Adele Kimble hit her midlife crisis for a six. But it wasn’t easy and it required a goal, a coach, commitment, and a ridiculously long ride on her mountain bike.

“I’m 47. I missed my 20th wedding anniversary by 4 months. It was an amicable divorce but by no means easy to just turn my back and look forward. I had been instrumental in hurting my two precious sons and ending up yet another statistic which I never imagined. It took 18 months on an emotional roller coaster ride until an opportunity presented itself that would change my life.

“A few short hours after a post was made on Facebook, ‘looking for a female partner for the 36One MTB Challenge’. I offered to do it, not fully realising what I was actually in for – 361kms on my mountain bike varying terrain in the Karoo and only 36.1 hours to finish it in.”

Adele’s original partner, Tony, ended up having to withdraw for medical reasons.

“Help! I could not ride that distance on my own. I was counting on having a man to push me up some of the mountains at least. I then approached Juandre, a chap I hardly knew, but who had all the credentials to finish the event, and asked him to partner me.”

With the guidance of a coach, Anel and the support of her family and friends, Adele began her preparation, changing her occasional social rides with her girlfriends into five-hour solo sessions with her iPod. She changed her diet dramatically too.

“Going vegetarian (with eating eggs daily and occasional fish), I was able to lose 10kg in four months. I started sleeping better and no longer needed sleeping tablets, AND, believe it or not, I stopped craving sugar!! I was a chocoholic of note; I had to have a chocolate every single day.

“Friday 17 April arrived. Jeandre and I were quiet, not much laughter or chatting going on. He prepped the bikes, fitted our lights and number boards and then we got dressed.

“My incredible sister, Bev, had organised a little book of motivational

Adele and Jeandre finished in 32 hours 40 minutes. They were the last to finish. But they did finish. She has since completed a half-Ironman triathlon and tackled the Berg & Bush stage race in October.
Adele and Jeandre finished in 32 hours 40 minutes. They were the last to finish. But they did finish. She has since completed a half-Ironman triathlon and tackled the Berg & Bush stage race in October.

quotes from the girls, my sons and family. There was something for every 10km, together with an iPod of their chosen songs for me, as well as a whole bunch of ABBA songs. I attached it to my bike, packed my hydration pack with all sorts of bits and bobs, and kitted up according to the predicted weather (we were in for some low temperatures) and off we rode to the start. Into the chute and I didn’t have any butterflies, which I had half expected.

The first half wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as tough as the second half would be. By the time she reached halfway, Adele’s back was hurting and she’d, lost a contact lens. She’d ridden on gravel roads, gravel roads with corrugations, clumpy grass, railway line stones, sand, puddles and mud. She’d reached 180km. Her longest ride ever before was 110km. She was tired, but still determined.

“At around 200km, we hit Rooiberg, a huge climb for me. We were told at the previous water point that 150 riders had already withdrawn. I was determined to continue. Pulling out was not my goal. Finishing was.

“At the top of Rooiberg, I stopped, put my bike down and walked to the side of the road. I looked for a biggish rock that would be bigger than my hand but light enough to lift. I picked one up, lifted it back and threw it off the mountain. ‘Goodbye past, I’m done with you, hello future.’ It was a symbolic moment that has more significance than anyone might know.”

After 24 hours and 280km completed, knee pain eventually became too much for Adele.

“I stopped, got off my bike and told Jeandre, ‘I’m sore, I can’t anymore.’ He looked at me and firmly said, ‘Adele, embrace the pain, I told you that I would get you to the end and I will. If we have to alternate walking and riding, that is what we will do.’ And that is what we did.

“I may have walked more than I wanted to but I crossed the finish line with time to spare. My life will never be the same again. Will I do it again? NO! I have incredible memories to last me forever, no-one can take those away. My aching body eventually recovered. It was a painful way to change my life, but it worked. My finisher medal, a symbol of my goal achieved. Money can’t buy that kind of emotional cleanse.”


Originally published in TREAD  Issue 36, 2015 and can be found on Zinio – All rights reserved