Marchand to make new hour record attempt at 102 years of age
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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Marchand to make new hour record attempt at 102 years of age

by Shane Stokes at 1:54 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Frenchman continues to inspire and to astound scientists

Robert MarchandAfter previously setting marks for the hour record and 100 kilometres at over 100 years of age, French inspiration Robert Marchand is at it again; now almost 102 years old, he is planning to once again extend his hour record mark.

On February 17th of last year he travelled to the World Cycling Centre is Aigle, Switzerland, and rode 24.251 kilometres in an hour. He had been instructed beforehand by doctors not to exceed 110 beats per minute, and so rode within himself to go at that speed.

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

On September 28th he was at it again, heading to the Parc de la Tête d’Or Velodrome in Lyon and riding 300 laps. He covered the 100 kilometre distance in four hours 17 minutes 27 seconds, again setting a new standard.

Once again, he showed modesty about the achievement. “I feel like a guy who is a hundred years old, I feel good. I’m an ordinary guy,” he said then. “I rode a bike for 52 years, it is not new today.”

Now he wants to try the hour record once more, with INSERM [Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, or National Institute of Health and Medical Research – ed.] professor Véronique Billat announcing the bid today.

“We prepare Robert Marchand for the world record of an hour above 25 km/h in January he will be 102 yrs old,” she wrote on Twitter. “He improved his VO2max (35) and his maximal power by 10% by the strength component, especially 2.65 w/kg of full body mass with 13% fat mass.”

Marchand’s birthday takes place this month and he’s continuing to push the limits for his age.

He trains regularly, lives alone, is self-sufficient and continues to drive. He is just five feet tall (1m52), but is in superb health.

Born in 1911, Marchand started cycling at 14 years of age, then later left France and lived in Canada and Venezuela. He worked as a fireman, market gardener, show salesman and wine dealer, and competed as an amateur boxer. He returned to cycling in 1978 at 67 years of age, building up the distances and training with riders who were far younger than he was.

He finally retired from work at 89 years of age and around that time rode the Bordeaux-Paris event. He covered 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 in February of last year, when he lay down an age-related hour record of 24.251 kilometres.

“There is no point going overboard. I want to keep cycling for some time yet.”

Prior to setting his 100 kilometre age record last September, he was asked if he would use any performance-enhancing substances during his attempt. “The only doping for me is water with a spoonful of honey that I put in my canteen [water bottle] - that's it,” he answered then, before joking, “if I was doping, though, maybe I could hit 35 km/h.”

He explained his key to life, and fitness. “I am lucky that I haven’t had any major health problems. 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…”

Marchand’s extraordinary physical shape has captivated the attention of many, not least the scientists at the Inserm public research institute. They study him every three months, and are impressed by what they see.

“They told me I had the constitution of a 55-year-old man, they think it's genetic,” he told Reuters last year. “I have never deprived myself of anything: not wine, not food, not women, but always with moderation.”

Hour record footage from September 2012:


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