Caroline S. has always loved the outdoors but only discovered her love of biking as an adult and developed an even greater appreciation once she received a cochlear implant. For Caroline, as well as the sense of freedom, biking has opened up a whole new world she could never have imagined. Here’s her story.

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Struggling with hearing loss

“About 15 years ago, it was obvious I was losing my hearing. Social activities became challenging and learning was hard. I found myself gravitating to physical things instead. It was then that I discovered I belonged outdoors.

About that same time, I was driving home from an event one night and spotted a group of people riding along on mountain bikes, covered in mud. I said to my husband Andreas, ‘I want to do that one day.’

Though it was not just about bikes – whenever I saw a car with kayaks strapped to the roof I’d say, ‘I want to be like those people.’

A close up head shot photo of Caroline wearing her bike helmet and sunglasses

Growing up loving the outdoors leads to love of biking as an adult

As a child, my favorite pastimes were walking in the woods near my childhood home, climbing the trees which lined the schoolyard, and taking a spin around the neighborhood on my bike.

We lived in the suburbs. My mom was deaf (my hearing loss is genetic) and my dad worked a lot. The freedom of fresh air, green things and flowing water was something I always craved.

It suddenly felt like biking would unleash that world again.

I set out to buy my first real mountain bike. It was cheap, heavy and did not have great parts, but it was solid and carried me where I wanted to go: outside.

I quickly became an avid rider and decided to give a charity ride a go. I remember flying around a corner, crying tears of joy because it felt so good to be outside in the sunshine, feeling the wind on my face, without the pressure to hear what anyone was saying. It was just me, the road and the fields.

Fast forward a few more years and I found myself competing in the Trans Rockies Challenge, an epic 7-day 700km mountain bike ride across the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It’s considered to be one of the most difficult mountain bike races in the world. A fraction of the starters even finish.

How hearing with a cochlear implant while cycling changed my life

But the truth is, I did not always feel safe riding with hearing loss. It can be a real hazard if you can’t hear fellow cyclists on the trails.

And riding on city streets or country roads made me nervous and tense; I could not tell when a car was approaching from behind. Whenever I joined a group ride, I always chose the last position so I could see everyone and not worry about missing a call to stop.

Then in 2018, my world changed when I received my cochlear implant. After being activated, one of my very first thoughts was: ‘I can hear while… CYCLING!’

Caroline proudly carries her bike across a river

Naturally, I had some concerns about biking with a cochlear implant

I was worried when I was first implanted, wondering if I would need to give up biking altogether. How would a bike helmet fit over my sound processor without having to cut the foam, which would compromise the integrity of the helmet?

My concerns quickly dissipated

But there was no need to worry: ‘”Mo’” (my Cochlear™ Nucleus® Kanso® Sound Processor’s*nickname – short for more sound, more love, more life) fits easily under my bike helmet.

With my Kanso Sound Processor, my experience on the bike has been incredible and has opened up a whole new world.

Mo does not need any extra attention because of physical activity. I change batteries every other day and I wipe the sound processor with a soft cloth every day. I store Mo in my dry aid kit each night while I sleep so that any residual moisture from sweating or rain is looked after and keeps Mo working well, giving me great sound and fidelity.

One of my fondest memories has been the ‘Courage Ride for Rehab’ in support of the local hospital where our cochlear implant center is located.

At the start line I could suddenly hear the rules and safety instructions. The national anthem was sung in three-part harmony: I sobbed at the beauty of hearing three voices singing in the open air.

It was also the very first time I have been able to chat with fellow cyclists on the road. And for the first time, I could hear supporters on the side of the road call out: ‘Way To Go!’ And I hollered back: ‘So far, so good!’ For me this brought tears of joy.

Fast forward to 2019. I have been hearing for nearly two years and still, every day on the bike is a fascinating soundscape.

Living my best life

And because I have a cochlear implant, I have reconnected with those who also love being outdoors. I am reconnected to my environment, and the green, wet, wonderful world around me. Because I have a cochlear implant, I am safer. Because I have a cochlear implant, I can ride – and live a life of adventure again.”

Get to know your device and find your adventure with the Kanso Processor

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  1. The Kanso Sound Processor is compatible with the Nucleus Profile Plus Series, Nucleus Profile Series, CI500 Series, CI24RE (Freedom) Series, CI24R and CI24M implants. The Kanso Sound Processor will not be compatible with the Nucleus® 22 (N22) Implant due to the Kanso Sound Processor’s size and coil type.
Anna Martinez
Anna Martinez is the Services and Marketing Specialist and has worked for Cochlear since 2016. She is responsible for facilitating recipient services content development and approval. Anna is a Colorado native and enjoys being outside in the beautiful weather with her husband and daughter.