Robert Marchand, the hour record holder for the over-100 age group, has celebrated his birthday by tackling the Col Robert Marchand. The 103-year-old conquered the 10km climb in under an hour and celebrated at the top with a glass of Champagne.
It was a bleak, rainy day in the Ardeche mountains yesterday. It was also Robert Marchand’s birthday and unlike most 103-year-olds, he wanted to celebrate by cycling up a mountain. The climb he had in mind was none other than the Col Robert Marchand, a 10km stretch of road on the D532 road between Saint-Félicien and Lalouvesc which rises 450m.
Despite the poor weather conditions, Marchand wasn’t to be deterred. “It’s going to be tough, but I still hope to succeed – but if I don’t, then don’t hold it against me.”
It was never in doubt, for Marchand is no ordinary centenarian (if there is such a thing). He is the man who holds the hour record for his age group, having ridden 26.925km in January of this year, and he also holds the centenarian 100km speed record in a time of 4h17m27s.
Marchand reached the summit in less than an hour, pointing out that it was only 11 degrees and that he didn’t normally ride unless it was at least 15 degrees. Training demands commitment though and Marchand needs to stay in shape as he will be riding the Ardechoise sportive this summer – as he has each year since it began in 1992.
He says he wants to keep racing until he is 105. Presumably, he’ll only cycle recreationally after that. “My doctor tells me I’m doing well and he says to continue what I’m doing – but perhaps to go at it a bit less hard.”