UPDATED October 23, 2023

BY Guest Author

IN Cycle Touring Advice


UPDATED October 23, 2023

BY Guest Author

IN Cycle Touring Advice


You Are Never Too Old To Cycle The World With TDA Global Cycling: Women’s Edition


Judith Gold, who rode the 2022 Bamboo Road, considers ‘How Old Is Too Old’ for women cyclists in response to her brother,TDA Founder Henry Gold’s, recent piece – Am I Too Old To Cycle The World With TDA Global Cycling?

I was out cycling the other day and thinking about my upcoming TDA adventure, the legendary Tour d’Afrique Cycling Expedition. I remembered a recent TDA Global Cycling blog about How Old is Too Old and I wondered, how many more rides like it would there be in my future?  As a 66 year old woman, this is not a theoretical question, not least because of a conversation I had with another woman cyclist on my last TDA ride, the Bamboo Road in 2022. She was a strong cyclist, like nearly all the riders in that group, but confided in me that she thought there were only few more trips in her future because she was already 62 years old.

I was taken by surprise, because there were several men on that ride that were near or over 70, all fantastic riders. When I pushed back, she responded, “women lose muscle mass faster than men.” I don’t know if that is true, and I don’t want to Google it (but feel free to do so if you like). Science is about averages, which means that while her claim may be true for the majority of people (which could mean as little as 51 percent), there are many that beat the odds (perhaps the other 49 percent?). Moreover, in this case, I think ignorance is bliss! If I don’t know this to be true, I will keep going as long as I can despite what science tells me is possible.

Then there are Miriam and Jackie – two amazing women cyclists in their 70’s. They are not the fastest in the group, but who cares! They have now become my role models. On my first trip with TDA, the Great American Road Trip in 2021, there were more than a couple of men in their 70’s. But I only met these two women that are still riding in their 70’s. That is not to say that there are not other women riders of that age riding with TDA. So who are these two amazing women?

Miriam (L) & Jackie (R)

The first is Miriam Gold, a mom and grandma (and my sister-in-law). For most of her life, you could be forgiven if you thought Miriam would barely ride a slow 10 miles, if that. She was not particularly athletic, too busy raising 3 kids and being a corporate lawyer. After she retired, in her late 50’s, she took up cycling in order to spend more time with her husband, my oldest brother Thomas, who was keen to ride with TDA. Their first trip was in 2010, the Amber Route, followed by 8 more rides. At 74, she is still going strong, and while she now does not necessarily ride the full distance every day, she is still biking about 80 percent of the route and having a blast. She told me that, “her last trip, the Journey to the East, was pretty tough – lots and lots of up. They don’t call them the Japanese Alps for nothing.

Then there is Jackie Silverberg. Jackie is also a mom, a former entrepreneur and a teacher. I met her as a sectional rider on the Great American Road Trip. We overlapped for about two weeks. I was relieved that I was no longer the last rider, just the penultimate one (haha!). Jackie is a tiny thing and I was worried that she could easily be blown off her bike by some of the high winds we experienced on our ride across America. That trip was her second sectional ride with TDA, having completed the Cairo to Khartoum section in 2019 on the Tour d’Afrique. Since our meeting in 2021, when she was already 70 years old, she has completed the full Trans-Oceania and Journey to the East (with Miriam, no less). Her next trip is going to be Magical Madagascar in 2025.

So what is their secret? Miriam does the regular 70+ year old stuff –walks, gym, dance lessons and of course, riding her bike (but only in good weather). She finds that some preparation (which is a challenge for Spring rides because of the climate in the Northeast USA) allows her to start the ride and train up as she goes – “I am really prepared by the end of the ride!” Feeling wonderful and so in shape after the ride makes her want to do it again. And so she does.

Jackie stays in shape by running and hiking. She wants to see the world. By bike! She can do the distances, even if slowly, and can complete most of the riding. She plans to keep going until she can’t, and then switch to an e-bike when she has to. Both women are a great inspiration and, with them in mind, I am planning to do all the TDA rides; well maybe not the Trans-Himalaya, that may be just a tad too hard, but who knows…

To my concerned female friend from the Bamboo Road ride, if you are reading this, I really think you should reconsider your position. I am hoping that we will be riding together when we are both in our 70’s.


22 Comments for "You Are Never Too Old To Cycle The World With TDA Global Cycling: Women’s Edition"

I love this! Thanks for featuring older women riders. I look forward to my first TDA trip with amazing women like these.

