The Secret Sauce To Centenarian Cyclist Success

robert marchand

“I did not see the sign warning me I had 10 minutes left. Otherwise I would have gone faster…”


Next time you feel like giving up on a hard ride, remember that this is the fighting talk of a 105 year-old man!

If anyone needs a reminder of their limits, or their perceived limits, look no further than this swinging centenarian.

Marchand, a Frenchman who took up cycling in his retirement, recently rode 14 miles in one hour. This set a new distance record in a category that was invented solely to accommodate his advanced age!

The furthest distance cycled in one hour is 33.881 miles by world record holder Bradley Wiggins, but for riders over 105, Marchand is king.

What is the Secret of His Success?

“With doping I could have ridden faster,” Marchand joked after the race, “But there is no doping. I only have water with some honey in my bottle here.”

Infact, his success would seem to be down to nothing more than an optimistic mindset and a healthy lifestyle.

Marchand claims to eat a diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, a little meat, and the occasional indulgent glass of wine. No smoking, and no skipping his daily session on the cross-trainer.

This dedication comes from a man who only took up sports after retiring from work in his late sixties: A real life example of what it is possible to achieve with persistence, optimism, and a relentlessly active approach to life.

Just as the sun warms a flower each day, repetition and persistence leads to growth and achievement. This routine might not be an elixir of youth, but it does show that the onset of decrepitness is not inevitable in life.

This man can probably ride longer than individuals 70 years his junior, and almost definitely longer than most individuals 25 years younger, which is a staggeringly long amount of time at such an advanced age!

This means while his contemporaries, or his juniors at 80+, are sitting down to play cards and bridge in the nursing home, Marchand is in motion, eating up miles on his cross-trainer.

The only issue with his longevity seems to be his lack of similarly-aged rivals! Despite having many friends, unsurprisingly there are few centenarian athletes.


“Otherwise I would have gone faster. I would have posted a better time. I’m now waiting for a rival.”


As a Frenchman, Marchand is in good company, sharing his longevity and witty take on life with the woman who lived to the grand old age of 122 years. Jeanne Louise Calment, a French lady who when asked at her 120th birthday what kind of future she expected, replied tersely “a very short one”. Calment herself was still cycling until the age of 100.

Another example is the late Dr Charles Eugster, who began a fitness program at 85 after a career as a dentist. He then ended up winning more than 100 fitness awards in sports as diverse as body-building and rowing, including a record-breaking 55.48 second 200m sprint to break the over 95 record category. The celebrity fitness pensioner is quoted as saying, “I can’t understand why society thinks old people aren’t capable of keeping fit. It’s absolute rubbish.”


The Life of Robert Marchand

Born in the north French city of Amiens, Marchand began his nearly century-long cycling career at 14 years old, when he started riding as a teen. He later gave up riding during a busy working life, in which he bounced around careers as wide and varied as fireman and sugarcane planter, including stints working in Canada as a lumberjack.

After two World Wars, a long working career, and a century that saw cataclysmic change, Robert returned to the bicycle, a mere whippersnapper at 67. Twelve years later he was completing the 600 kilometre race between Paris and Bordeaux – a remarkable feat even then at 89 years old.

When asked about his performance, Marchand was humble:

“I am not here to be champion. I am here to prove that at 105 years old you can still ride a bike.”