Monmouthshire racer, Vanessa Ruck, also known as ‘The Girl On A Bike,’ announces her entry into the Africa Eco race, highlighting her journey and philanthropic endeavours. Vanessa has evolved from a roadbook rookie to a desert rally addict, completing eight international desert rallies and aiming for her most challenging race yet.

Riding on her KTM 450 rally replica, fondly named Big Buddy, Vanessa took to her YouTube channel to share her journey in the realm of desert rally racing. “I braved the desert for the first time just 19 months ago,” she said, adding that her passion lies in roadbook navigation and rallying. Vanessa has also been the first female to enter and finish in certain challenging desert rallies like the Tunisia desert challenge.

Her most recent accomplishment was in the Morocco desert challenge, a demanding 8-day event. Out of 77 participants in the Moto category, Vanessa was among the 40 per cent who finished every stage despite extremely harsh conditions, including peak temperatures of 52 degrees Celsius.

Vanessa also provided insights into the reasons for choosing the Africa Eco race, set to take place in January 2024. Besides the rally’s reputation, Vanessa was drawn to its ecological and social initiatives. The race supports local communities with programs like Energy of Hope, which provides solar lamps to rural school children. “Over 2 and a half thousand lamps have been handed out so far,” Vanessa stated. The rally has also funded the planting of over 2,000 trees in the capital of Mauritania.

In terms of safety, Vanessa emphasised that the Africa Eco race has robust measures in place, including multiple helicopters and 4x4 vehicles, as well as over 20 doctors.

Vanessa also has a philanthropic angle to her racing pursuits. She is a brand ambassador for Two Wheels for Life, a charity providing healthcare mobility solutions in Africa. Through this organisation, she’s offering a chance for people to win a five-star trip to Dakar to witness the end of the race.

As she gears up for the monumental challenge, Vanessa is taking on speaking engagements to raise funds. “I don’t just want a payout to enable me to go and do the rally; I want to feel like I’m giving back,” she said. Vanessa ended her announcement with words of gratitude for her supporters and a promise for a full YouTube series documenting her Africa Eco race journey.