CARSON, Calif. – Ashley Fiolek experiences motocross like no one else, and it’s not because she’s a 17-year-old girl. In a sport dominated by noise, she can’t hear a thing.
She’s a typical, text-messaging teen, but for two things: She’s a motorsports champion and she’s been completely deaf since birth.
Saturday she and other female racers will make their X Games debut in the first year of Women’s Moto X Racing. Fiolek (pronounced FYE-lick) is no mere novelty act. She is the top rider on the AMA/Women’s Motocross Association tour in her rookie year after winning the season’s first three stops.
But how does she manage without hearing the rev of the engines, and with such a severely limited knowledge of what’s going on around her?
“That’s probably the question I get the most from other riders is, ‘How do you ride? I, couldn’t do it. I rely so much on my hearing.'” Fiolek said through her father Jim, who translates her sign language.
The disadvantages are clear. She can’t hear to know when to shift, though that can be solved by relying more on vibrations. A bigger problem is knowing where her opponents are when they are behind her, which they quite often are. She must pick a path and stick with it.
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