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Forever Young: Joan Reinhardt Reiss

Posted by Carol Sicbaldi

Joan Reinhardt Reiss grew up in Kew Gardens Hill, New York, the daughter of a stay-at-home mother and an athletic father who taught her to ride a bike - a too-big blue two-wheeler - at age 7.

Joan_age 7_NYC

Her family encouraged her active pursuits, which included handball, tag, and swimming. Joan spent the rest of her childhood in New York, receiving an excellent education in public schools and then as a chemistry major at Queens College of the City University of New York. In 1959, she married the brother of a good friend. Joan and her husband Mark lived in California, New York, and Baltimore as Joan worked as a chemist and attended graduate school and Mark completed medical school and began work as a doctor. They had two lovely children, and Joan eventually decided to leave her studies at Johns Hopkins to care of them. Mark found a new job in California, and the family discovered that they loved life on the West Coast.

In 1969, with the kids happily attending neighborhood schools in Sacramento, Joan began working as an environmental and health lobbyist, supporting, opposing, and creating laws that would affect the environment and health of Californians. Sports, especially skiing, biking, and tennis, remained Joan’s passion, and she pushed herself to new achievements. In the 1970’s, she began running, and in short order had completed a marathon in under three hours! Many marathons later, at age 51, she completed the Western States 100 Mile Run to earn the famous gold buckle.


Over the next decade, Joan and Mark spent more and more time biking, completing many 100-mile and multi-day events, and eventually, at age 61, the Tour of the California Alps. Known as ‘The Death Ride,’ this extremely challenging event entails 124 miles and 16,000 feet of climbing over 5 mountain passes, all in less than 24 hours. She nearly finished the first attempt, and her second try the following year was successful.

Joan has never let accidents, injuries, or disappointments discourage her from leading an exciting life full of physical activity. Many running and cycling events required several attempts to complete in the allotted time; she broke her humerus in a skiing accident in 1998, and had double knee replacements in 2014, yet at 81 she is still touring the world by bike and says she is a better black diamond skier now than 20 years ago!

One of the things Joan loves most about being active is how it lets her experience the world more deeply and completely. She has traveled all over, as far as Borneo and Brazil, soaking up the mountains, forests, rolling green hills, and sweeping views wherever she finds them. After all her travels, Italy and California remain her favorite places!

Recently, Joan has had fun staring in a Specialized commercial with three time World Cycling Champion Peter Sagan and, further evidence of her boundless energy and open mind––is excited about the career possibilities as advertising and voice-over talent!

Joan will be joining our September 2019 Piedmont: Barolo & Truffles.



Forever Young

Written by Carol Sicbaldi

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