Monmouthshire Beacon: Monmouth’s Girl On A Bike wins the Moroccan challenge.
As seen in The Monmouthshire Beacon: Vanessa Ruck of Monmouthshire, also known as the ‘Girl on a Bike,’ has just completed one of her most difficult challenges yet.
She took part in the 1000 Dunas Raid in Morocco making her the first female to ever finish on a standard production large-capacity adventure bike. She battled dry riverbeds, sand, camel grass, dunes, and long distances over rough terrain every day.
Vanessa finished the 7-day rally with teammate Aled Price, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. According to the 1000 Dunas organizers, this event is all about being the ultimate test of how far you can go, and not all riders are expected to finish every single day.
The paper-based roadbook navigation is tricky, the terrain is hard, and the distances are long. “Most people were there on more typical smaller rally bikes. I was part of a very small group of nutters on large motorcycles”, Vanessa says.
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. The bike was dead.
‘’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”, Vanessa explains. According to Vanessa, they had no idea whether the Triumph Tigers would hold or whether they would be capable enough for a rally raid like this – yet day in and day out, the motorcycles just plowed on.
It’s not hard to imagine that wrestling a heavy 900cc adventure motorcycle over sand dunes rather than a lighter bike is a much harder job. “The feeling of finishing 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 show some inspiration and encourage 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. I’m utterly exhausted right now but buzzing at the same time.’’
Vanessa’s story is one of true resilience and utter determination so it’s no surprise to her social media followers that she finished! She describes herself as just a normal girl who faced one of life’s big curve balls.
But after being hit by a car while cycling in 2014, resulting in seven surgeries and a roller-coaster of mental and physical recovery spanning seven years, taking on 1000 Dunas was no mean feat!
For the rest of the Monmouthshire Beacon article see here.
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