Words and photos by Christie Oliver
Back in 2012, four time WMX champion and X-Games gold medalist Ashley Fiolek, 23, retired from the outdoor nationals series, leaving fans with the endless questions of what was next for the deaf rider. As it turns out, in spite of hanging up her racing boots, Fiolek has been keeping busy in more ways than one, with the most focus going towards her charitable foundation. "I've been trying to set up the Ashley Fiolek Foundation," she said. "It's not going to grow that much this year, but it'll be bigger in 2015."
The AFF is a not-for-profit organization that will provide programs to women's and youth groups in need. The programs will include inspirational speaking and the Dirt Bike Outreach, where children will get to experience riding. Goals for this foundation are to inspire and guide towards success and new possibilities. "At this time, I'm trying to get as many sponsors to help with this," Fiolek said. "So far, Bell and Alpinestars have been able to help by giving helmets and gear to the kids when they learn to ride."
"Right now it's hard to focus solely on that because I'm also doing something else. I can't say exactly what it is, but it's stunt work, and for 49 weeks I'll be traveling. We can announce more details of that in July."
In the past year, Ashley took on an acting role as Robin Swiller, a motocross girl, in ABC Family's hit show, Switched at Birth. Many thought we'd see her again in a future episode, but she says there won't be anymore. "It was a great experience and it was great to be a part of it. Hopefully I can do something again with them in the future."
This year brought Husqvarna back into the motocross world. The company rebranded this year when the popular company was bought out by KTM. To keep her on a bike, riding, and having fun, Husqvarna offered Fiolek a 125 two-stroke. "It's an awesome bike, I love riding it," Fiolek said. "It's really fast and it flows really well. I can't thank Husky enough for this opportunity. As far as a return to racing goes, you never know. If I have a good opportunity and the WMX grows, maybe. But right now I just want to ride for fun. That's what I love doing. Of course, I'll always miss racing; I love winning. But at the same time, it's nice to relax because I've been racing for nine years. Now I'm riding for fun and I love it."
What else does the future hold for Fiolek? In two words: a lot. In 2010, she published her own book with co-writer Caroline Ryder, Kicking Up Dirt. Beginning next year, the book will start to transition into the movie scene, and will be featured in the US and in Europe. "It's a long process and I think it'll take a few years, but I'm really excited for it. It's going to be like Soul Surfer, a true story but real actors will be acting as me and my family. They will have to learn Sign and everything. I will be riding in the movie though, so it'll be fun. You better watch it!"