Category: Litas

Girl Torque.cc: Empowering Women Who Ride

We love #womenwhoride and have joined forces with Fabienne Phillips, Founder of Girl Torque.cc to bring her unique services to the Illawarra. Fabienne offers personalised motorbike training, advice and support for women.

Girl Torque cc

When did you start motorcycling?

I was fortunate enough to have a city and country upbringing. My first ride was on a 49.9cc peddle to start, French mobylettle that my mother inherited from my grandmother. I was around 12 years old, I distinctly remember riding it up and down our long gravel driveway and loving it. Opportunities came about now and then to paddock-bash on friend’s properties with bigger motorcycles. The greatest advantage being off road; it allowed me to focus on how to operate the bike and challenge myself as I got more confident. I still have the Mobylette to this day! In all its simplicity (now lovingly restored) it is a reminder of my childhood and family history.

What drives your passion for riding?

Throughout my bike riding journey, I’ve experienced many incredible places. Riding has opened up my world. You are always learning when you are riding a motorcycle and I have a passion to continue to learn and hone my skills. Training my students and assisting them in managing their risks and ultimately avoiding an accident gives me great satisfaction. There are many reasons I continue my passion, I love the empowerment, freedom, individualism and adrenalin that controlling a machine gifts. Most of all, I enjoy being in the moment.

How did Girl Torque.cc begin?

Interestingly, it was my own journey that prompted the founding of Girl Torque.cc. As a woman I felt I just wasn’t catered for. I wanted to be submersed in a male dominated industry, I felt discouraged and a little uncomfortable at times throughout the process. I started to identify a bit of a pattern and I thought to myself, how many other women are experiencing the same thing? After I got my L’s my partner stepped in to teach me. He taught me heaps and I’m so grateful but communicating was not easy at times and boy oh boy we had some arguments! From that day, I was on a mission to create a business that I could transform the way female motorbike riders feel and act on the road through access to individually tailored rider training. I want to fuel women’s motorbike wanderlust, help them discover the perfect bike, equip them with the right gear and help find their unique on-road look. Although the business is small, Girl Torque.cc is now Australia’s first integrated motorcycle training organisation, singularly focused on women who ride.

Fabienne Phillips Girl Torque cc

How do you help learner riders?

For women who want to pursue motorcycling, they are required to complete a series of training courses and tests at selected RMS endorsed companies prior to training with Girl Torque.cc. When it comes to embarking on training out on public roads, I understand that the level of thrill, excitement and fear will be different from others. There is a lot to cover in the 2-day learners’ course with little time spent on the open road; the thought of tackling busy streets alone, paired with lack of confidence can be quite overwhelming for some taking the next step. A few of my clients literally have their new bike sitting in their garage and are too afraid to venture out on the road.

I want to completely understand each student’s journey. After filling out the contact form on my website, the first thing I like to do is have a chat on the phone, to hear about their own experiences, fears and challenges. These can all be different and are extremely important in moving forward. This is followed by a short questionnaire.

Breaking down the tasks in an environment that they feel safe and progressing at their pace is key to progression. The great thing about my business is that I come to my students, hence decreasing their level of anxiety from the very beginning. I will take them step-by-step and show the best way to navigate bike operation and safely navigating the roads – even the initial challenges of getting their bike out of the garage or driveway. In cases where my students don’t have a bike, I can also help sourcing their new found joy!

Where do you offer your services?

I am mainly teaching in the Sydney metro area. I have taught students as far north as Newcastle and in the Illawarra region. In these cases, outside the Sydney metro area I have to apply travel time. The best alternative is a group session, so the additional travel costs are reduced amongst the group.

Girls Torque.cc LAMS Service

Is Girl Torque.cc exclusively for women?

When you are on a mission to make motorcycle riders safe for everyone, the word “exclusivity” means to me I am excluding men. The business does specialise for women, however, if a man wanted me to teach him how to ride, assist in understanding roadcraft and manage the risks on the open road, I couldn’t say, “no” – I’d be more than happy to help out!

Does Girl Torque.cc cater for individuals or are there group lessons?

Yes, to both! One-on-one privates – my most popular option – provides effective results for someone who wants undivided attention. I am based in Sydney, so group lessons outside the Sydney metro area with students that are around the same skill level are the most effective.

Do you offer any services for people who already have their motorcycle licence?

