A 105-year old Frenchman set a world record in his age, despite being told by a coach almost a century earlier that he should give up cycling.
The coach told Robert Marchand that he should give up cycling because he would never achieve anything on a bike – on Wednesday, he proved that statement wrong.
Marchand, 105, set a world record in the age group of 105-plus by riding 22.547 kilometers (14.010 miles) in one hour. The age group was created specifically for the cycling veteran.
“I’m now waiting for a rival,” he said.
Marchand warned before his latest attempt that his form was not as good as his last. Although he set a new record, Marchand still thinks he could have done better.
“I did not see the sign warning me I had 10 minutes left,” Marchand said. “Otherwise I would have gone faster, I would have posted a better time. I’m not tired. I thought my legs would hurt, but they don’t. My arms hurt, you have to hurt somewhere.”
Marchand received a standing ovation from the crowd, while they chanted “Robert, Robert” as he rolled to a stop. He completed 92 laps at Velodrome National, an indoor track near Paris that’s used for elite cycling events.
“I am not here to be champion. I am here to prove that at 105 years old you can still ride a bike,” Marchand said.
Marchand’s coach and friend Gerard Mistler said his secret to still be able to ride is simple. Mistler said Marchand eats fruits and vegetables, doesn’t smoke, drinks wine only on occasion, goes to bed at 9 p.m. and exercises every day.
The centenarian, standing at 4’11” was born November 26, 1911. Marchand was a firefighter in Paris in the 1930’s. He later went on to be a lumberjack and eventually a gardener and a wine dealer.
At age 35 Marchand finished seventh in the Grand Prix des Nations, in 1946. Marchand returned to cycling in 1978 and continues to train even past his 100th birthday.
“I could had made better, if I had seen the record card, otherwise I would have pedaled slightly faster,” Marchand said after finishing the 92 laps around the course.
Marchand is not making plans for the future.
“Setting goals for himself is part of his personality,” Mistler said. “If he tells me he wants to improve his record, I’ll be game. Robert is a great example for all of us.”