By: Stormy

Last month I covered hearing and tinnitus and the damage loud noises can have on your hearing.

This month, I had the pleasure of riding with Will and Marie Cornell last season. They are both deaf, and they love to ride. Will brought his other friends who were also deaf to a Cool Biker Lunch and Ride event. They are all fun people; although it was a little difficult to communicate with them, we all seemingly understood each other. They use the American Sign Language (ASL) and some can talk.

Will and Marie belong to a Facebook group page called Deaf Bikers of America, and this is where they find other local deaf bikers. He says there are about 50 in Colorado. On this group page, they post about local rides and events. Most of the members ride Harleys. They don’t see themselves as any different from us who can hear; we all just have the same passion.

When we all ride, it’s difficult to hear each other because of the loud pipes and traffic noise, therefore we use hand signals. My boyfriend knows when I need gas or if I need a pit stop because he is familiar with my animated hand gestures and what they mean. It makes me think that deaf riders are experts because hand signaling is their way of communication. I noticed when riding with Will’s group, they depend more on their vision. They are in tune with what’s going on around them by frequently checking their mirrors and scanning traffic ahead. I guess it’s pretty much like us that can hear and riding around with our music blaring or wearing in-ear buds; we can’t hear sirens or horn honking, so we would have to depend on our vision and be aware of our surroundings.

I reached out to a local rider, Scott Henry on the Facebook group page, Rocky Mountain Colorado Deaf Bikers. He says the members post videos with them communicating with sign language. The group is for all deaf bikers, but they welcome riders who know sign language. One member, Dr. Byron Bridges was born deaf to deaf parents and has a deaf sister. He has used ASL as his primary language all his life. Dr. Bridges’ passion for motorcycling and fishing has prompted him to become heavily involved in deaf motorcycle chairperson, deaf clubs, deaf fishing groups, and state/national deaf organizations. Dr. Bridges has been riding for almost 40 years and has ridden nationwide. He currently rides a 2012 Road Glide. Dr. Bridges will co-host with other chairperson for the 2020 Deaf Bikers of America in Sturgis during August of 2020. Dr. Bridges has been in the field of ASL linguistics, interpreting and post-secondary teaching of ASL as a second language for 30 years. Bridges currently teaches at University of Northern Colorado TASL/Sign Language Training Program in Greeley.

I interviewed the president, Steven “Steel” Anderson Sr. of the A.M.A. sanctioned club, Silent Americans Deaf Motorcycle Crew, Charter# 3117432. Steel says they accept new male and female memberships and in order to be eligible to join, all you need is a motorcycle and A.M.A. membership. He goes on to say that the requirements are: you must be deaf, hard of hearing, cochlear implant user, or ASL fluent. The club is a deaf motorcycle crew who loves to discuss everything about motorcycles as well as work on them. SADMC is NOT a 1% club. They are a neutral club and claim no territory. They are nationwide and respect those who respect them. SADMC was established in 2009 and founded in 2014.