The Girl on a Bike "crushes it" in the Morocco Desert Challenge
CTEK ambassador Vanessa Ruck, known as The Girl on a Bike, has achieved a remarkable feat by conquering the grueling Morocco Desert Challenge, an extreme rally-raid across scorching sand dunes. This renowned endurance event tested the limits of participants, and she emerged as one of the few who successfully completed the 8-day race, covering up to 420km each day. Her accomplishment is even more impressive considering that only 40% of motorcycle category riders managed to finish. However, her journey was far from easy.
Enduring Harsh Conditions
Vanessa faced numerous challenges as she battled the intense heat wave that swept across North Africa, with temperatures reaching a peak of 52°C. Dealing with an upset stomach and dehydration due to the extreme heat, she also encountered two major crashes that triggered her life-saving air vest. Despite these obstacles, she refused to give up.
The Unforgiving Desert Extremes
Vanessa described her experience as a constant fight for survival: "I felt like I was fighting for my life rather than racing against others. Battling the unforgiving terrain, the scorching heat, and the mental and physical fatigue, every moment on my bike was a struggle. In the vast expanse of dunes, I knew that any issue could spell the end for me. I even started composing a message in my mind to record on my phone for my family in case the worst happened. It was truly terrifying."
The desert's heat posed an exceptional and unforgiving challenge, especially for bikers, with temperatures peaking at 52°C during the heat wave. Vanessa vividly recalled cresting a massive dune that stood taller than a multi-story building, scanning the horizon to see nothing but sand and dunes in all directions. Alone with her bike, her body exhausted and craving rest, the scorching heat compelled her to keep pushing forward. She had to muster immense mental strength to reach the finish line.
Mental and Physical Extremes
Competitors not only navigated the challenging terrain of Morocco but also had to tackle its rugged and rocky landscape. Precise navigation was crucial, involving following symbols, compass bearings, and distances recorded on a scrolling piece of paper called a road book, mounted to the handlebars. Road book navigation events, like the renowned Paris-Dakar rally, demanded more than just riding skills. Riders had to maintain accurate navigation, mental focus, and physical endurance for 6-8 hours of off-road racing each day. Imagine being alone in the middle of nowhere, relying on your energy reserves and carrying only the supplies you could manage.
Vanessa's Remarkable Resilience
One could question Vanessa's sanity and decision to participate in such a challenging event. However, when a cycling accident in 2014 threatened to disrupt the adventurous life she cherished, she refused to surrender. Instead, she faced adversity head-on. Despite enduring a seven-year recovery with seven surgeries to reconstruct her shoulder and hip, Vanessa discovered her passion for motorcycles.
Fast forward seven years from her first off-road bike experience, and she has now taken on some of the most demanding races, standing strong among the few brave females who tackle the grueling challenges. Vanessa's journey has been far from smooth, as chronic pain has become a daily companion. However, she has learned the importance of not allowing her past to dictate her future. Undoubtedly, the resilience she gained during her recovery played a significant role in overcoming the brutal obstacles of the Morocco Desert Challenge.
Fighting to the Finish
On the final day, with the finish line in sight, Vanessa encountered the biggest and most painful crash of her riding career. Due to the full rear tanks on her bike in preparation for sand and dunes, the weight distribution was unfavorable during the initial 30km of rocky tracks. Approaching a right-hand corner, her rear tire collided with a submerged boulder, causing her bike's back end to jump and veer sideways, resembling a rodeo bull. Sensing the instability, she quickly throttled to straighten out, but the corner closed in on her. Unable to maneuver, she was thrown off the rocky track, landing in a rock garden. Determined, she held on, gripping with her knees and heart pounding, while expertly managing the throttle to keep the bike under control. However, the rocky step ahead became insurmountable. Both Vanessa and her bike launched into it, resulting in a hard impact against the jagged desert rocks. Fortunately, her airbag deployed just in time, offering some protection. Nevertheless, a boulder impaled her left abdomen, striking her pelvis.
Despite being winded and in excruciating pain, Vanessa refused to let this setback end her chances of finishing the race.
The Triumph of Strength and Determination
As Vanessa crested the penultimate dune, the flags marking the finish line came into view, eliciting screams of pure joy. With only 40% of her motorcycle category managing to complete the nearly 2,500km event, Vanessa's achievement is a testament to her unwavering strength and determination. Placing 25th in her class, she serves as an inspiration to both men and women.
The Reality of Endurance Racing
Vanessa's candid account of the highs and lows of the toughest endurance races sheds light on the non-glamorous aspects of these events. Her resilience and remarkable performance challenge the male-dominated motorcycle industry, proving that women can excel as well. Vanessa's mission is to never let her chronic pain or past experiences control her future. As an influential speaker and athlete, she continues to inspire people across the country, and we eagerly anticipate her next endeavors.
Proud to have Vanessa in the CTEK family
Here at CTEK we are so proud to have Vanessa an as ambassador for our products. We have shared values such as passion, drive and ambition to be the best at what we do.
Everything Vanessa achieves is a true testament to her huge talent, the strength she has taken from previous experiences and the values that she lives by. Congratulations on your achievement Vanessa. We can’t wait to see what you do next!