At 106, Tireless French Cyclist Hops Back in The Saddle

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French cyclist Robert Marchand, aged 106, cycles at the indoor Velodrome National of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
French cyclist Robert Marchand, aged 106, cycles at the indoor Velodrome National of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, southwest of Paris, France, October 26, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
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By Christian Hartmann
MONTIGNY-LE-BRETONNEUX, France (Reuters)

Centenarian cyclist Robert Marchand donned his lycra shorts again on Friday and rode cautiously around France’s indoor Velodrome National, becoming by far the oldest person to take a spin on the circuit

Marchand, who in 2012 set a world record for a 100-year-old when he cycled 15 miles (24 kilometers) in an hour, turns 107 next month and was supposed to have retired in January.

 

French cyclist Robert Marchand, aged 106, answers media after cycling at the indoor Velodrome National of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
French cyclist Robert Marchand, aged 106, answers media after cycling at the indoor Velodrome National of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, southwest of Paris, France, October 26, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

 

But after more than 90 years in the saddle he insisted on hopping on his bike again, despite medical concerns about the potential strain on his heart.

Decked out in bright yellow-and-purple lycra shorts with a matching crash-helmet and dark sunglasses, Marchand needed some help getting on the bike, struggling to lift his leg over the saddle.

 

French cyclist Robert Marchand, aged 106, cycles at the indoor Velodrome National of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
French cyclist Robert Marchand, aged 106, cycles at the indoor Velodrome National of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, southwest of Paris, France, October 26, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

 

But once seated he was away, trundling around the track at a slow but smooth pace, followed closely by a support rider.

“Even at this age, you can do something,” he said afterwards, enjoying the congratulations of friends.

 

 

“I try to do a little bit of exercise every day, even if it’s just 20 minutes,” said the slight figure, who stands just 4 foot 11 inches (150cm) tall.

“One mustn’t let oneself go soft. The day you just sit in your armchair and stop moving, you’re screwed.”

 

French cyclist Robert Marchand, aged 106, cycles at the indoor Velodrome National of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
French cyclist Robert Marchand, aged 106, cycles at the indoor Velodrome National of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, southwest of Paris, France, October 26, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

 

After completing a few more circuits, Marchand was given a gold medal and a commemorative jersey.

Asked for the secret of his longevity, he was to the point: “Use everything and abuse nothing,” he said.

 

(Writing by Luke Baker)

 

More photos ahead …

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