For three years, from 1998-2000, former Navy SEAL Carlos Moleda and motocross legend David Bailey went head-to-head in Kona in the handcycle division. Moleda had been paralyzed when he was shot in the back during a mission in Panama. Bailey was a legend in the sport of motocross and at the top of his game before he had been paralyzed during a training session.
For the first two years, Moleda had his way with Bailey. But heading into the 2000 race, Bailey looked fitter than he had ever been before. He knew that he had to put in ridiculous mileage in the pool, in his handcycle, and in his racing chair if he wanted to finally take down Moleda.
The two were on a collision course and it played out that way on race day. Moleda went by Bailey going up Palani early in the handcycle ride. Bailey caught him on the way back to town, but flatted with about six miles to go in the ride and Moleda got away.
Early in the marathon, Bailey was losing ground. But then all of those training sessions started to pay dividends and he caught and passed Moleda as they came out of the Natural Energy Lab.
When Bailey came across the line for the win, he waited for Moleda. When Moleda arrived, the two embraced and I could see Bailey whisper something to Moleda.
As we headed away from the finish, I asked Moleda what Bailey had said to him.
“He told me ‘Thank You,’” said Moleda.
“What?” I said in surprise.
“That’s what I said!” Moleda continued. “He said ‘thank you for pushing me to a level I never would have reached on my own.’”
The three year battle between the two of them was special because the word disability and the wheelchairs disappeared. What we had on race day was two amazing athletes who wanted nothing more than to kick the others guy’s ass.
How awesome is that?
Listen to the Babbittville Radio interview with David Bailey here.
Listen to the Babbittville Radio interview with Carlos Moleda here.
Listen to the Babbittville Radio interview with David’s Ironman coach Todd Jacobs here.
Enjoy this in-depth interview with David Bailey, filmed at a Triathlon Club of San Diego meeting…