“They Think We’re Nuts”

Being in Their 80s Won’t Stop This Biking Duo

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Elderly people cycling

Avid cyclists and 80-somethings Jack and Jeannette Ralston of Tennessee | Photo courtesy Jack and Jeannette Ralston

This article originally appeared on Rails-to-Trail Conservancy’s TrailBlog on April 27, 2015. 

Remember Jack and Jeannette Ralston, the amazing couple who recently achieved a 70-years-plus dream of riding their bikes in every state (their story was originally featured in a 2013 issue of Rails to Trails)?

We checked in with our octogenarian power couple to see what they were up to this spring. (For those of you who don’t know, octogenarian means a person who is in their 80s!). And to no one’s surprise, their pedaling ways are still going strong!

Biking the Tweestie Trail

Jeannette Ralston on the Tweetsie Trail | Photo courtesy Jack and Jeannette Ralston

The Ralstons just took a trip on the Tweetsie Trail, a recently completed and stunningly beautiful rail-trail outside of Johnson City, Tennessee. Despite being familiar with the corridor—the Ralstons have many bike excursions on the books for that part of the state, having moved to that region in 1952—this was their first trip on the Tweetsie. “For years, we hiked on the old railroad bed before the trail was built,” explains Jack.

But it’s not just their home region that the Ralstons have explored by bike. Their goal of riding in each of the fifty 50 states has taken them across the country, to trails they never would had ridden otherwise, and has made trails and biking central features in their lives.

“We believe in keeping the mind and body active,” explains Jack, adding that biking has helped keep them sharp and healthy. Jeannette agrees. “I don’t know if we would still be here if it wasn’t for biking!” she exclaims.

Biking the Tweetsie Trail

Jack Ralston on the Tweetsie Trail | Photo courtesy Jack and Jeannette Ralsto

Hip and knee replacements haven’t slowed this duo down one bit. And to top it all off, Jeannette celebrated her 86th birthday this month!

“After a ride, you feel like you’ve accomplished something,” says Jack. “And at our age, you really have!”

“We have a bunch of friends who think we’re nuts—who think we’re too old to be doing the bike rides that we’re doing,” says Jeanette. “But we love it, so why would we stop?”

We sure hope that we’re as vibrant and active as the Ralstons when we’re that age! Thanks so much for being great ambassadors of rail-trails across the country, Jack and Jeannette, and here’s to many more excursions in the coming years

Rails to Trails

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy helps build, maintain and defend America’s trails and trail networks across the country. Support RTC’s work at railstotrails.org/supportus.


  • Susan Kall

    We sure hope we can be like the Ralstons. We tandem ride and I’m 63. We love it! We do a lot of bike rallies tandem and single. Would like to have a list of the trails and locations especially the Tweetsie trail. We are in Huntsville Al. So are fairly close.

  • What a great story. Biking is a fantastic way to stay young and there is an option for those who may not be able to continue to ride their regular bike. If so, look into an electric bike. Search “electric bikes” to find a dealer near you or if you live in Pennsylvania check us out or give me a call. I would love to chat with you about electric bikes.

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