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First ever deaf bike festival kicks off in Bentonville

More than 100 deaf cyclists traveled from across the country to attend the event which included skills clinics, group tours and an informative panel discussion.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Bentonville is known for its infamous biking trials and this weekend, the city hosted its first "Bike Boom Series", a four-day event for deaf cyclists.

More than 100 deaf cyclists traveled from across the country to attend the event which was filled with skills clinics, group tours, and a panel discussion to learn more about deaf experiences.

"It's rare we get the opportunity to ride with them. We only know them through social media and the internet but never in person. So this weekend has been full of opportunities to ride with friends that we've met online and now we've been in person it's been very fun," said Mark Wynne, Deaf Cyclist team manager.

Bike festival organizers say deaf individuals have been underserved, which makes it difficult to afford a mountain bike or even find riding partners who communicate in sign language.

"Many of us don't have access to clinics with an interpreter but this opens up the learning opportunity for many of us that we didn't have before," Wynne explained. 

Ciara Logan is a local deaf cyclist who had surgery a few years ago to allow her to hear most of the time.

"It's frustrating because when it comes to hearing people, they think oh it's fine she can hear but when I get my helmet on I can't hear anything and in the deaf community it's the same." Logan said.

She says it's tough being in between both worlds. All the cyclists and organizers say it's important to them to break barriers in the deaf community.

"The U.S. Deaf Cycling Association needs more support. We need more deaf cyclists, children and more females," said Logan. 

As for next year, the 'Bike Boom' series will make its way to Bentonville again, but with a larger crowd.

"We want to impact the different communities. The deaf community especially as well but to really bring in female cyclists, BIPOC community to cycling, and the deaf youth. So our goal is to expand and grow and learn from this year to be more inclusive next year so other communities can be a part of this event as well," said Wynne.

ASL Interpreter Alicia Adkins served as the interpreter for the event.

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