Jan 31, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT
It cost $100 million to build France’s new National Velodrome in Paris, which opened on Thursday. So it’s only fitting that a cyclist over 100 years old was the one to give the venue a truly grand opening.
Today, 102-year-old Robert Marchand earned a standing ovation for breaking his own world record in the over-100 category after riding 26.927 kilometers (16.7 miles) in one hour. That effort bettered the old mark he set two years ago by more than two and a half kilometers.
“It was very good, but at the end it started to become very hard,” Marchand said afterwards according to the Associated Press. “…You have to know there are people who came from 600 kilometers away to see me today! It is incredible. That’s all I can say.”
Marchand also owns the time record for people over the age of 100 riding 100 kilometers (62 miles). He earned that particular record in 2012 at a velodrome in Lyon, France, logging a time of four hours, 17 minutes, 27 seconds over a span of 300 laps.
Cycling has been a longtime hobby for Marchand, who first started when he was 14 years old. Throughout his life, he’s had a varied list of professional jobs including turns as a firefighter, show salesman and wine dealer. He came back to cycling in 1978, when he was 67 years old.
Just before he set the centenarian record for the fastest 100km by bike two years ago, Marchand explained how he kept himself in good shape.
“All my life, I used all but I never abused, I have never smoked nor drank except for festive occasions, and in women I did not indulge too much,” he said to AFP with a laugh prior to his record run in Lyon.
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