A man who has a mountain pass named after him - Robert Marchand set a new world cycling hour record at the UCI world cycling centre velodrome in Aigle Switzerland on the 17th of February 2012, in front of cheering die hard cycling supporters. Marchand celebrated his one hundredth birthday just three months ago. Last time Marchand raced on a velodrome was way back in 1937. The record he'd set was something special, a kind of gift to himself, "I just wanted to do something for my 100th birthday." said Marchand. At the end of Marchand's hour he'd covered a distance of 24.251 kilometres. Put this in context Marchand obeyed doctors orders and stuck to a heart rate of 110 maximum. Before the endurance test Marchand made certain to gain the approval of his cardiologist, after the event he told reporters, "I could have gone faster but I didn't want to ….. I could keep going for another hour. I’ve been told not to raise my pulse too high so I’m not even tired.” Apparently Marchand had a bit of fun recently on a climb and let his heart rate up to 134, not concerned at any apparent risk.
The first ever cyclist in the Masters over 100 age category to set an hour record. Eighty six years earlier he'd created an alias to get a start in his first race, just fourteen, too young to enter the event otherwise. Marchand had a long break between his younger days as a cyclist - only returning to the sport aged seventy eight.
A lot of administrative work has to be completed behind the scenes before and after an hour record attempt, In Marchand's case this was carried out by Gérard Mistler, Président of the Ardéchoise Cyclo-Promotion, Marchand is a keen member of his local L’Ardechoise club, of south-central France. Mistler's work leaving Marchand free to concentrate on riding and re-aquainting himself with the velodrome after so many years. “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.” Paying homage to his cycling club, Marchand wore his club kit for the attempt.
Compliant with UCI regulations Marchand took the mandatory drug test after the event, just to tick all the boxes so that his record could be ratified by the UCI. Mistler said of Marchand's attempt “I think he is a human example of the benefits of cycling.”
Marchand has been competing in many of France's cyclo-sportif events throughout the years. Age 90 Marchand had completed the Bordeaux-Paris in thirty six hours for the 600 kilometres. Recently he's only been training at distances of less than 100 kilometres, Marchand said “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.”
This sums up Robert Marchand “But basically, I am like everybody. I am lucky that I haven’t had any major health problems. 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…” "I just wanted to do something for my 100th birthday."...“I think he is a human example of the benefits of cycling.”