105-Year-Old Frenchman Sets New Record in Distance Cycling
Sports| | By Margo Gothelf
Meet Robert Marchand, a 105-year-old man proving that age is just a number.
The French cycler set the new world record in the 105-plus age category for the longest distance cycled in one hour. Marchand managed to cycle 14 miles (22.547km) in the category created just for him.
“I did not see the sign warning me I had 10 minutes left,” Marchand told NBC Sports. “Otherwise I would have gone faster, I would have posted a better time. I’m now waiting for a rival.”
This isn’t the first world record that Marchand has set in cycling. In 2012, Marchand cycled 16.73 miles (26.927 kilometers) to set the mark in the over-100s category.
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“I’m not here to break any record,” Marchard said to CyclingWeekly. “I’m doing it to prove that at 105 years old you can still ride a bike.”
Marchard’s doctor and physiologist, Veronique Billat, thought the 105-year-old could have pushed further for a higher record.
“He could have been faster but he made a big mistake,” Billat said to the Associated Press. “He has stopped eating meat over the past month after being shocked by recent reports on how animals are subjected to cruel treatment.”
He continued, “He’s got two essential qualities. A big heart that pumps a lot of blood, and he can reach high heart beat values that are exceptional for his age. If he starts eating meat again and builds more muscle, he can better this mark.”
About a century ago, Marchand was told to quit the sport of cycling by a coach who told him he would never achieve anything. Over the years, Marchand has worked around the world in countries such as Venezuela and Canada as a truck driver and lumberjack.
He returned to France in the 1960s, where he took up cycling again at the age of 68.
“If the president of his teenage club who told him he was not made for cycling because he was too small could see him today, he would kick himself,” Marchand’s coach and good friend Gerard Mistler told the AP.
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So, what is Marchand’s secret to success?
Mistler explained that his friend keeps a very healthy lifestyle “with a lot of fruits and vegetables, no smoking, just the occasional glass of wine and exercising on a daily basis.”
“He never pushed his limits, goes to bed at 9 p.m. and wakes up at 6 a.m., there’s no other secret,” Mistler said to the AP. “If had been doping, he would not be there anymore.”
Marchand is not sure what the future has in store for him, but his coach wouldn’t be surprised to see him back on his bike.
“Setting goals for himself is part of his personality,” Mistler told the AP. “If he tells me he wants to improve his record, I’ll be game. Robert is a great example for all of us.”