Deaf people can do anything hearing people can do – except hear


Having a hearing disability and being an active cyclist sounds dangerous, right? Not for Johan Reyneke.

Reyneke, 35 years-old, and raised in South Africa, has had a total of 10 bicycles in his lifetime and has had the opportunity to travel to numerous places around the world.

Johan was about 3 years old when he started finding pleasure in the two-wheel machine. I am the only deaf family member. It is tricky but a great challenge for him, so he continued to cycle & it never stopped him from reaching his accomplishments.

bicycle silhouette shadow silverback bikes
Johan on his Silverback Adventure

The Family.

Reyneke has been wearing a hearing aid for the majority of his lifetime, a silent world is something that he is quite familiar with, “I can hear nothing and when I do hear – I can hear some sounds and someone calling my name,” he explains.

His wife and 1-year-old daughter are both hearing-impaired. The Reyneke family reside in a community with over 1000 deaf people which makes life a lot easier for the entire family when it comes to communicating and socializing with other people, “we as deaf people don’t really go to dark places because we need light to see to communicate,” says Reyneke.

mother and daughter in the bush
Johan’s wife walking in the field, somewhere in South Africa
deaf cyclist enjoys biking, hiking, cape town
Johan and his wife loves any kind of adventure

People tend to think cycling is very risky for deaf people. Naturally, observations skills improve with time, particularly with lip reading, facial expressions and being aware of his surroundings. “My eye-sight is very visual and sharp,” says Johan. The only time he feels unsafe is when he does not have his mobile phone on him or when he is cycling alone.

His biggest obstacle is to maintain a safe position on the road. Imagine the shock one gets when a vehicle appears right next to you, without hearing it before it does. It is easy to start wobbling and an accident can occur.

Johan is a Senior Draughtman by profession but enjoys entering cycling races. After the big accident, Johan is still looking forward to doing more races, as the Cape Epic.

“I was racing in a road competition with a group and another cyclist hit his front wheel with his back wheel, I lost balanced and crashed very hard.”

deaf adventurer, hiking, Table mountain, trails
Some where in Cape Town South Africa

Always inspired to do more.

His achievements inspired other deaf people to cycle too, “I won gold for MTB in World Deaf Cycling Championships in 2006 in the USA as well as top 5 in the Deaflympic Games in 2009, Taiwan.”

Not able to hear has taught Johan many more values than people that have all their senses.

“I am more self-disciplined and I motivate myself.”

sido 1 silverback bicycle
Another trail conquered on his Silverback Sido 1

Johan’s goal is to take part in the annual Cape-Epic on his newly owned Silverback 2017 Sido 1, “I love my Sido 1.” adds Johan.

Johan is a big bike fanatic and only change the teeth single drivetrain to 34T. He really wants a SESTA SBC with a Full carbon Frame as his next bicycle.

Cycling is not as dangerous for a deaf person, as people sometimes make it out to be, “what I lack in hearing, I make up for in other ways, Johan adds.”

silverback trails
Johan’s best machine of choice

“Believe, you can do it. When it is though- don’t just give up, the end result is that you enjoyed it,” he says inspiringly.  Johan encourages other deaf cyclists to never look back when cycling in a group or in a single track. He hopes to prove that deafness is no barrier to live and should not prevent people from embracing their passion.

Go out, and never back down. Let his story inspire you as Silverback is #InspiredByYou!

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