In 1908, the Ford Motor Company began production on the Model T, rocketing automobiles into the mainstream. That same year, Octavio Orduño of Long Beach was born -- but as a youngster, he always wanted bike. Over the next 103 years, the descendants of that early car eventually changed the way we see the world, and indeed the very Earth itself -- and Octavio has been around to watch it all unfold. That's why, perhaps, nowadays Octavio still prefers to pedal, making him quite possibly the oldest cyclist on the planet.Octavio's story of pedal-powered longevity has made him a celebrity of sorts in his hometown; The Los Angeles Times profiled him last week on the eve of his 103rd birthday on Monday, and the city says he's a great role-model of healthy living and biking, touting him as the "oldest cyclist in the world."
According to the Times, the centenarian takes a ride everyday around the neighborhood, just as he has for the last four decades. But starting three years ago, he had to trade in his street-bike for a three-wheeler, on account of his faltering balance -- but mainly at the insistence of his wife, Alicia, though he doesn't seem to mind the change.
"I can ride this bike all day long," he says. In fact, it has become tradition, a ritual of sorts that stretches back further than memory. It's been just recently, however, that the world took notice of the cyclists who's been at it since before biking was cool.
From the Times:
Not long ago, the city's bike coordinator, a gregarious, gray-haired Texan named Charles Gandy, took notice. He befriended Orduño and shared his story online, posting two videos of him coasting down the bike lanes, propped up by his self-installed blue velvet backrest. And that's only the start of Gandy's plan, if the old man is game. He'd like to have him cut the ribbon at bike-friendly ceremonies and appear in television and radio ads.
For Octavio, though, the poster-child status is nice, but that's not why he loves to ride. "Sometimes I feel stronger than the year before," he says.
Alicia had toyed with the idea of getting an electric wheelchair as a gift for her husband, but Octavio would have none of it. "Why would I [use a wheelchair]?" he asks.
Meanwhile, most of those old Model T's have been sold for scrap, or are collecting dust in some automobile museum somewhere, an aging glimpse into the distant past. Octavio, on the other hand, is looking ahead to the future.
Though by my count, he's already there.
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