At 52-years old and 20+ years of racing, Cresco, Pennsylvania’s Laura van Gilder continues to win big on the professional circuit. The diminutive sprinter won three of the East Coast criterium jewels this year, Somerville, The Armed Forces Cycling Classic and the grand Harlem Skyscraper Classic, with three other fine wins adding to her season’s tally so far. Van Gilder has been a top force in at the Thompson Bucks County Classic since the inception of its Doylestown Health Women’s race, placing 2nd in 2014 & 2015, and 4th last year.
The Pennsylvanian, who races for the Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers team on the road, took a late career interest in cyclocross, the off-road racing style that has grown exponentially in popularity over the past years. She credits the Fall/Winter discipline with keeping her motivated and most importantly, very fit on a year-round basis. Asked about her age in a VeloNews interview, Van Gilder had this to say: “I think experience plays a bigger role than age. Look at Jeannie Longo at 50-plus years old winning races and national titles. She has set the standard. I just have lots of experience in my suitcase of courage that helps me along the way! I’ll continue to race as long as I am enjoying it and am able.”
If there ever come a moment to hang up her wheels and pin on the final racing number, Laura Van Gilder plans to dedicate herself to animal-welfare advocacy, finding homes for unwanted animals, especially dogs. She credits cycling for giving her a solid foundation in life and sharpening the traits that have always defined her: motivation, dedication to goals, problem solving and an ability to suffer for success.