Location: Kansas

A Great Way to Stay Active – Then and Now

Rita and Joe Spradlin of LawrenceMr. and Mrs. George Hackney of Topeka

Here’s an interesting look at two stories of people riding bikes well into their retirement years.

The photo on the left is Rita and Joe Spradlin of Lawrence, Kansas, who were recently profiled in the Lawrence Journal-World (Down the road: Couple’s exercise regimen keeps them moving in retirement). Rita is 79, and walks four to six miles a day. Joe is 80, and rides his bike 30 miles per day.

The photo on the left is courtesy of Kansas Memory, from the archives of the Kansas State Historical Society. We don’t have a back story to go along with it, except that the photo caption says it’s Mr. and Mrs. George Hackney of Topeka, Kansas, sometime between 1900 and 1905.

Both couples look healthy and happy.

Joe, who call himself and Rita “exercise nuts”, says that beyond physical conditioning and the ability to eat and drink more, he sees real benefits from his love of riding. “I don’t need Zoloft or Prozac,” Joe says. “Biking is very good for my mental health. And I notice that when I don’t bike, I become a little bit more irritable, lay around more and just (have) minor symptoms of depression.”

I wonder if the Hackneys would have considered themselves “exercise nuts”?

Of course, we don’t know if the Hackneys even rode the bikes. They could have been mere props for a portrait photo. But it doesn’t look that way to me. It appears to me that they were both comfortable on the bikes, and that the bikes were a part of their daily lives. At least I like to think so.


About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web’s premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

3 responses to “A Great Way to Stay Active – Then and Now”

  1. Jerry B. says:

    Great story,I agree with Joe not riding makes me irritable too,I hope that I can ride until the day I die!

  2. Natalie Cooper says:

    Hi, I see you don’t have a back story to the photograph of George & Mrs Hackney on their bicycles. I am still researching my great grandfather’s brother. All I know at the moment is that George was born around 1826 in Cheshire, England and moved to the US around 1850, He was employed by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company and is mentioned by name in William Cutler’s ‘History of the State of Kansas’.

  3. Randy says:

    Thanks, Natalie, that’s very interesting! I hadn’t thought to look in the Cutler book. There’s a short biographical sketch of George Hackney here and a description of his work as a superintendent of the locomotive and car department here.