Hello everyone, I just wanted to introduce myself before I start on my first column for ABILITY Magazine. My name is Ashley Fiolek, I am 18 years old, I was born deaf and I live in St. Augustine, Florida. I am a women’s professional motocross racer, and I race the WMA (which is a series of races here in America) and the FIM (which is a series of races in Europe).
I’ve been riding since I was about 3 years old, but I became really interested in racing and wanted to race when I was 7. I have been racing for over ten years now, and it is my life!
I want to say I am excited to get the chance to write a column for ABILITY Magazine; hopefully I can bring all of you into my race world and you will better understand the sport I love: motocross!
Last year I started going to Europe to race. I was racing with girls from all over Europe. Some spoke French some Italian, German…various different languages. There was not really a common language, so for the first time in racing I was not the “different” one. Everyone had to try and figure out different ways to talk to one another, but we did, and we all got along really well and had a great time together! I think being able to race and ride lets me express who I really am, and I am never held back in any way. If you have ever raced, you know what a terrific feeling it is and how free it can make you feel. I am lucky to be able to do it for my career.
When I was in France last year, I met a couple of fans who came over to me and started to sign. I thought I missed something, and I asked them to sign it again. Then I realized they were deaf like me and were signing in French sign language! I had no clue what they were saying, but at the same time I was thinking “Wow this is really cool!” I guess I just assumed signing was all the same..haha. But obviously it is not and I have a lot to learn if I want to be able to sign in France! It was also pretty cool to know that there are deaf French people out there who love motocross as much as I do!
A couple of funny things happened over in Europe because of different language situations. My dad is hearing and he actually struggled with the language barrier thing a lot more than I did! On one of the trips we took we realized we forgot our adapters for our plugs. So we went down to the front desk and out to the stores trying to find the converter/adapter that we needed. To everyone my dad asked he used the American sign for plug. So everyone looked at him like he was from another planet! Obviously, being deaf, I am used to trying to make hearing people who don’t know sign language understand me. I told my dad, “Let me handle it.” I made up some simple gestures for the people to explain to them what we were looking for, and they understood me right away! It was kind of funny because my dad was just stuck on the whole “signing” thing because they couldn’t understand English!
The next funny thing that happened was in Italy when my dad tried to order a pizza. The waiters didn’t know any English and couldn’t understand what my dad was trying to order. So my dad again tried to “sign” to them and used the American sign for pizza! They still didn’t get it..ha ha…I stepped in and made a circle with my finger and “sprinkled” toppings on. Guess what?? They understood me!
Other articles in the Def Leppard’s Rick Allen issue include Senator Harkin — The Community Choice Act; Humor — Blame Bin Laden; Ashley’s Column — International Language of Pizza; Adventure Skills — More Than a Workshop; Lise Cox — The Blind Leading the Blind; H’Sien Hayward — Volunteering, Travel and Bulls; Katrina — Stormy Stories; George Covington — A Brush with Andy; Perfect Circles — One-of-Kind John Michael Stuart; Hawaii — Wheels To Water; ABILITY’s Crossword Puzzle; Events and Conferences..