Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Feeling the freedom

-  A 103-year-old Sandy woman checks off her bucket list riding a motorcycle


by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - With a little help from Peah Salazar, right, of Latus Motors motorcycle clothing department, Dorothy Fairbanks, 103, dons a helmet before she gets her birthday wish, a ride on a motorcycle.No one can say that a sense of humor decreases as years of life increase.

Dorothy Fairbanks of Sandy is a prime example. Approaching 103, she was trying to decide what adventurous thrill she would have for her birthday.

She already had flown the skies in a hot air balloon for her 100th and 101st birthdays. But last year she had a cast on her broken hand and decided to wait a year to accomplish more exciting adventures on her bucket list.

by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - Just seconds before Steve Breslow of Latus Motors in Gladstone begins the ride, Dorothy Fairbanks adjusts the blanket that will help keep her warm in the chilly nighttime air.“I thought about doing a bungee jump or a sky dive,” she said with a laugh, knowing that wasn’t possible.

So, at 103, she settled for a ride on a motorcycle — in the sidecar, of course.

Previously, she had been on two wheels a couple of times in her life: once as a teenager on a motorcycle and once in the early 1940s soon after she married her husband, Hayden, and they rode on a bicycle built for two — with Dorothy in front, of course.

“I last rode a motorcycle in my teens,” Fairbanks said, “but now, at 103, I can really enjoy (the ride).”

by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - As the motorcycle rounds a turn in the street, the sidecar holding 103-year-old Dorothy Fairbanks rises above the pavement. POST PHOTO: JIM HARTAs Fairbanks prepared for the ride, with helmet and gloves and a blanket to cover her legs, her grandson, Christian Normand, his wife, Kimberly, and Fairbanks’ great-grandchildren all watched.

Regarding the thought of riding in an open sidecar with the cool breeze in her face, Fairbanks laughed and said, “I was born and brought up in the state of Maine. This isn’t cold. We had snow up to here (holding her hand near her neck).”

No one would suspect today, but back in Maine in her earlier years, Fairbanks lived the quiet life of a teacher at a one-room school — never seeking thrilling adventures, Kimberly Normand said.

“I love that at 103 she still wants to try new things,” Normand said. “At her age, she has had lots of experiences, so I’m excited that she gets to have one that she’s never done before.

“She has incredible genes to be so healthy (at her age). She’s outlived everyone. No one (in her family) has come close to her age.”

Fairbanks says her stout physique has developed because for 80 years she lived in Maine, where you have to be strong to survive.

“I’m tough and rugged,” she said. “I was brought up on snowshoes. I loved the snow and the cold.”

Steve Breslow of Latus Motors in Gladstone took Fairbanks for a 15-minute ride around the city’s streets, beginning at the dealership, where Breslow is the used motorcycle manager.

The ride thrilled Fairbanks, especially on the turns where centrifugal force caused the sidecar to float above the pavement.

Breslow said he was talking with Fairbanks throughout the ride, and “she really enjoyed it.”

But Normand, who knows Fairbanks better, said it was a very special day for the centenarian.

“I think she’s having the time of her life,” Normand said after Breslow returned from the ride.

But the real evaluation of Fairbanks’ experience must come from her.

“It was a real thrill,” Fairbanks said after the ride. “I loved it. This was more thrilling than the balloon ride.”

No doubt this ride will spur some conversations at the home where Fairbanks lives.

“Now,” Normand said, “she’ll have something to talk about with her friends at Cascadia Village and the senior center.”

Asked if she would do a sky dive for her 104th birthday, Fairbanks said, “I’ll wait until I get there, and we’ll see.”