Long beach loses its cycling icon

Octavio Orduno, known as the oldest cyclist in Long Beach, if not the world, has died. He was 106.

The retired aerospace mechanic from Santa Paula was a local celebrity among cyclists in the south bay. Every day, he would pedal down Ocean Boulevard to the beach, park or farmer’s market — ignoring the roar of lawn mowers and growls of pit bulls, but always smiling as he passed young women in flowery skirts.

Some days he would get stuck on an incline and had to will his legs to pump. Drivers from passing cars used to cheer him on, “You can do it!”

“He was our Superman,” said his daughter, Angelina Orduno. A stubborn one.

The father of six preferred a two-wheeler. But at 100 years old, his wife, Alicia, insisted he get a tricycle.

When the city’s bike coordinator, Charles Gandy, learned about Orduno’s enthusiasm, he promoted the centenarian’s story online. Orduno became the grinning symbol of cycling in the city. Fans would greet him at bike-lane ribbon cuttings and bike festivals.

At public events, he soaked up the attention. He used to greet the men with tight handshakes and approach the ladies with gentle hands and puckered lips.

He had trouble seeing and couldn’t hear well, but each time someone asked him his secret to a long life he gave the same answer: “Keep moving and eat healthy.”

He seemed to live on vegetables, fruits and nuts. He also had an appetite for Mexican telenovelas.

His own life, too, was pretty dramatic.

As a teenager during the Great Depression, he ran away from home, wandering from Oregon to Wisconsin by freight train. Later he became a gardener to the stars: Claudette Colbert, Charlie Ruggles, William S. Hart. During World War II, too old to enlist, he taught women how to build airplane engines. At his 104th birthday party, he jitterbugged to his favorite mariachi music.

“He just loved life,” Angelina said. “And he wasn’t going to go down without a fight.”

Cycling became the highlight of otherwise uneventful days in his later years.
Alicia, his wife of 60 years, got used to him coming home scraped and bruised. Once, he arrived in the back of a police car. Another time, he crashed against a two-wheeler and ended up in the hospital. He had a concussion and could not recognize anyone for days.

Soon, though, he was back on his red Torker tricycle. His usual ride was to Bixby Park, where he watched the skateboarders do ollies and flips.

He quit those journeys two years ago because no matter how hard he tried, he could no longer get his trike up his building’s inclined driveway.

That didn’t stop him from riding, though — in tight circles around his building’s parking garage.

What finally stopped him was the theft of his bike’s front wheel.

“He was upset,” Eddie said. “But I think, by then, he was too old to keep going.”

Orduno spent days by the window, watching the world go by. Gradually he became weaker, and on doctors’ advice, the family put him in a convalescent home.

The old man was not happy. One day, he got up, determined to head out the front door, Eddie said. He fell and broke his hip.

Several days later, on Jan. 16, he died due to complications of the fall. He was two months short of another birthday party.

“If he could, he would have been riding still,” Eddie said. “He would have made it to 107.”


how fit are you?

Do this test


answer truthfully now.

Screenshot 2014-08-02 13.47.13


there is no way my VO2 is 62 – my polar HRM used to say it was around 57-59


The Giant’s Tooth Fell Race

So, on New Year’s Day, after precious little sleep (thanks to my lovely family) I made my way to Ogden Water, nestling in the Pennine moorland just above Halifax, and lined up alongside 121 others for the Giant’s Tooth Fell Race. This was it, some three months after deciding to take part, I’d lost the best part of two stones in weight and had cajoled my not inconsiderable frame to a level of fitness that would make getting around in a respectable time possible.
I knew the course well as I have been jogging and walking on these hills recreationally for twenty years. I wasn’t entirely confident of achieving the aims that I set myself back in October though: to finish in the top half of the field and to get round in under 25 minutes. The conditions were a concern. Relentless rain over the preceding weeks had rendered the peat either bottomless or very very slippery. Where the surface was too hard for the water to penetrate, it was simply running in newly formed streams.
We were all drenched before the start and the wind whipping off the moors was making the task of staying warm at the start line difficult. This was soon forgotten as the starter released us on our way.

