A Tribute to Anne Mustoe

annemustoeWhen people stopped us on our trip and told us how wonderful it was that we were cycling in our youth, since these things get harder with age, I always told them about Anne Mustoe – the British headmistress who, at age 54 and out of shape, set off to ride her bike around the world.

After telling this story to so many people, in the hopes of inspiring them too to reach for their dreams, I felt like I knew Anne.

I didn’t of course. I’d read a few of her books (A Bike Ride was my constant bedtime companion in the months before our trip began) and marveled at her ability to cover such great distances alone, without knowing how to fix a flat tire or carry camping gear, but I never had the pleasure of meeting her. That didn’t stop me from shedding a tear when I found out about her death in Syria, earlier this month at the age of 76.

Anne was still riding her bike when she died. She’d set off in May for her last journey, making it as far as Aleppo, where she passed away after a short illness, according to The Times. She was still riding Condor, the original bike she started on, about 100,000 miles ago.

We don’t know much more than that and it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that while Anne was pedalling her way around the world, following Roman Roads and tracing the footprints of historical giants like Alexander the Great, she was also teaching us a lesson.

Anne’s legacy, in my mind, is the proof that the most important thing for a successful bike tour is your strength of spirit and desire to make the journey. Everything else is secondary. For that Anne, I thank you and will miss you.


  1. Alex Schwartzman
    30th November 2009 at 8:08 am #

    I am very sorry to hear this sad news of M(r)s. Anne Mustoe’s passing away in Syria, shalom ‘al nafshah.
    I had just sent her an email telling her of how she had inspired me. She will never have a chance to read it. I hope somehow that her spirit will know what her life’s work meant to me, anyway. May her memory live on in the hearts of many and may her story continue to lift the spirits of those whose spirits are floundering.

    With great regard and heaviness of heart, Alex (Alon be Qeni)

  2. Ann Wilson
    30th November 2009 at 1:49 pm #

    I too am sorry to hear of Anne Mustoe’s death. She is the very reason I am now in India after cycling across Europe and some of the Middle East. I was fortunate enough to meet Anne last February and she told me she was cycling to Singapore this year, which meant that I would be following her for much of the way. As I cycled I often wondered how she was doing and where she was. So sad she didn’t complete the trip but perhaps fitting that she died doing what she enjoyed so much. Her memory will live on as long as her books continue to inspire others to take up the challenge.

  3. David Piper
    2nd December 2009 at 6:57 am #

    Anne was a wonderful woman who inspired so many people to embrace their surroundings and educate themselves as they travelled by what we all recognise as the best form of transport to do so.

    She will be missed but her work will go on to inspire many generations yet

  4. Maureen O'Shea
    3rd December 2009 at 1:55 am #

    How sad I am at hearing of Anne Mustoe’s death. Not only did she inspire me to contemplate cycling around the world, she is an example of one person’s ability to change the world’s view about what is possible, and what is possible for a “woman of a certain age”. Many of us limit our lives by what we believe is possible, not knowing that much larger possibilities and dreams are achievable.

  5. Celie J
    6th December 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    Oh I hadn’t read that Anne M had died, she is so inspirational and I feel very sad but how wonderful to go while on a trip. I am plucking up courage, might even do it but Anne’s passing removes a bit of a prop for me, no real reason, just a feeling that she won’t be ‘there’.

  6. Phyll Hardie
    24th February 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    I have just heard about Anne Mustoe’s death, over a year late, and I must say how very sad I feel. Anne was a great inspiration to anyone thinking of taking up cycling in later life. She achieved so much, and writing it down for all of us to read will let her memory live on.

  7. Ian
    17th September 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    I have all of Anne’s books. A fantastic mix of personal experiences and history lessons all in one read. It will soon be two years since Anne’s death. How time flys and also a remminder to go for our dreams.

  8. Richard
    30th November 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    Just started reading A Bike Ride for the 3rd time and found out Anne had passed away back in 2009. She was the inspiration that took my wife and I from England to Australia on a tandem – a great woman!

  9. Margaret Sunshine Coast Australia
    29th December 2011 at 8:44 am #

    I had read Anne’s book “A Bike Ride” when I was preparing to ride around Australia in 1989. What an interesting book! Later when she was in the process of riding around the world for the second time and she came to Australia, I met her in Townsville, and we spent a couple of weeks, riding to a cousin at Mingela, and then through to Charters
    Towers where I turned south to our home in Clermont, and she went on to Darwin, with a copy of the log of my ride 6 weeks earlier. She found riding through Australia very dull and uninteresting compared to other lands, and had to sleep in a tent for the very first time. But still no cooking for Anne! l had 13 flats on the way to Darwin, but Anne was not at all interested in learning to mend a puncture. . . I think her writing did so much for womens’ cycle touring, and hopefully inspired many others to cycle tour. She was never a match for Dervla Murphy who is in a class of her own, but in her own way she certainly filled in the kilometres and the maps!

  10. Donna
    4th July 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    Just found out today about Anne passing away in 2009 .I don’t. Know why I didn’t hear sooner I have read most of her books and decided to google her to see what she was doing .so sad and shocked she was a great inspiration and my silk sleeping bag (a travel must have) was bought after reading about it in”Lone Traveller” She was a true insperation

  11. Ian
    4th July 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Donna, simply was not widely reported. I too, found out by sheer fluke when it had happened.

    • Donna
      4th February 2014 at 11:07 pm #

      Yes for someone who was so remarkable and insperational it was so sad not to find out at the time .I have ended up here again by chance aft googling her name to find out if anyone had said what happened .

    • Donna
      4th February 2014 at 11:12 pm #

      Very sad considering how insperational she was

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