LYON, France (AFP) — At 100 years old, Robert Marchand on Friday established a centenarian record for the fastest 100 kilometers by bicycle. He set the record of 4:17:27, with an average speed of slightly more than 23 kph (14.3 mph), in Lyon, France.
Marchand had already established another record earlier this year in Switzerland when he completed 24.251 kilometers in an hour.
He completed 300 laps on the track this time, a challenge followed by many media and broadcast live on France 3 Rhône-Alpes.
“I did a little better than I hoped,” he said. “However, the going was tough in the last few kilometers.”
Marchand said shortly before the start that he was not stressed and had slept and eaten well.
“I’m going to set the world record for the over-100 age group over 100km,” he declared Thursday in the Parc de la Tête d’Or Velodrome, where he tested the track, dressed in the colors of his club, Ardéchoise.
“I feel like a guy who is a hundred years old, I feel good. I’m an ordinary guy,” he said. “I rode a bike for 52 years, it is not new today. I started cycling at age 14, there was the war, and after I have been abroad.”
Marchand, who has lived in Canada and Venezuela and whose professional life has included stints as a market gardener, show salesman and wine dealer, said he only took to cycling again when he bought his first bike in 1978.
The age category of over-100 was specifically created for Marchand in February, when he set the hour record in Switzerland.
Marchand, who stands five feet tall and weighs 112 pounds, has raced eight Bordeaux-Paris, four Paris-Roubaix, and twelve Ardéchoises, but he does not want to be “treated as a phenomenon.”
“On September 2, I made the last 100km of Paris-Cambrai. I did the last 50 kilometers of Paris-Honfleur, too,” he said, before saying it was “no secret” to explain his good shape.
“All my life, I used all but I never abused, I have never smoked nor drank except for festive occasions, and in women I did not indulge too much,” he said before the start, laughing under his helmet.