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Elizabethton man says he's riding for those who cannot

Tanner Cook • Updated Oct 31, 2017 at 5:29 PM

When Jack Tester began his 70-mile bike ride at the Anytime Fitness Center in Elizabethton on Oct. 22, he wanted to face the new Dairy Queen across the street to envision his reward when he was done.

Oct. 22 was also Tester’s 70th birthday, and he was rewarded at the end of the ride with a large chocolate blizzard and the company of friends and family.

“I like to have something to work for in front of me,” said Tester. “When I used to run, I would have my family drive me miles away from home and I would run back home. I wanted to be at home because that was where a comfortable place to sit at was and that was where the cold beverages were.”

Tester said he weighed 250 pounds in 1997 and wanted to lose weight, so he started running and lost 75 pounds that year. Tester then started his own business, working 24/7 and unable to get in a regular workout regiment. He eventually gained the weight back, but decided to start running again to try to lose it.

In 2000, Tester was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He says this was not an ordinary kind of prostate cancer — one that grows slowly — but rather an aggressive form that advanced at nearly five times the normal rate.

“The doctors remarked that if I had come in just a few months later that I would only have about a year to live,” he said. “They caught it at an early stage.”

The cancer was treated and Tester was able to return to his regular activities. Fast forward to 2010 when the cancer returned and he had to have 40 radiation treatments. These treatments took a toll on his body, he conveyed.

He decided that the best thing to do was to begin exercising again and he started running again. Unfortunately, just a few weeks into it, he blew out his knee and had to have surgery to repair it.

Tester was not going to go quietly, though. He wanted to get onto a stationary bike just two days after surgery.

“My wife and my family wouldn’t let me get on the bike because they said I couldn’t do it,” he said. “There was a nurse from the physical therapist that came to help me two days after surgery onto the stationary bike and I slowly got onto it, but I eventually did.”

Tester has been riding strong since 2010 and decided to do 70 miles on his 70th birthday about a year ago.

“I thought it would be pretty neat to ride 70 miles on my 70th birthday,” he said. “I actually did a 60-mile ride on the stationary bike a couple of weeks before to prepare myself for it.”

Tester says he rides for those who cannot do the same thing he does every day.

“I see and I hear a lot of people that are bound to a bed and can’t get out and exercise,” he said. “I feel like I have to do what I can to live as long as I can.”

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