Jackie Tester pedals 70 miles to celebrate his 70th birthday

Published 9:30 am Monday, October 30, 2017

Jackie Tester, local businessman, turned 70 years old October 22 and to celebrate the occasion, he pedaled 70 miles on a stationary bike at the Anytime Fitness Center, located next to Ingles.

It took him five hours to do it, but his reward at the end was a big chocolate Blizzard from Dairy Queen, located across the parking lot.

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Biking and walking are not fitness smarts that Tester just recently took up. In 1997, he trimmed his weight down by 75 pounds by walking to work in Elizabethton from his home on the Coal Chute-Gap Creek Road. “I set out to walk across the country (in miles) by using my treadmill and the highway, and I’ve been walking and pedaling since then,” he shared.

This year, thusfar, he has walked and rode his bike 1,400 miles. He bike rides a lot on the Tweetsie Trail and other nearby trails, as well as to Bluff City and Piney Flats.

“I like to set goals for myself, and this year I decided to ride a mile for each year of my life,” Tester said. He gradually built himself up to the experience by biking some each day.

“I wanted to see if it was doable. I gradually built myself up to the task. First, I got a complete checkup from the doctor, who ordered a stress test. It turned out fine and the doctor okayed it, so I began my workouts,” Tester said, stressing the importance of talking with your doctor before you begin such a physical task.

He began pedaling his 70 miles at 1 p.m. after church, and finished about 6 p.m. He rode 25 miles at a time and would take a 15-minute break and go back to pedaling.

“Before I began any pedaling, I had the owner of the fitness center to turn my bike around to face the Dairy Queen. I had already told the Dairy Queen manager when I finished I wanted a chocolate Blizzard, and when I finished she was there waiting to give it to me. Man, did it taste good,” Tester said. “That was my motivation.”

Tester, who underwent knee replacement surgery two years ago, said he found bicycling to be good therapy. Bicycling was great for the new knee. “I started pedaling two days after the knee replacement,” he said.

Tester and his wife, Vella, own Best Photos in downtown Elizabethton.

What’s next for Tester? “Right now my bucket is empty, but as long as I’m able, I hope to keep pedaling,” he said.