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Cycling, Sweat and Hearing Aids - An interview with Shane Prendergast

09 August 2017

CYCLING, SWEAT AND HEARING AIDS! SHANE PRENDERGAST SPEAKS TO RAYOVAC FOLLOWING HIS EXTREME CHALLENGES!

Shane Prendergast is a developer who lives in Macclesfield, UK, who is profoundly deaf. At around the age of 12 years old, Shane began to suffer hearing loss. It wasn’t until the age of 21 his hearing significantly declined and he became a hearing aid user. 

Shane has since gone on to cycle 3,200 miles from San Francisco to New York, to raise money for childhood deafness and cancer in a Ride for a Child campaign. If that wasn’t enough he has since been in triathlon training and completed the brutal Ironman challenge June this year!

We caught up with Shane to find out more.

Shane Prendergast jumping on his road bike which has both wheels off the ground

How did you get started in Triathlons and Cycling?

My family has always been interested in cycling and my father cycled across America around 20 years ago. In 2015 I took up cycling with the aim of cycling America myself in 2016. Throughout the training I met so many incredibly fit people, many of whom were triathletes. I figured that I should make the most of my cycle training and try complete an ironman, arguably the most commonly known one day event out there.

How did you prepare for such physically and mentally tough events?

When I started training I was relatively unfit so it was a huge undertaking at the time. I got myself a trainer and he slowly built me up to the point where I was doing 30 hour weeks on the bike. This in itself is tough but combined with a 40 hour work week and everything else, things do start to become difficult to manage. That said, I did thoroughly enjoy the training and it has enhanced my life tenfold.

What obstacles has your hearing loss presented in to sport and how have you overcome them?

I find it especially hard to partake in team activities as I can’t hear them as well. Cycling, running and swimming are all great individual activities that don’t cause me any problems. However, when I am cycling with someone I try to make sure they’re on my “best” side so that I have a better chance of hearing them. They are also aware I won’t know they’re speaking unless I’m looking at them!

Shane Prendergast's reflection in a car wing mirror as he cycles on long road

Do you wear your hearing aids during your sports/events?

I tend to take my hearing aids out during any physically activity. Mainly because I was worried about damaging them, e.g getting caught in a downpour, but also because I actually prefer to exercise without sound! Admittedly it was a little dangerous as first and you have to be aware of your surroundings, but once used to it, it is incredibly tranquil and you can focus easier.

How did you cope with batteries for your Hearing Aids on your trip across America?

I was given a load of hearing aid equipment prior to my departure to America. The local NHS department were aware of my challenge and provided me with backup hearing aids and also a ton of batteries.

What was your favourite part of the experience?

I went on the American ride with three friends and the memories and moments that we shared together will stay with me for the rest of my life. To cross such a vast country over a period of 28 days on a bicycle is an incredible experience! Specifically speaking, the Rocky Mountains, Appalachian Mountains, Nevada desert, seeing the American cultures and meeting the people and not to mention reaching the finish line!

Shane Prendergast cycling down the side of the road in an expansive landscape of rolling hills

How did the fundraising go?

I raised money for two charities, Action on hearing Loss and CLIC Sargent, who support young children with deafness and cancer. Having experience both deafness and cancer in my life I felt like I could make a difference in something that has personally effected me. I raised just short of £12,000, which was boosted to almost £13,500 with the government gift aid.

Who was your biggest supporter?

I had a few followers on social media and such. There were some who I know spent a lot of time helping me raising money or catching up on my latest posts. However my biggest supporter has to be my mother and father, both of whom were proud of my achievements.

Would you do any of these again, or do you have any more adventures lined up?

I always said that I wouldn’t do anything again but then found myself entering an Ironman! Admittedly it’s a bit of an addiction, and for me personally I always want to see how far I can push myself and what I can achieve. My dream trip would be to cycle the world but I’m not really in a position to do that right now!

What tips would give to a deaf or Hard of Hearing person wanting to do something similar?

The toughest challenge for me personally throughout my life is my deafness. It has been incredibly tough and it’s only in the past few years I have fully embraced my deafness and not let it hold me back. I made the mistake of trying to hide it too much and it impacted my life massively.  Be proud of who you are, everyone has problems and deafness is just another hurdle to overcome.Shane Prendergast standing next to a sign for the Cameron Pass summit - elevation 10276 feet

How has the use of hearing aids helped you in day to day life?

Without hearing aids I am effectively rendered totally deaf, I cannot hear anything without them and am totally dependent on them everyday. When my hearing wasn’t so severe adapting to hearing aids was a huge challenge but now that I’ve worn them for so long it has become second nature to me.

Hearing aid technology has advanced considerably since your first set, what developments would you like to see in the future?

Hearing aid technology has come on massively but if I could make one change it would be the development of moulds. How cool would it be to have a 3D scanner than instantly makes your moulds? I imagine this technology may already exist but it’s certainly not widely available. I have to wait multiple weeks on the NHS before receiving new moulds.

Communication is can often be difficult, what advice would you give to a hearing person when you are having a conversation?

I would always make an effort to make them aware of my deafness beforehand to help prevent any issues. I have found people are more understanding than you would think once they’re aware of my disability. Also, as a general rule for everyone, you should always treat people how you would expect to be treated. I have issues with my hearing and I realise that other people may have hidden issues too, you should always be kind to everyone you meet.

Knowing what you know now and have experienced, what advice would you give to your 12 year old self?

Whilst It would be great to tell him the easiest routes through life I most probably wouldn’t tell him anything and I feel that I needed to experience all the highs and lows to achieve the happiness that I feel almost twenty years later! I would probably just tell him: “everything will be alright in the end”!

Shane Prendergast on his bike approaching the finish line where a group of people are cheering and applauding 

Shane is an inspiration to us all at Rayovac HQ. All hearing aid users should feel empowered and take on great personal challenges no matter how big or small.  As long as you take care of your devices and have a positive mind, you can take on challenges just as extreme!

To find our more on Shane Prendergast’s cycling journey across America, please visit www.rideforthechild.co.uk.

If you have any stories you would like to share with Rayovac, please get in touch.

"I have fully embraced my deafness and not let it hold me back"

"Be proud of who you are, everyone has problems and deafness is just another hurdle to overcome."