Rebelle Rally Champion and Expedition Overland co-founder, Rachelle Croft, sits down with X Overland Podcast host, Jimmy Lewis, to discuss her path to personal growth through a life of adventure, challenge, and competition.
Rachelle’s own journey of personal discovery led her to Morocco where she participated in The Rallye de Aicha Des Gazelles, a female-only, nine day navigation-based rally through the Sahara Desert.
In this special one-hour + episode, Rachelle shares the details of this life-changing experience, discussing everything from the source of inspiration to participate to being lost in the desert after the start of the rally.
Rachelle further shares her experience in working through depression, coping with “mom-guilt,” and navigating her marriage while pushing to pursue her own unique dreams and goals.
Join us for this powerful episode filled with insight about obstacles–both external and internal–and how to overcome them to live your best life.
Detailed Episode Summary
Part 1 (1:30-6:15) Intro/What inspires Rachelle? At 38-years-old, Rachelle Croft has accomplished a lot with her life. How does she move forward and continue growing? That is what she shares here. Podcasts, audiobooks, disciplined journaling, and taking the offensive rather than reacting by making space for herself are all ways in which Rachelle stays strong and continues to grow.
Part 2 (6:30-12:00) All About the Croft Family Solo Series: Rachelle explains what inspired her and Clay to shoot The Croft Family Solo Series and shares her perspective on the experience. Rachelle’s share the backstory behind her feature article in Overland Journal, “The Good Life.”
Part 3 (12:30-18:30) Why did Rachelle travel to Morocco? Rachelle and Jimmy discuss Rachelle’s decision to begin navigational rally racing and her adventure to Morocco to compete in The Rally de Gazelles . Rachelle explains key details of her past that lead up to her developing an interest in rally. The challenge of being a supportive spouse and parent and still supporting yourself and your own identity, dreams, and goals.
Part 4 (18:30-21:30) Who is Emily Miller and what is The Rallye de Gazelles? Rachelle explains the mentorship and inspiration she received from off-road rally champion, Emily Miller, along with a description of both The Rallye de Gazelles in Morocco and Rebelle Rally in the U.S.
Part 5 (21:50-24:40) The Spark to join the Rally de Gazelles and Travel to Morocco: Now, with connections to the world of rally raid, Rachelle explains the exact moment that lit the fire in her to do the Rally de Gazelles. The nudge from Clay, Brian McVickers, Scott Brady, and Ben Meddows at the SEMA Auto Show that made the difference. The discussion with Clay about family, personal ambition, business, and whether or not Rachelle should join the rally.
Part 6 (24:40-31:00) The founding of Xelles Racing and the Process of Organizing for Participation in The Rally de Gazelles: Rachelle explains the extensive organization effort behind her participation in The Rally de Gazelles and how she procured sponsors and financial support from her fan base. Rachelle’s story here touches on the power of sharing your dreams so others can have an opportunity to support you.
Part 7 (31:00-37:50) Rachelle and Julie’s Arrival in Europe for The Rally de Gazelles! Rachelle and Julie touch down in Paris, pick up their FJ Cruiser, and begin their odyssey through to Morocco to start the rally. Rachelle shares all the challenges of dealing with language barriers, navigation, checking in their vehicle, and the simple everyday life issues like obtaining currency and finding meals.
Part 8 (37:50-43:00) While Rachelle is in Europe starting the rally, how is Clay faring at home with the kids? How is Rachelle feeling about her involvement in the rally at this point? Clay is holding the fort with the help of grandparents while still working hard to establish Expedition Overland. Why Rachelle begins to question her decision to join the rally at this point and how she overcame that feeling to continue on her journey into the rally. The need to be able to take your mistakes in stride and Rachelle and her partner’s Julie’s goal for the rally: to have fun, to learn, and to finish.
Part 9 (43:00-52:00) The actual start of the rally and what that felt like: Rachelle shares what it felt like to be at the starting line of The Rally de Gazelles, the difference between being competitive and challenging yourself, and what she learned from being on an off-road challenge without Clay. Rachelle explains the difference she sees between men and women and their approach to making mistakes and exploring situations and the empowerment and personal growth that came from her participation in the rally.
Part 10 (52:10-56:50) Lost in the Desert! Rachelle tells the story of the first four days of the rally and her and her partner being lost in the desert. It’s a navigational rally, and Rachelle is able to underscore the challenge of this experience. Rachelle and Jimmy also explore the phenomenon of getting lost on a psychological and emotional level. Plus, what it’s like to drive cross-country through an open desert.
Part 11 (56:50-57:50) Sleeping in the Desert and the Bivouac: What is the rally bivouac like? What happens if you don’t make it back to the bivouac before dark?
Part 12 (58:00-1:07:20) Learning to Drive Sand Dunes in the Sahara: Rachelle shares her experience of learning to drive in sand and the challenges of navigating sand dunes in the Sahara. Rachelle and her partner have a trying moment, and Rachelle explains the process of doing a “reset” and how this can help you persevere in difficult situations on a rally and in life.
Part 13 (1:07:20-1:15:00) Finding her way to the finish line, completing the rally, and moving forward to future goals: Rachelle describes the feeling of accomplishment in finishing the rally and the real camaraderie experience among all of the women participating. The value of setting realistic goals and how you move forward after accomplishing them. Risk-assessment, the power of saying “no,” and how to move out of your comfort zone.
Part 14 (1:15:00-1:22:00) What did Rachelle learn from competing in the rally? Having accomplished her goal of finishing the rally, what did Rachelle learn? About herself? About life? How did she grow as a person and what were the takeaways? The values and benefits that come with parenting through an adventurous lifestyle.
Part 15 (122:20-End) Rachelle’s advice for personal growth: Rachelle offers her advice for how to get out of the rut, off of the plateau, and begin growing as a person. Techniques for self-discovery and the value of counseling and therapy are discussed. What does the future look like for Rachelle and what’s her involvement in Expedition Overland’s Season 5, The Nordic Series?
Follow Rachelle on Instagram: @rachellle_croft
Rachelle’s Rally Experiences Featured on YouTube!
Footage of the Rachelle’s Moroccan Rally Experience featured in Expedition Overland
Rachelle’s win of the Rebelle Rally in 2019!
Rachelle’s Featured Article in Overland Journal, “The Good Life”
More Resources Featuring Rachelle
Interviewing Rachelle Croft, Competitive Adventure Driver and Overlander
Rachelle’s Favorite Podcasters
How I Built This
Rachelle’s Recently Listened to Audiobooks
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (favorite fiction!)