Absolutely! I’ve started to organise monthly morning group rides where training is included for my L’s and P riders. Our route is carefully planned so everyone can experience road riding without fear of difficult bends, cambers and heavy traffic. I want the girls to enjoy the experience. It really helps when they know they are riding with riders sharing similar skill level and fears. It’s a fantastic team building experience even though we are all individuals with the same goal. Rides are always to an interesting breakfast spot where we share our stories and build a community of “Girltorquers”.

I also profile women and match them to the most suitable bikes, based on their experience, shape, size and purpose and needs. Another important aspect to riding is the right equipment and I can source and assist in the purchase of all things like apparel, gear, luggage and accessories for women riders.

Girl Torque Personal Shopping

Tell us about the Girl Torque.cc App:

Yes, it’s very exciting! We have developed an App that is the quintessential must-have for all your bike riding needs. By joining up, women enjoy a range of benefits; from 20% off your first lesson to discounted apparel, gear, and equipment from selected retailers and suppliers to discounts at businesses like City Coast Motorcycles. Plus there are savings at selected cafes, bars and restaurants. Benefits are growing.

It also includes privileged features to explore and provide you comfort on the road such as a unique emergency button. No need to Google, the App will get you straight to the motorbike carrier and the transport you need.

Our App is free to download. Just set up and log in! The Membership fee is $9.95 per/month. Alternatively, sign up for 2 months and get 2 months free (this then reverts to monthly subscription). The App will enable you to redeem from the range of exclusive offers as a Girl Torque.cc member.

Download the Girl Torque.cc App

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Santa’s Helpers Ride for The Salvos

City Coast Motorcycles and The Litas Wollongong have dressed jolly in their second Santa Ride for Charity. The social event held on December 8th kicked off the 2018 Santa Pub Crawl for Charity from North Wollongong Hotel. Participants raised $335 which will help The Salvos support families in need, this Christmas. Thanks to Noel at Wollongong Images and Josh Lynch Photography for taking shots out on the road.

City Coast Motorcycles & The Litas Wollongong Santa Ride for Charity
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The Incredible Freedom Machines

On the release of The Incredible Freedom Machines, Litas Wollongong co-founder and motorcycle enthusiast Kirli Saunders shares her story…

“In this sumptuous story of exploration and breaking boundaries, a young girl uncovers her very own freedom machine vehicle that carries her to all kinds of wondrous places.”

How old were you when you started riding?

My first ride was probably on a postie or dirt bike on the farm up in the Highlands where we were raised. We were always around bikes as kids, one of my earliest memories is sitting on top of Dad’s BSA, polishing as far as my arms would reach while he’d be working on it. Dad loves classic racers; he’s owned Triumphs, BSAs, Nortons, Matchless and Ducatis. Pop and my brother have always had motorbikes too. Their love for life on two wheels has definitely influenced my own.

What was your first motorcycle and where did you ride it?

I picked up my first road bike on Valentine’s Day, a red Ducati Monster 659 named Valentino. I’d only been living in the Illawarra a little while, and my Duc took me up and down the coast as I learnt to ride. There were lots of National Park runs, rides up Keira, down Kembla, to Berry or further south and up to Bald Hill.

What wheels do you have now?

I’m currently riding a very charming 2013 Triumph Thruxton 900 named Knox. I went in to pick up a helmet and had the guys at City Coast Motorcycles hand me the keys and tell me to take it for a spin. It was love at first braap, and has been ever since.

Kirli Saunders - The Incredible Freedom Machines
Kirli’s beloved Triumph Thruxton 900

What has been your most memorable motorcycling experience to date?

For me every ride is a memorable experience, there’s a really strong and encouraging motorcycling community in the Illawarra and I often ride with my motofam, the Illawarra Café Racers or The Litas Wollongong. We’re blessed with so many beautiful coastal roads here. The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride last year though was superb, really well organized and for such a great cause. I’m excited for this year’s one. In partnership with City Coast Motorcycles and The North Wollongong Hotel, The Litas held a Santa Pub Crawl Charity Ride. It was fun riding across the Sea Cliff bridge in Santa suits and raising money for a local cause. We’re really grateful to be supported by local businesses.

Motorbikes have been like ‘a rock’ to you. Can you share with us how they have helped you?

I remember dad saying that you don’t see motorcycles out the front of psychologist’s offices, and you know I think he was onto something. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression just before I bought my first bike and I found that riding really helped me to be mindful, to spend time close to Mother Earth and to be around good people. It’s amazing the type of healing a bike can provide. If ever I’m stuck a ride on my bike really contextualizes things for me. I always return with a heart full of gratitude.

How did the idea for The Incredible Freedom Machines come about?

