Deaf couple to cycle 260 miles

Sharon Osborne and Andy Taylor will face more than just physical challenges when the take on the Death Valley cycle ride in November. ANL-150916-104722001

Sharon Osborne and Andy Taylor will face more than just physical challenges when the take on the Death Valley cycle ride in November. ANL-150916-104722001

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A deaf couple from White Colne are planning to cycle over 260 miles across Death Valley in the USA to raise money for charity.

Andy Taylor, 32, and his partner Sharon Osborne, 30, will be using pedal power for the week-long challenge in November and will ride along a route that climbs in total over 21,000 feet, with the bright lights of Las Vegas as their final destination.

Originally they looked at other fundraising ideas, but agreed the cycling challenge was a “mind-blowing experience they could be proud of”.

Mr Taylor, an information officer, has been deaf since the age of two as a result of meningitis – the same age that partner Sharon, who is a freelance fashion designer, lost her hearing.

British Sign Language is the couple’s way of communicating, which will bring an added challenge to the fundraising event.

Mr Taylor said: “We will be the only deaf people in the group of a dozen, but the tricky bit is that there will be no conversation between us as we cycle because we will be holding the handle bars and unable to use our hands to communicate.

“As we can’t sign with each other we’ll use our vision a lot more to take on what’s going on around us.

“We wanted to take on the challenge, despite friends and family calling us crazy, as it really will be an achievement to be proud of and for such a great cause.”

The couple hope to raise over £6,000 to support Action on Hearing Loss, which gives people support and care in communities, develop technology and treatments, and campaign for equality for the one in six people affected by some form of hearing loss across the UK.

David Steadman, executive director for fundraising and marketing at the charity, said: “Taking on a bike ride across Death Valley is a huge challenge – we’re incredibly grateful that Andy and Sharon are going above and beyond to raise money to help our life-changing work, supporting hundreds of thousands of people confronting deafness, hearing loss and tinnitus each and every day.”

Currently the pair are cycling up to 100-miles a week in preparation and are planning a cycle ride to Amsterdam as a training run.

For Mr Taylor the nerves are less about the gruelling challenge before him, instead for the flight, having never been outside Europe.

The Death Valley Cycle Challenge runs from November 7 to 14.

To support their fundraising efforts, visit their web page www.justgiving.com/Andrew- Taylor61.