those suits to be manufactured and transported simply wasn’t an option.
As soon as the waters subsided from the shop, another call was put out; “Right at 9:00 am next day, anyone who wants to be here to help clean stuff, we’re gonna hose it out.” And people just came and helped.
Again, why? Why not let insurance cover it? The time it would have taken for the insurance companies to get through the 100s of 1,000s of insurance claims their doors would still be shut.
When I visited the store in August, the neighbouring shops, both sides of Race and Road were still shut, from the March flooding.
That tenacity, focus and hard yakka paid off and although they lost some stock, it was minimal; they were back up and running within days of cleanup.
What awesome team and community work!
So business as normal now for a while hopefully… natural disasters, plagues and other uncontrollable events be gone! Lisa is proud of the reputation they have built; the extra work they’ve dedicated to the racetrack community, supporting juniors and females who tackle the track days.
So did I see anything I liked in there? Mmmmmmm, let’s just say I left $1,000 lighter in the purse… yeah ok, I couldn’t help myself, with the new bike and all; I needed a colour-coordinated jacket and there were these real sassy-looking damn jeggings that I just had to have and…
Signed photo credit to Endorphin Media