He’s been a boxer, a lumberjack, a firefighter and a truck driver who managed to survive two World Wars.
But he didn’t seriously take up cycling until he was 68 — and the year was 1949.
On Wednesday, at age 105, Frenchman Robert Marchand set a world record by pedaling 14 miles in one hour.
His 105-plus age category was established specifically for him.
“I’m now waiting for a rival,” he told The Associated Press in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.
“I didn’t see the sign warning me I had 10 minutes left,” he said. “Otherwise I would have gone faster, I would have posted a better time. I’m not tired. I thought my legs would hurt, but they don’t. My arms hurt, [but] you have to hurt somewhere.”
Fans chanted “Robert! Robert!” as he pedaled away the last minutes. He received a standing ovation and was mobbed by photographers and TV crews.
His physiologist, Veronique Billat, said Marchand could have been quicker, “but he made a big mistake. He has stopped eating meat over the past month after being shocked by recent reports on how animals are subjected to cruel treatment.”
Three years ago, Marchand rode 16.7 miles in one hour in the over-100 division.
The Parisian lives on a modest pension and spends hours training and stretching each week.
“He’s got two essential qualities,” Billat said. “A big heart that pumps a lot of blood, and he can reach high heart beat values that are exceptional for his age.”
“If he starts eating meat again and builds more muscle, he can better his mark,” she said.
Marchand is 5 feet tall and weighs just 115 pounds.
When he was a child, a coach told him to give up bicycling because he’d never be any good at it. He was too small.
So what's the secret to his good health and longevity?
"He never pushed his limits, goes to bed at 9 p.m. and wakes up at 6 a.m.," said his friend and current coach, Gerard Mistler. "There’s no other secret."