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Monday, February 20, 2012

100 Year Old Man sets Cycling Record

HEALTH - The health benefits of exercise are a foregone conclusion and cycling is no different.

An hundred year old Frenchman has set a world record for cycling 24.25 km (15.1 miles) in 60 minutes... a feat never done before by someone over the age of 100, thus making it a new record in a new category.

Robert Marchand has always had lots of energey. At the age of 14 he entered his first cycling event under a false name because he was too young.

Marchand's new feat of 24.25 km (15.1 miles) in 60 minutes was watched by crowds of cheering supporters at the International Cycling Union (UCI) velodrome in Aigle, Switzerland. It doesn't even come close to the 49.7 km (30.8 miles) achieved by Czech cyclist Ondrej Sosenka in 2005 at the age of 29, but it is recognized by the UCI in a new over-100s category.

"But I’m not playing at being a champion,” says Marchand. “I just wanted to do something for my 100th birthday.”

Marchand made the trip from his studio in Mitry-Mory (near Paris) to Switzerland to attempt the world hour performance on the center’s velodrome. The suggestion came from Gérard Mistler, president of the Ardéchoise Cyclo-Promotion, an annual cycling event that Marchand never misses. Mistler took care of the administrative side of this new record.

Marchand had four days to familiarize himself with the track before the 1 hour timed event. While his ability to ride non-stop for an hour was not a concern, Marchand's personal cycling history brought back a lot of memories of competitive cycling.

"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,” said Marchand, while it was snowing outside. "I don’t want to catch the flu. So I am short on training."

The velodrome is small and the cyclist is essentially just cycling in circles (a bit like Nascar).

Marchand had been told not to go raise his pulse over 110, but it was not a huge concern for the man. Marchand’s first ever cardiograph last week revealed that his heart was in excellent condition. Still he decided to stay within his limits.

“For the last five years I have decided not to go for rides of more than 100km. There is no point going overboard. I want to keep cycling for some time yet.”

Marchand last competed in the Bordeaux-Paris race at the age of 89, completing the 600km in 36 hours. He has been in so many events in the last 86 years of cycling that Marchand has a mountain pass named after him.

So what else is the secret to Marchand’s great health?

"I’ve never abused anything. I don’t smoke, I never drank much. The only thing I did in excess was work. I retired at 89 years old."

Marchand's many jobs include looking after cattle, working as a gymnastics instructor, 8 years in Venezuela as a driver, 3 years in Canada where he was a lumberjack.

He also enjoyed other sports and competed in them: Boxing, gymnastics and weightlifting.

"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."

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