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Age is Just a Number: The Journey of Fairbairn Powers, Pilgrim Place Resident and Cycling Champion

At 84, most people are contemplating a life well-lived, basking in the nostalgia of their past achievements. But not Fairbairn Powers, also known as Sarah. At an age when most people are slowing down, she's speeding up—literally. Fairbairn, also resident of Pilgrim Place in Claremont, recently won a Gold Medal at the UCI Cycling World Championships - Gran Fondo, for the women's individual time trials in her 80-84 age group. Her blistering time for the 14.2-mile race? An astounding 47:54.352.


Fairbairn Powers at the start of the UCI Cycling World Championships (Photo Credit: UCI Photographers)

Beyond the Race: The Real Challenge


When asked about the most challenging moment she faced during the championship, Fairbairn surprised everyone by saying it wasn't the race but the logistics preceding it. "Getting the bike there, shipping it, picking up the suit—it was the logistics of it," she explained. Fairbairn’s story emphasizes that sometimes, the most trying barriers are not physical but logistical.


Her experience illustrates the lifeblood of Pilgrim Place—a community that encourages its residents to defy the stereotypes society places on aging. "Pilgrim Place in its culture makes it possible for us all to explore doing good things well," Fairbairn says. She credits her community and her coach, who has been training her for nine years, for making her athletic feats possible.


Fairbairn Powers Speeding Through the Finish Line (Photo Credit: UCI Photographers)

The Emotional Peak


Crossing the finish line was an emotional peak for Fairbairn. "It was huge. Just to be playing with the big girls who were younger. And it really was huge," she shared, explaining the profound sense of accomplishment she felt. Even with last-minute hitches like needing a doctor's permission to race, Fairbairn triumphed over it all, stating, "By gum, it happened."


Training and Resilience


The road to this world championship was laden with rigorous training and hard work. She detailed a meticulous training regimen that involved intervals, speed boosts, and regular email guidance from her coach. However, Fairbairn contends that the process wasn't a sacrifice. "I am a happier, better person when I am actively exercising," she said, echoing the sentiment that physical health is instrumental to holistic well-being.


Community Support


Fairbairn also appreciates the support from the Claremont Bicycle Group when she moved to the area. "They were extraordinarily helpful because I had no idea where it was safe to ride," she remembers. Now a beacon of inspiration herself, Fairbairn promotes the cycling lifestyle, recognizing its physical and emotional benefits.


Staying Focused


How does she maintain her mental balance during races? “The point of a Time Trial is that it is a race against the clock, not a race in the midst of a surging pack of the sort that we see when we watch the Tour de France. Therefore it is much safer." she explained. Fairbairn appreciates the inherent safety in time trials over pack races, especially given her age and the risks involved.


Fairbairn Powers Cycling Through the Race (Photo Credit: UCI Photographers)

A Message to Aspiring Cyclists


For those looking up to her as an inspiration, her message is clear: "Don't do yourself in but do what you love. Go ahead and take a shot at what you love."


At 84, Fairbairn defies the norm, challenges stereotypes, and continues to carve a space for herself in the world of sports. She is a testament to the boundless capabilities of the human spirit, proof that age is, indeed, just a number.


In a world quick to define people by their age, Fairbairn proves that age doesn't define what one can achieve. Her story isn't just a tale of an extraordinary athletic feat; it's a message to all—whether young or old—that your passion doesn't have an expiration date. And that is truly golden.



Written by Yadi Malik

Co-editor – Donna Orange


If you would like to read more about the interview with Fairbairn Powers, click the PDF file below.

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