USADSF Spotlight with Noah - US Deaflympian Richard Baraona

Noah: Hello! Welcome to the USADSF Spotlight with Noah. I am Noah Valencia. We will be talking with Richard Baraona. He is one of the first three deaf Americans to ever participate in the Deaflympics in cycling competition back then in 1965 at Washington, D.C. He participated in four different deaflympics (1965, 1969, 1973, and 1977) and won three silver medals and one bronze medal. He is the first American to ever win a medal in cycling competition. I am excited to talk to him today!

Noah: The first question that I asked him was how did he start his biking career and found his passion for it?

Richard: I was fifteen years old.

Noah: 15 years old? Wow!

Richard: I was a young boy when I found my passion for cycling. When I lived in San Francisco in 1962, I always enjoyed riding around the city with other kids where I usually race against them. The ride was short but I always won first place among the children. Then I saw a club riding together where I rode to join them. I became a member of that club where I usually ride every saturday morning.

Noah: Saturday?

Richard: Yes, Saturday. The club meets on Saturday to ride for fun, not for the competition purpose, tour purpose.

Noah: Yes, club.

Richard: I had to chase the members to join them where I will bike 10 miles from the restaurant to tour around the town on Saturday mornings. I was fifteen years old when I joined the club. When I turned 16 years old, I asked my dad for a new bike because my old bike had only three speeds while many others had ten speed bikes.

Noah: Yes, you're right!

Richard: Many of the club members have ten speed bikes. So I used a picture to show my parents to show them what I wanted. I had to beg them and they decided to buy it for me in San Francisco. It cost 79-89 dollars at that time but my parents couldn't afford it so they used Sears credit card to pay for it. The bike’s brand was Schwinn and it was really heavy but it had ten speeds. I finally joined the club’s speed level on Sundays. On Saturdays, I usually go on a tour but on Sunday, it was more like training. It was near my deaf school, California School for the Deaf, Berkeley. When I go home on the weekends, I get every chance to ride on Saturday and Sunday.

Image: Richard in a USA uniform along with another person standing by him.

Noah: How many times did you participate in the Deaflympics?

Richard: Three!

Noah: Three?

Richard: No. No. It was four times. First was in 1965 where I raced but did not win anything but I won a medal in 1969. In 1973 in Denmark then 1977 was the last one. When I got married, I decided to stop competing to focus on my wife and I felt too old to ride in competition. My skills were declining so I decided to retire. 1977 was my last one but I had the opportunity to compete in 1981 but I declined to focus on my family.

Noah: Family comes first!

Image: Richard competing. There is a group of cyclists racing, there is a red arrow that points Richard to demonstrate where he is.

Noah: The next question that I asked him is what does his training schedule while training for Deaflympics look like?

Noah: When riding, do you practice everyday?

Richard: Oh yes! I usually ride everyday from and to my workplace and sometimes in the early morning, I ride around. Sometimes I go for 100 miles but not all time. I play with the miles everyday, sometimes I go for 100, sometimes I go for 50 miles, and 25 miles. But in total, I ride for 500 miles in a week.

Noah: 500 miles?!

Richard: Yes, in a total of 7 days, I ride for 500 miles in total.

Noah: WOW!

Richard: Monday, 25 miles. Tuesday, depending on myself, 100 miles. Wednesday, 50 miles… and goes on. But in total, 500 miles in a week.

Noah: Amazing.

Noah: Richard is a special person as he is one of the first three cyclists to ever represent us and he has inspired many more cyclists to be part of Team USA cycling team. We must thank these three cyclists who bravely participated in the games. Out of three, Richard was one of them. So that was why I was excited to talk to him today!

Until then, so long!

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