Kent Online: Vanessa Ruck, an explorer from Tunbridge Wells, has achieved another milestone.
As seen in The Kent Online: Vanessa Ruck from Tunbridge Wells bravely travels 180 kilometers alone to set a record at the 1000 Dunas Raid desert rally.
Ruck, who earlier this year was the first female to complete the Tunisia Desert Challenge, finishing in 35th place out of 55 entries, is now the first female to finish the 1000 Dunas Raid desert rally on a standard production large-capacity adventure bike.
It’s a seven-day rally that isn’t timed but designed to test roadbook navigation skills, endurance, and vehicle. Starting in Granada, Spain, entrants cross the Moroccan desert to Merzouga, then back to Granada for the finish covering more than 1,500km. Riders are ranked according to navigation accuracy and whether they finish each stage.
Competing on a 900cc Tiger Triumph adventure bike, Ruck tackled dry riverbeds, sand, camel grass, dunes and long distances – but when team-mate Aled Price hit trouble, she was forced to complete 180km alone, finishing eighth out of 11 hard-trail finishers.
She said: “The terrain was incredibly challenging at times and recovering a bike over three times your body weight in soft sand presents a real struggle.
“We had a section of small, uneven dunes covered in camel grass where Aled and I were in full survival mode. We got more and more tired, so it was teamwork to recover the bikes until the unthinkable happened – Aled’s clutch burned out.
“I was left with no choice but to continue through the dunes and remaining 180km day alone. As I pulled away, leaving him to be rescued, I knew I was riding for my life. Just one mistake, one drop in the deep sand could be game over.
“My heart was racing and it took every bit of determination, strength and fight to make it through. Being alone in a desert on a bike like that, that was brutal, and the heat and fatigue and fear builds very quickly.”
Most people would want weeks to prepare for such a challenge, but Ruck just jumped straight in, although she shares she would have perhaps hesitated a little more before saying yes to entering the 1000 Dunas on an adventure bike if she’d known just how brutal it was going to be.
“Then again, I’m not one to shy away from a challenge,” she said, “so I was determined to give it my all to get over that finish line.”
“The feeling of finishing [the] 1000 Dunas is absolutely incredible. Male or female, getting across that finish line is an achievement.
“Doing it as a female just makes me feel really proud for other women out there and hopefully shows some inspiration and encourages others to give it a go.
“Sure, I have to fight a little harder, I’m smaller and not as strong as a guy, but women absolutely can do it, and it’s a very powerful feeling.”
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