Hat-trick for the ladies at 2014 Roof of Africa


Words: Michelle Smith

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Roof of Africa

To have one lady competing in the Roof of Africa is always incredible, let alone three. Not only did three enter, but all three finished the race and set a new record for ladies at the Roof of Africa. 2014 saw Kirsten Landman return and complete in a very tough Silver Class and in the Bronze Class we had 16 year old Natasha Rugani as well as Austrian rider Veronika Dallhammer. To say that this was an incredible weekend for Women in Motorcycling is an understatement. We reflect back on their success at the 2014 Roof of Africa.

Photo credit: Cathlene Roos

To have one lady competing in the Roof of Africa is always incredible, let alone three. Not only did three enter, but all three finished the race and set a new record for ladies at the Roof of Africa. 2014 saw Kirsten Landman return and complete in a very tough Silver Class and in the Bronze Class we had 16 year old Natasha Rugani as well as Austrian rider Veronika Dallhammer. To say that this was an incredible weekend for Women in Motorcycling is an understatement.  We reflect back on their success at the 2014 Roof of Africa.


Kirsten Landman

Kirsten has undoubtedly earned her place amongst the finishers of the Roof of Africa. Each year she goes from strength to strength and we look forward to seeing what she has in store next. She gives us her insight into her Roof of Africa experience and finishing in the Silver Class.


WIM: You came 23rd in Silver Class. Has it sunk in yet what you have achieved?

KL: I don't think it ever really will. But I am over the moon to have a finisher’s medal and still running on a high from the race. The exhaustion hasn't set in yet, haha.


WIM: You were very strong on day two and finished it in an incredible 12th position; did you go into day three feeling as strong?

KL: Day 3 was the easiest route but by far the hardest day for me. I got into DSP 1, took all my kit off and was ready to quit. My body was in agony, my hands were blue and I was chaffed from head to toe. If it wasn't for my family and friends don't think I would have finished.


WIM: Quickly breakdown each day for us?

KL: Day 1: the time trial was fast and flowing, pushed the freeride as hard as I could and finished 46th with a good time.
Day 2: longest, most technical, both physically and mentally demanding. Was on the bike for 11 and half hours but was the best day on the bike for me. Finishing 12th came as a complete shock but I was over the moon.
Day 3: all I had in mind was the finish line and that's where I was headed, my fatigue got the best of me but I pushed through and came out strong.


WIM: What kind of preparation was needed to race in the Roof of Africa?

KL: I have been preparing for this race the whole year, all my training on and off the bike, nutrition and navigation has all been incorporated into my year of training. I've had a great mentor the whole way, Gary Franks has guided me and supported me. I owe everything to him.


WIM: How important is mental preparation?

KL: Huge, when your body is tired and you are sore everywhere and physically it feels like you can't continue that's when your mind takes over. And you have to believe in yourself to be able to push on and finish.


WIM: Do you feel like you did enough to prepare?...what would you do differently (if anything)

KL: I think this year I went in as best prepared as possible, from my fitness, to my health, bike fitness, navigation and I think most importantly I’ve never been so hungry for something in my life.


WIM: Tell us about your bike and your setup?

KL: I had the best bike, the KTM 250R Freeride was a weapon. It was set up perfectly. We spent hours and hours getting it ready and for the race it was perfect.


WIM: Will we see you back at the Roof of Africa in 2015?

KL: Of course, I'm going to come back every year and I will be the First Lady to finish gold one day.


WIM: What advice would you give anyone that is interested in racing in the Roof?

KL: Go best prepared as possible. It's a costly event, if you going to go, go there to finish.


WIM: We saw a couple of other ladies ride in Bronze who also finished. Do you think we will see a wave of new ladies trying the Roof?

KL: Definitely, now that the other lady riders have seen that it is possible they will slowly but surely start attempting it. It definitely is possible.


WIM: Who would you like to thank?

KL: Gary Franks my mentor, he has trained, guided and helped me over the years, Franziska Brandl for taking me onboard and believing in me, my sponsors without them I wouldn't be racing and to all my family, friends and the supporters.


