The record-breaking Marchand
'I am not here to be a champion. I am here to prove that at 105 years old you can still ride a bike.' The words of Robert Marchand, a French cyclist aged 105, having just set a new record for the furthest distance cycled in one hour. He cycled a massive 22.55km (14 miles) at the national velodrome (Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Paris), claiming top spot in a new category for riders over 105.
The Frenchman completed 92 laps cheered on by hundreds of spectators. As he neared the end of the ride, his fans chanted 'Robert, Robert' and gave him a standing ovation as the stop-clock hit 0:00, before he was duly surrounded by reporters and TV crews. His incredible achievement featured last week on the BBC. View here.
'I am not here to be a champion. I am here to prove that at 105 years old you can still ride a bike.'
Before this latest feat, Marchand already held the record for those aged over 100, cycling 26.93km (16.7 miles), a record he set in 2012. Nonetheless, he still reckons he can do better, suggesting that he would have done in this latest race had he not missed a sign showing 10 minutes to go. 'My legs didn't hurt' he told reporters. 'My arms hurt but that's because of rheumatism'.
Monsieur Marchand was born on 26 November 1911 in Amiens, three years before the outbreak of the first world war. He was a prisoner of war in World War Two. In later life and in more peaceful times, he became a firefighter before moving to Venezuela where he worked as a lorry driver and a sugar cane planter. In-keeping with his tendency towards physical work, he moved to Canada and became a lumberjack.
Despite having various jobs, they left him with no time to practise sports. He was 68 when he began a series of cycling feats, and he puts his fitness down to his diet which consists of plenty of fruit and vegetables, some meat, and a small amount of coffee. Oh, and an hour a day on the indoor cycle at home. Marchand is no stranger to sport outside of cycling, having competed in gymnastics at national level and also boxing in his later years.
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Breaking age-related perceptions
Monsieur Marchand is another example of age not being a barrier. Read our similar themed blog on the Iron Nun, an 86-year-old triathlete who well and truly smashed the concept of ageism. View the post here. Elderly persons are often not physically able like Marchand, but they are mentally able and will push themselves to fulfil their desires. Good care that respects an elderly person's lifestyle and personality is absolutely essential, and Marchand is an example of what can be achieved with support from open minds.
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