The Incredible Freedom Machines tells the story of a little girl and her adventures with her Freedom Machine.  For me, this book is a metaphor for my own adventures on Valentino. The day that I wrote it, I’d been riding through the National Park, and along the coast before arriving in Keiraville for a cup of tea. I wrote the whole manuscript in one sitting, sent it to Matt Ottley, one of Australia’s best illustrators with the email subject: ‘Be my Illustrator?’ and was absolutely flawed when he sent it to my now editor at Scholastic.

Kirli Saunders-The Incredible Freedom Machines
Valentino: Kirli’s first road bike

What age group is The Incredible Freedom Machines pitched at?

This book could be read to Preschoolers or analyzed for literary studies in High School, though the primary teacher in me sees it being loved dearly by Primary students. The illustrations (which I can take no credit for) are the most divine creations, I couldn’t have dreamt them better.

This book is getting excellent early reviews. What do you have planned next?

Thank you! It’s really exciting seeing it hitting shelves. The Incredible Freedom Machines has been selected for presentation at the largest Children’s book fair in the world, Bologna Book Fair (May 2018). It’ll be pitched there to hopefully be published in other languages.

It’s also being presented as a part of The Sound of Picture Books in Fremantle, where an accompanying orchestral piece will be played by the Perth Symphony Orchestra as Matt Ottley (The Illustrator) draws and I narrate for school audiences. I’ll be Writer In Residence at Bundanon Trust in August for Book Week, sharing The Incredible Freedom Machines with local schools.

My second book, Our Dreaming is being illustrated at the moment by Dub Leffler and will be out in June 2019. I’ve also got two more manuscripts under consideration with Scholastic at the moment and have been working on a poetry collection as well titled Mother, Earth Child, Lover.

Kirli Saunders - The Incredible Freedom Machines
Kirli’s second book, Our Dreaming will be released in June next year

Can you tell us about your work at Red Room Poetry?

Red Room Poetry is a NFP that aims to make poetry a meaningful part of everyday life. I manage Red Room’s Poetic Learning programs, connecting contemporary poets with 450+ education communities across Australia & New Zealand. I am also the First Nations Cultural Liaison at Red Room. I’ve developed a program titled, “Poetry in First Languages” that sees First Nations poets create and publish poems in First Languages with Elders and Custodians while also supporting students on country to do the same. As a proud Gunai woman with ties to lots of east coast nations, seeing First Nations students use language to express themselves creatively is really powerful. This year we’re leading workshops on Gundungurra, Dharawal, Gadigal, Bundjalung and Yuin Nations with local communities.

You are a co-founder of the Litas Wollongong branch which is part of a worldwide, all-female, social riding collective. How is it going?

The Litas are a group of phenomenal women riding and thriving all around the world, I feel really honored to be a part of the crew and even more so to have helped start a movement in Wollongong with Sari Lokollo and Jessica Knight (the other Co-Founders). I’ve been so flat out of late that I haven’t had a chance to get along to many of the rides, but there’s always ride outs, camp outs and wrench nights happening. I encourage all female motorcycle riders of all skill levels in the Illawarra and surrounds to get involved.

 

Kirli Saunders - The Incredible Freedom Machines
“The Litas are a group of phenomenal women riding and thriving all around the world.”

Do you have any advice for women getting involved in riding?

My advice is to absolutely do it. Buy the bike, buy the leathers and start your adventures. Riding motorcycles has helped me develop confidence and independence in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

I’d suggest researching widely and finding a bike suited to your style, build and ability. Getting some quality, well-fitting protective gear is also paramount. My other advice would be to join The Litas or another club of riders, or ride with some more experiences friends, follow their lines and take their tips on board. Like all new ventures, you must do it often in all conditions and practice practice, practice.

We think the Illawarra boasts some of the best moto daytrips in Australia. Do you have a favourite?

There’s so many great rides around the Illawarra. I do love a cheeky braaap to Bald Hill and back; I think this one is best during the week or even in the evening when the road is a little quieter. I also love extending that ride into the National Park.

Riding up Mount Keira and down Kembla with lunch at the pub is always a good time. Heading out the back of Jamberoo, finishing in Kiama or heading to Berry is delightful too. You can’t go wrong with a ride up the Macquarie Pass up into the Highlands either.

Overall though, I love cutting along the Upper Kangaroo Valley River, to the suspension bridge. That spot is all kinds of magic.

Kirli Saunders - The Incredible Freedom Machines
Kirli at the inaugural Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride – Wollongong hosted by City Coast Motorcycles

Kirli Saunders’ The Incredible Freedom Machines from Scholastic Australia is available at all good book stores.