WIM: Where can we see you compete in 2015?

KL: I will be racing locally again, but importantly attempting Romaniacs again, a new one on the calendar - Sea to Sky and also I will attempt a few world Super Enduros.


WIM: Where can people stay updated?

KL: Follow me on Instagram and Twitter : @kirstlandman

Like my fan page on facebook : Kirsten Landman

And also all my updates on my website: www.kirstenlandman.com


Veronika Dallhammer

Veronika is no stranger to hard enduro, having competed in both Erzburg and Romaniacs before. We found out about her Roof of Africa experience.


WIM: Was this your first time to South Africa?

VD: I was here in February visiting a friend and it was then when the idea developed to participate in the Mother of all Hard enduros.


WIM: What expectations did you have for the Roof of Africa?

VD: I didn't have a lot of expectations. The goal was to reach the finish line. Maybe I expected it to be more like Romaniacs but it is totally different.


WIM: You came in 44th overall. How does it feel having achieved that?

VD: I really don't care about the result. I'm so ecstatic that I made it to the finish. During the race, especially on Friday, I thought I will never make it. The good result is the bonus for the hard work and makes me even happier.


WIM: Give us a breakdown of how each day went?

VD: The Round the houses Race was exciting. It's the first thing you have to finish to be able to continue. Also as it is no real race or at least you don't have to. It's nice for the crowd to see how many racers are there. The time trial was a really fast track but I went on my own speed and I got the first impressions of the landscape of Lesotho and of how the race will be.

The Friday was really tough. I'm not used to the heat as it is snowing at the moment in Austria. I also felt that the sea level is higher than at home. Everything is a little bit more tiring. But slowly the kilometres were passing by. I was already hoping to be time barred at the unassisted fuel stop,  but I could continue... I have no idea how I rode on the last 30km. On the last uphill I was desperate because I thought I can't do the last 2km. As soon as possible I went to bed. One of my friends, Paulo Ponte, helped me to put my things together for the next day as I couldn't think clearly anymore. My dreams were full of rocky up hills and passes and me looking for a way to go up.

On Saturday I got back on the bike. Fortunately the track was a lot easier - at least the first 65km. In the last section there were again some energy taking parts like Spiderman. This pass was like a never-ending story. As I broke my extra fuel tank on the back of the bike earlier on in the race I already expected to have a lack of fuel towards the end of the race. I just made the difficult part of Musicbox as the engine started to stop. The problem is the fuel goes to the back of the tank and the pump is in the front. Two guys there helped me to get it on the flat part and then the bike started again. I continued along the side of the mountain until the last uphill. 50m before the finish the Freeride stopped again. The marshal, some guys who asked the officials at the finish line if they are allowed to help and me pushed the bike into the finish. I was so relieved and happy to cross it, I can hardly describe it.


WIM: Tell us about your bike for the Roof of Africa and how it performed?
VD: I had the KTM Freeride 350. I was happy that I choose it as I'm riding it in Austria as well. I wouldn't have made it with another bike. I can reach the ground better and the 4 stroke Freeride has a lot of traction and keeps going all the time.


WIM: You have raced in both Erzburg and Romanics, how does the Roof of Africa compare to them for you?

VD: I think you can't compare it at all. Everyone of this 3 events is so unique. At Romaniacs you have to do a lot more technical riding, for Erzberg you have to be really fast and later on technically good and for the roof you need a lot of strength and energy. What you need for all of them is endurance.


WIM: Do you have any advice for ladies wanting to race any of the hard enduro events internationally?

VD: Physical condition is top priority. You have to be really fit otherwise you will brake down physically and mentally, and never give up! Keep going, step by step, one piece after the other.


WIM: Will we see you back for the Roof next year?

VD: Actually I don't know yet. I don't plan that far but I would love to meet all the people here again as I felt really comfortable and we had a lot of fun.


WIM: Who would you like to thank?

VD: I would like to thank KTM South Africa for the Freeride 350, Paulo Ponte for assisting me at the race and Eddy2Race for the mechanical service. A big thanks of course to all the people helping me on the track and for cheering me on, that helps a lot when you think you're not going to make it.