Hello Nellie’s mother and Henry’ sister. Heard about you when doing the first Transoceania in 2014 where you apparently still was pursuing your career.. Realize that the Gold family is one of strong genes and pursuing an active lifestyle. I belong to the same breed. Have done 8 Tda trips since I was 57 the last being The Odyssey this spring. I am born in 1953 and therefore approaching my 70 years birthday. I was a bit worried going on first Tda trip since 2018 but it appeared. that I relatively quickly found my old shape. I am not the fastest but not the slowest either. My mantra is to keep on doing as much (skiing, cycling, hiking swimming/dipping (summer/winter) in the ocean as long as possible. Until now with succes. I have signed up to the 2024 Viva Italia and am on the waiting list for next years Journey to the east and The Olive thing in 2025. Hope to meet you out there one day. Enjoy Tour d’Afrique!

    So cool! I loved following Nellie on that trip, but it was a real tough one! Looking forward to meeting you on the Journey to the East 2025, we are signed up. Nellie remembers you and sends warm regards!

Judith, I’ve just cycled Japan with Miriam and Jackie, and as the youngest female rider, at 54, I was mind-blown by the resilience, determination and laconic humour of both. They were inspirational and wonderful company. I, too, am consistently surprised at how few women cycle, both short and long distances, compared to the men – across all ages. It’s the perfect mode of exercise for us. Journey to the East was my first TDA, but if there’s more company like Miriam, Jackie and the other great women on other TDA tours, I’ll be back for more!

    We were a great group of women on that ride. The best.

Well, it’s true about muscle mass in women. So use it or lose it! I’m SO EXCITED to be doing the Orient Express ride next summer – I’ll be 54 by then – and I hope it’s the first of many epic cycling adventures in my future! My fitness & condition coach is putting a great training plan together for me this week.

Hi Judith, I wish I had met you, however I did cycle with Henry, Tom and Miriam, even met your Mom. I started with TdA at 59, was the oldest female then, and cycled together with the youngest, at mere 20, on the TdA trademark route, Tour d’Afrique, Cairo to Capetown . Perhaps, I still hold the record of being on 3 back to back tours with only a week apart each. To date, there are a total of 12 tours I had done with TdA.
At 73, I am still doing cycling tours, albeit not with TdA. Yes, age is just a number and we’re as old as we think we are.

Thank you for this article! I’m a 50 year old woman and it is inspiring!

Agree it’s nice to see older female riders given a voice! I just started cycling about 18 months ago, I’m almost 68 (one more month to go), gosh I wish I had started a lot sooner!

I ride with the local group in my town called GEARS. Men definitely outnumber women on these group rides, often times I’m the only woman on the ride. I am riding 4-5 days a week usually 30-60 miles. I really fell in love with cycling. One night the GEARS group had a presentation by a women in the group on a TDA tour she rode to Patagonia. I was sooooo inspired by her presentation, I got on the TDA website and was looking at the tours.

The first one that really caught my eye was the Hippie Trail ride in India…. however they were actually riding that tour at the time I discovered it, and would not be riding it again until 2025. Instead I decided to sign up for the 2023 Golden Buddha Ride. I was so stressed about being able to keep up and ride the hill climbs (I’m not a great hill climber) that several months ago I canceled the ride.

Now, after riding all winter, spring and summer, I feel a lot stronger and more capable/confident about riding that ride I cancelled. I know it won’t be easy and that’s ok, I am not afraid of taking on a challenge, haha. I definitely have my eye on the 2025 Hippie Trail ride. Reading posts like this are really helpful for building more confidence for people like me I think.

We also have a woman named Jackie that rides with our group, she is 78 and can ride circles around me, she’s one of the best hill climbers I know.

Thanks for the inspiration Judith and good luck on the Tour d’Afrique! That’s going to be EPIC!

    Erin – let your mantra be ‘Just do it’……it’s better to try than not to try at all. The Hippie Trail is a fantastic trip and an unforgettable experience – ‘Just do it’

    I’ve often said there’s not a mountain I can’t walk up!!

I totally agree, the oldest recorded woman, Jeanne Clement, lived to be 122, and she bicycled often till she was 100. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanne_Calment She was in France, but I don’t think that should slow us down. I am 70, belong to a cycling club and recently found a wonderful podcast called Cycling Over sixty.” It has all sorts of good nuggets like an interview with a trainer who says “Complete, not Compete.” I would also like to cycle across country, again, now that I have my 28 lb ebike.
Cycle on,

Thank you Judith for a wonderful article. I have done quite a few of Henry’s trips and they have been life-changing. I thought at this age (77) I was too old to do more, but reading your article, maybe not!! My husband and I talk almost every day about our fabulous experiences (the TdA 2004) and I still get a pang when I read the TdA newsletters. You never know!!!


