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“If you don't exercise, you rust” – 99-year-old Suffolk man is still riding every day

Norman Gregory aims to ride at least 10 miles a day

“Keep breathing,” is the top tip for a long and happy life from 99-year-old Norman Gregory from Cockfield, near Bury St Edmunds. He also goes out on his e-bike pretty much every day.

Gregory first started riding his mother's bike when he was eight years old and was soon doing 100 miles a week riding between his village and his grammar school in Sudbury.

He still aims to ride at least 10 miles a day.

“At 99 you're not physically and mentally what you were when you were 19,” he told ITV. “If you don't make yourself get up and go out when the weather is okay, physically and mentally you just get worse – so you have to keep at it. If you don't exercise, you rust.”

Gregory’s view of ‘okay’ weather should perhaps be set in context. During World War Two his Lancaster bomber was shot down and he was forced to march through Eastern Europe as a prisoner of war.

"There was a metre of snow and it was the worst winter for 40 years", he said.

"Day and night it was freezing, often blizzard conditions. We marched for 21 days, sometimes we marched all night.

"I had four pairs of socks – two pairs on my feet and the other two pairs were inside my shirt against my body to keep warm.

"I was never, never frightened. The reason I can say that was that I knew all along that I was going to be killed. Because I accepted that fact, I wasn't afraid."

Gregory went on to say that he considered a Dawes bicycle he once owned to have been his most prized possession.

Sadly, he lent it to an Australian crew member, who left it unattended outside a dance, and it was stolen. He seems to favour a Raleigh e-bike these days.

If Gregory does ever come to feel the onset of rustiness, he could do worse than look to Robert Marchand for cycling inspiration.

In 2017, the Frenchman set an Hour record of 22.547 kilometres in a 105+ age category specially created for him by the UCI, and a year later he celebrated his 107th birthday by going for a 20km spin.

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