British motorcycle rider, racer and adventurer, Vanessa Ruck, 36, has completed the 1000 DUNAS RAID in Spain, making her the first female to ever finish on a standard production adventure bike. Vanessa – also known as ‘The Girl on a Bike’ – took on the challenge riding a Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro motorcycle, between Granada, Spain and Morocco after only taking up riding motorcycles seven years ago.
Adding to the Tiger’s growing roster of racing achievements, Triumph’s off-road ambassador, Iván Cervantes, won the won the Hard Trail category on his specialised Tiger 900, with 1390 out of 1455 total points., while Triumph enthusiast and mechanic Josu Orozko, gained 3rd position in the Trail category on his own MY12 Tiger 800 XC. British Clubman Enduro Champion, Aled Price, also completed the Hard Trail with Vanessa Ruck on his standard Tiger 900 Rally Pro.
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The 1,800km cross-country rally raid took Vanessa seven days to complete, showcasing her determination and the Tiger’s class leading capability, with over 70 hours of riding across unpredictable terrain, including loose rocks, ruts, riverbeds, and sand dunes. Using both mechanical and riding skills, Vanessa had to do her own daily servicing on the bike, from chains and tyre changes to bolt checks and daily filters. But perhaps the most challenging of all was the size of the bike, which at 201kg, was more than three times Vanessa’s body weight. In tough conditions, this made control of the bike and picking it up from inevitable drops on soft sand, extremely difficult.
Ms. Ruck commented: “The 1000 DUNAS was harder than expected, and I ultimately ended up riding for survival. It took every strength in my mind and body to reach the end, and it feels like an incredible achievement to be able to push both myself and the bike to its limits. The fact that I would jump on another Tiger 900 Rally Pro tomorrow says it all – I have a great love for the bike.”
Vanessa found her love for motorbikes seven years ago while recovering from a cycling accident. After a lengthy recovery involving five hip and two shoulder surgeries, she found new adventures on a motorcycle, and never looked back. Having no previous rally experience, Vanessa took on the Qatar International Baja, Rallye du Maroc and then became the first woman to have ever competed in the Tunisia Desert Challenge and has competed in numerous rallies since, including the notorious Red Bull Romaniacs and Dinaric Rally. She has since made it her mission to break barriers and expectations, whether through upskilling her knowledge of motorcycle mechanics or mastering unforgiving terrain.
Ms Ruck continued: “My accident was the hardest thing I ever had to go through, and my love for riding has meant I can embrace new challenges that are within my control. Mental attitude is a huge contributor to success – for me, staying positive and not being afraid to fail have allowed me to continue to push my limits to places I never thought I could go.”
Before she reached the start line, Vanessa had prepared by riding the Tiger 900 all the way from South Wales to the Triumph Adventure Experience in Spain to complete a few hours of training. There she made minor adjustments to the stock Tiger 900 to ensure its versatility and reliability throughout the rally. This included fitting rally navigation, extra strong hand guards and fitting off road focused tyres as well as removing panniers and rails for speed and making deep sand recovery easier.
With its generous ground clearance, excellent power to weight ratio, dedicated high specification Showa suspension set up, sump guard and engine protection, rally off-road pro mode which disables ABS and traction control, and lightweight Brembo Stylema brakes, the Tiger 900 is as capable off-road as it is on.
General Manager of Triumph Motorcycles UK & Ireland, Devron Boulton, applauded Vanessa’s achievement: “In this unforgiving and challenging terrain, Vanessa tackled the event with skill and bravery. Her efforts were outstanding, and were well matched by the performance of the Tiger 900 Rally Pro. Congratulations to all four Tiger riders, and the teams supporting them at the event.”
For more information on the 1000 DUNAS RAID, please visit https://1000dunas.com/en/