What a great blog. Thanks. I too am 66, born in 1957. I’ve been toying with cycling on a TDA trip as a journalist/writer-on-bike and while it has almost worked out, it hasn’t happened — yet.

I just returned from a 750km hike through the Austrian Alps, Slovenian Julian Alps and Italy nearer the Adriatic. It was hard. Our hills here in Caledon just outside Toronto just can’t provide the six or seven hour climbs required. But I made it. Slow and steady. It was an amazing trip along the Alpe Adria Trail.

As I was walking, I realized that a change has occurred. It used to be that “old people” were older than I was. But now I recognize that many “old people” are younger, sometimes much younger, than I am. In some ways, women like me and the ones mentioned in Judith’s blog are lucky. We don’t have physical challenges/diseases that precludes us from riding a bicycle across Africa. But there is more than luck involved. There is a frame of mind that keeps one young and active.

In my upcoming book about hiking the Bruce Trail, I talk about my good friend and partner in hiking/biking adventures, Susan. I called her up one day when I was hiking the trial (mostly solo) and asked her, Want to hike with me on Friday? How far she, asked? About 27km. How long will it take? About 8 hours. I recall thinking, how many women do I know (BTW, Susan was also born in 1957) who I can call up and ask them to go hiking for 8 hours — tomorrow?

Seems we need more younger old women — or is it older young women?

Great and inspiring blog. For years I’ve been looking at the Tour d’Afrique but I figured it would be too hard. Now I have to wonder about just how young I am.

I love all these comments! Very inspiring.

To those that are concerned about not being able to do it, I have to agree with MURIEL THOMSON, “just do it”.

I did not mention in my blog, that I barely rode before I retired, 3 years ago, and I had the cheapest Giant bike on the market. But given my connection with TDA, I was determined, and after purchasing a better bike (not too easy in the midst of COVID) and some not too intense training, i joined the GART for part of the trip, in 2021, where I met Jackie. So yes, “just do it”. And then there is always the support vehicle, haha.

Good luck to you all, and I hope we get to ride together. sometimes.

I have been saying “this will be my last TDA trip” for a few years now. This summer my husband and I rode Journey to the East and the first half of Trans-Europa, and I’m now 76. We are signed up for the Pub Ride for next year, which was definitely going to be my last TDA trip. However, Trans-Himalaya is calling me to the mountains and I can’t resist, so maybe that will DEFINITELY be my last trip. I’ll be 78, so we will do some serious training for that ride, including riding in Colorado (not too far from our Tucson home). There were times this summer when I felt stronger than I did a few years ago, so I am also using the mantra – “just do it”. I’m hoping with a good training plan and a good mental attitude that we can conquer Trans Himalaya!

Position reconsidered!

thanks for the blog and comments ….. i did the Bamboo ride 6 years ago… Shanghai to Singapore 7320kms ride ! ….. to celebrate my 70th birthday !!….and got an EFI!….. since then i have done a 950 kms ride in South Africa and have continued to ride regularly in Australia so hopefully not too old.. yet!! thinking about riding Japan! ….. well done and good luck ladies for more happy riding !! cheers Ann

Hi Judith. Me again! You have really started something, I reached out to two of my “senior women cyclists” (I did the TdA with one, and the Silk Route with the other) and they wrote back and said “if you do it, I’ll do it”!!!!!!!! NO PRESSURE! You’ve certainly given us something to think about, and for that I THANK YOU so much.

    Fantastic, join me on the Journey to the East in 2025!

      Okay, Edwina…..we’re on.

From one Judith to another,… Well done on your cycling and article!
I cycled Cape to Cairo with my husband Michael in 2017 and then we did the North American Epic in 2022 .
“You are never too old to learn”, and as another saying goes, “Life begins at 40” – which is when I learnt how to cycle for the first time!
I will turn 66 next birthday and Michael 70, and we enjoy cycling more and more. The over 70s ladies (and men) are a real inspiration!
SHARING a TDA Tour makes memories for life and not a day goes by that we do not think of our life-long memories, acquaintances and friends made on our TDA Tours!

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