100 year old sets first-ever hour record mark for his age group
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Friday, February 17, 2012

100 year old sets first-ever hour record mark for his age group

by VeloNation Press at 11:59 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Robert Marchand writes his name in history in Aigle

Robert MarchandThe oldest ever track record has been established by the Frenchman Robert Marchand who, over two months after turning 100 years of age, travelled to the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland and established the mark of 24.251 kilometres.

“I’m not playing at being a champion,” he said. “I just wanted to do something for my 100th birthday.”

The achievement is more about the staggering feat of setting a mark at his age rather than the distance covered, particularly as he could have gone faster. Because of his age, doctors have instructed him not to exceed 110 beats per minutes.

He obeyed that guideline during his effort, but admitted doing more recently. “I did climb a steep hill not long ago and went up to 134, but it’s best to avoid that,” he said, smiling. “But I would be very surprised if I had heart attack.”

Marchand underwent his first ever heart scan last week, and was told afterwards that he was in excellent condition.

Amazingly, the last time he was on a track was long before world war II. As a result, he spent four days prior to setting the mark familiarising himself with the Aigle velodrome. “I haven’t cycled on a track for 80 years. You have to get used to the fixed gear. I prefer cycling outside but that is impossible at the moment,” he said. “I don’t want to catch the flu, so I am short on training.”

While many far younger than him have stopped activity, Marchand has kept on going. “I am lucky that I haven’t had any major health problems,” he said. “My advice to anyone, young or old, is to keep moving. I do ‘physical culture’ every day. It works out my whole body and keeps me supple.

“Some people when they reach 80 years old, start playing cards and they stay immobile. Not me. I’ve never been able to keep still…”

Asked about his longevity and level of activity, Marchand said that he has looked after himself during his life. “I’ve never abused anything,” he explained. “I don’t smoke, I never drank much. The only thing I did in excess was work. I retired at 89 years old!”

Around about that time, he competed in the Bordeaux-Paris event, riding the 600 kilometres in 36 hours. More recently, he’s limited the distance, although he still does a considerable amount. “For the last five years I have decided not to go for rides of more than 100km,” he said. “There is no point going overboard. I want to keep cycling for some time yet.”

Marchand clearly hasn’t tired of the sport he took up as a teenager, and was pleased to take up a request of Gérard Mistler, the président of the Ardéchoise Cyclo-Promotion cyclo-sportif that he rides each year. Mistler asked him to head to the Aigle track to set a mark for the distance; Marchand did so, and has now made history.

Others may aim for his mark in the future, but it’s safe to say that its likely to be a long time off. There aren’t many 100 year old cyclists around, and even less in as solid a physical condition as the Frenchman.

“I think he is a human example of the benefits of cycling,” said Mistler, clearly impressed. He’s not the only one.


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