Simon Usborne: 'A cyclist for longer than he can remember, Orduno lost his driving licence when he turned 100'
Saturday 26 March 2011
If there's something that might inspire me to swap sofa for saddle again after a winter during which my bikes have rarely been bothered, it's the story of an American man called Octavio Orduno. The former aerospace engineer rides every day from his house in Long Beach, California to the park and the farmers' market, waving at passers-by. None of which is out of the ordinary in that sunny city on America's Pacific Coast, were it not for the fact Orduno is 103.
A cyclist for longer than he can remember, Orduno lost his driving licence when he turned 100. It came as a relief to Alicia, his wife of 60 years (he was married before that for 20 years and has six children). She hoped a slower pace of life would be good for her man, who, while spritely, has failing vision.
But in a charming interview in the Los Angeles Times, the centenarian shows no signs of wanting to retire to his Lazyboy. "I can ride this bike all day long," he says from his tricycle perch. He took a third wheel a few years ago – again on the insistence of Alicia, who was worried about Octavio losing his balance – but would cruise on two if he could. He's had a few scrapes. On one occasion he was thrown over his bars and landed face-first on the concrete, but he won't stop riding.
Orduno's daily routine has now caught the attention of Charles Gandy, the city's cycling chief, who wants him to become a free-wheeling ambassador, appearing in ads and talking to would-be riders at public events. He's what people need to "shake themselves out of a rut", says Gandy.
But Orduno is a reluctant poster-pensioner for cycling. For him it's all about rolling back the years. "It keeps me going," he says. "And it's better than sitting in the den all day watching cars go by."
In the meantime, Alicia would still prefer he slowed down. They've talked about a mobility scooter, but she'll have a job on her hands to convince her husband to stop pedalling. Of his wife's plans for the scooter, Orduno says: "I think she can use it and follow me when I ride".
See a photo of Orduno and read the interview here: Ind.pn/orduno
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