The first quarter of a mile is a gradual incline up to a gate/stile: a muddy track which was intermittently transformed into a stream, several inches deep. I’d committed to go quickly so as not to lose time queuing. This kept me in touch with the leaders but shoved me into oxygen debt earlier than was prudent. The spray generated by this stampede was quite something.

There followed a downhill section of a few hundred yards but I kept pushing until I reached the bottom of the main 280 foot climb up to the Giant’s Tooth itself (a white painted monolith) high on the moor. The climb is deceptively steep but I knew that I could do it as long as I stayed aerobic. I was passed by some fitter fell runners but was encouraged to find myself passing others who were having to resort to hands on knees walking.
The summit area was wetter and boggier than I’ve seen it in two decades which made progress slower than normal. Frankly, it’s never quick as the myriad tussocks make sure-footed running impossible. Matters weren’t helped by a vicious, wet and westerly which blurred the vision and hammered at my fragile resolve.

Then the descent: 250ft of wet peat, pine needles and ankle snapping tree roots. The race organiser, a seriously good fell racer himself, described it as “dangerous”. It had been my plan to hurtle down this slope, picking a line I have rehearsed on many training runs. My legs, made insensible by cold and gallons of lactic acid, refused to co-operate. My brain engaged and started worrying about my fragile medial ligament. Prudence cost me half a dozen places and a little bit of time. Still, I got to the bottom in one piece.

The course followed a stream, Skirden Clough, for a short while. It was possible to run quickly and recover some aerobic equilibrium. I knew I’d need to as the second climb loomed.

It’s only about 150 feet, the second climb, but it’s steep in places and, again, I found myself passing walkers….the very same competitors who had overtaken me on the downhill. Come the following, much faster and safer, descent they passed me again. I became aware that the shoelace had come undone on my right shoe (Inov-8 X Talon 212). This had never happened before and it did niggle me. I lost concentration deciding whether or not it was worth stopping to tie it. I decided against.

I’d also started to become aware of a bad kit choice. I had elected to wear some New Balance running tights to keep my leg muscles warm and, hopefully, mitigate against injury. I was also wearing long socks underneath them to add calf compression. All this had served to do was to add several pounds in weight to my legs AND make them much colder than they would have been had I gone with shorts. This was a lesson that I won’t forget in a hurry.

There’s a long flat section in the race, which takes you around the perimeter of Ogden Water. The temptation is to believe that you are on the home stretch and gun it but I knew there was a sting in the tail to come. 850 metres from the finish, there’s a sharp right turn and climb up through the woods, back up to the bottleneck stile. It’s probably about 100 feet, but it’s steep for 30 metres and, on leaden legs, it can be soul destroying. I took this opportunity to overtake the quick descenders around me for the last time and, in severe oxygen debt, attempted to sprint to the finish. With icy water splashing over waist height, I tried to tell myself that it was fun. It wasn’t fun at all. It was horrible. There, I admit it….and bang go any fell runner machismo points that I might have accumulated.

I crossed the line to see the Halifax Harriers club secretary pointing a camera at me….the resulting photo o is above. He was quick to point out that I had my club colours on back to front….I’d have been quick to swear at him if I’d had any breath left to swear with. I slumped on a wall and announced my retirement from fell running to myself, silently.

Half an hour later, in the Causeway Foot Inn, still sopping wet through, I sank a pint of Taylor’s Golden Best with fellow runners, exchanged a few yarns and found myself talking about my next race. Retirement was short-lived.

How did I get on? I came 48th of the 121 runners and recorded a time of 23 minutes and 34 seconds. Given that it was my first competitive run in 30 years, not too shabby at all. Next year, I’ll be much much faster.

Ouch my old age

5-a-side BAD

That just might be my last game – whether it is getting clattered and dislocating my finger or this swollen ankle where I turned quicker than my feet. Right ankle horribly swollen and have just bought elastic bandage as I am flying in an hour and that lower pressure will make it all puff up. Age is crap.