Thanks also to the organizers of the race, I think they did a great job and I know how much work that it.


WIM: What plans do you have for 2015?

VD: I want to race the Austrian Cross Country Championship again as well as Erzbergrodeo, the Akrapovic "No Fear No Limit" Rally and Krk Raid in Croatia. The rest of my race schedule is still open, let's see what comes my way.


WIM: If people want to follow your progress, where can they go?

VD: They can follow me on Facebook as I post all my bike news public there. People may also find my German articles on the website motorradreporter.com


Natasha Rugani

This young lady took on an incredible task when entering the RoA at only 16 years old. She is now the youngest lady to ever complete the RoA. Natasha tells us more about her experience.


WIM: So what motivated you to enter the Roof of Africa?
NR: I decided to do the Roof of Africa because I have a love for hard enduro, so I set the goal that as soon as I was old enough (16) I was going to race it. So it's been a goal of mine since I started riding.


WIM: You came in 70th overall, how does it feel having achieved that?
NR: To finish this race in the position I did makes me so proud of myself. Crossing the finish line was an incredible feeling and I still can't believe it's already over.


WIM: Quickly break down each day for us?
NR: On Thursday we made our way to Round the Houses in Maseru. The vibe at round the houses was awesome and after doing my laps I was super pumped up and ready for Time Trial. The Time Trial was a great loop and I enjoyed the whole loop and I felt ready for day 2.  On Friday I started strong and up to fuel point one moved smoothly. Between fuel point one and two I hit a wall and became tired and dizzy so I stopped for a while minutes to catch my breath. From that point on it felt like forever to get to the finish line. After the last refuel point we were sent down bushman’s pass and I struggled with arm pump the whole way down. Friday was the toughest day for me.

Waking up on Saturday morning was a struggle but once I was up and on the bike I was comfortable and riding smooth. The first 60km on Saturday was very enjoyable. After the last refuel we had 40km to go and those 40km were the longest kilometres ever. I struggled my way through and I have never been so tired in my life. When I saw the finish line from the bottom of music box I put my head down and pushed to the finish. Coming up to the finish line was the most incredible feeling. With everyone cheering and spraying me with champagne I was overwhelmed and all the excitement and being so tired I ended  up in tears on the finish line.


WIM: Since this was your first Roof, how did you know what kind of preparation to do?
NR: I was lucky to have my dad to guide me and many friends who had attempted the Roof themselves to guide me as well.


WIM: Do you feel like you prepared enough?

NR: I definitely could have prepared more and get my speed up in general.


WIM: Will we see you back at the Roof?
NR: Yes I am very excited to be back at the Roof of Africa and I will be competing in 2015.


WIM: There are a lot of ladies that would like to give it a try. Being a newcomer yourself, what advice would you give them?
NR: To other ladies who want to do the Roof I would say the fitness plays a huge role in this race. Also to be on a light bike and make sure your suspension is set up properly. A week before the roof feed your body properly and eat a lot. You use so much energy in this race it's unbelievable. Make sure you have someone to pit crew for you who knows you an your riding well because when you come home from riding in the afternoon or evening you will want to shower and get into bed. Leave your preparation for the next day to your pit crew.


WIM: Who would you like to thank?
NR: I would like to thank my dad for training me and always supporting me in my riding. To my mom and brother for cheering me on and coming down to support me and to School of Hard Rocks for being an amazing pit crew and support crew. To all my friends and family for your support. Diamonds and Dirt for supporting me and sticking with me all year. And then to my team mates for next year Toni and Anton,  thank you for cheering me on all weekend. To Laren for all the training lessons this year. I am so grateful for everyone's support!!


WIM: What plans do you have for 2015?
NR: For 2015 I am on the Mr Move/WM Digital solutions Yamaha Team. I will be racing motocross and enduro and hopefully I will be able to make my way to ISDE 2015. And then at the end of next year the Roof of Africa again.


WIM: If people want to follow your progress, where can they go?
NR: To follow my progress find me on
Facebook - Natasha Rugani
Instagram – natzrugani
Twitter - @natzrugani