The Challenged Athletes Foundation’s (CAF) Women’s Adaptive Cycling Team returned to racing after over a year at the Paralympics Cycling Open in Huntsville, Alabama last weekend.
“The Open was an important race to kick off the season, at stake were selections for the upcoming World Cup in Ostend, Belgium,” said the team’s captain Alicia Dana.
The first of its kind, the CAF Women’s Adaptive Cycling Team consists of six female adaptive cyclists who compete at different levels and classifications. Some members, including Dana and eight-time Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters, are working to qualify for the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic games.
The CAF Women’s Adaptive Cycling Team is coached by accomplished handcyclist, Carlos Moleda. In 1989, the Navy SEAL and Purple Heart recipient was paralyzed in the line of duty. Since his injury, Moleda has become a world-renowned endurance athlete, a pioneer for the sport of wheelchair racing, a six-time National Handcycling Champion, and a five-time Hawaii Ironman Champion.
Nevertheless, as he rose through the ranks of adaptive cycling, Moleda saw that something was missing in the women’s field.
“Our main objective in working as a team is to encourage and inspire others, with a focus on getting more women on bikes and involved in sports,” said Moleda, who is also the manager of the CAF Women’s Adaptive Cycling Team. “These women are ambassadors for athletes with disabilities on so many levels and are changing the face of women in the cycling world and sports in general.”
CAF’s competitive cycling team of six includes Paralympic medalists, World Cup champions, paracycling national champions, and developing cyclists who range from ages 17 to 49. Over the years, CAF has supported each member with grants for equipment, training, and competition expenses.
The CAF Women’s Adaptive Cycling team message aligns with CAF’s belief that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence, and enhances quality of life.
“There’s nothing more powerful than a determined group of females supporting each other,” said Oksana Masters, an eight-time Paralympic medalist. “Coming together and being around like-minded people with similar challenges is not only motivating but also life-changing.”