How to Ride A Bike For 97 Years

Posted on June 6, 2011


Octavio Orduno is a 103 year old cyclist.  He doesn’t compete in races. He merely rides his bike all day.  He does so without his glasses, because he doesn’t like to wear them.  His wife, exasperated by her failure to convince him to wear glasses, was at least able to convince him to switch recently to a three-wheeled bike.  Octavio reluctantly agreed. 

Thankfully,the article I read about Octavio didn’t reveal how he was able to reach a hearty 103, let alone do it while riding a bike.  If it had,the answer would have been most likely something like “I never smoked or drank” or “I smoke a pipe everyday and I still drink beer with dinner” or “I only eat bananas on Thursday.”  None of those answers are ever really helpful.  They just make the ancient object of the article convinced that whatever he does is the reason he has lived so long.  And it makes everyone else wonder why Uncle Phil who never smoked or drank (or who always smoked and drank) dropped dead at age 40.  It really doesn’t help anyone else. 

Octavio, meanwhile, is, at this very moment, tooling around Long Beach,CA, being relentlessly chased by tricycle-riding paparazzi, after the publication of the piece about him appeared online.  

Octavio isn’t alone in his ability to do more than drool at an advanced age. And there are legions of older-than-Boomer-age athletes, many still competing in various athletic fields.

According to Guiness World Records, Ernestine Shepherd, age 74, is the oldest competitive female bodybuilder in the world. In addition to working out with weights, her training regimen includes a daily three-hour run and a personal makeup and wardrobe session. Over the past 18 years, Shepherd has completed nine marathons, won two bodybuilding contests, and captured 63 felons, single-handed.

Veteran ocean sailboat racer, 77 year old Minoru Saito has participated three times in the most prestigious and grueling race in the sailing world –the single-handed, around-the-globe competition,the 5-Oceans Race. He has started and finished seven solo circumnavigations of the Earth,the last one non-stop.  Mrs Saito, who hasn’t seen her husband since 1971, is quite proud of him and continues to set his place at the dinner table each evening.  “The newspapers just keep piling up,” she told a reporter. “He’ll have a lot of reading to do when he gets back.”

And then there’s Buster Martin, the marathon-running, beer drinking, chain-smoking, full- time van cleaner employed by a  plumbing company, who competed in the London Marathon at age 101. A film about his life was released this year, co-sponsored by the tobacco and alcohol lobbies.

So, Boomers.  Enough already with the complaints about knees and feet and any other body parts that refuse to cooperate (we’re talking sports, here.)  Get off the couch and do something.  And if it’s Thursday, eat a banana.