I think I first noticed the Bahati Foundation name when they signed Floyd Landis to the team. A little while later, several people expressed surprise when Bahati was passed over for a Tour of California invitation. Then up and coming Bahati racer Jorge Alvarado was killed when a car driver lost control and hit the cyclist. That’s when I decided to look into the Bahati Foundation; the story is pretty amazing.
The Bahati Foundation is the brainchild of track and road cyclist Rahsaan Bahati. He grew up in Compton, California, where gang violence results in the fourth highest crime rate in the United States and a homicide rate eight times the national average.
Hijinks in his middle school resulted in a confrontation with his teacher. The teacher gave Bahati a choice between two after school programs: bikes or golf. Golf was lame, and Bahati thought “bikes” meant “motorcycles.”
The next day Rahsaan’s father took him to the LA Velodrome in Carson. Rahsaan was shocked to see not motorcycles, but skinny lycra clad white boys riding circles on bicycles. Reluctantly, he got on a bicycle and began pedaling around the track but immediately found a natural connection between himself and the bike.
While many of his friends and classmates fell into the gang lifestyle, Rahsaan trained and competed. After only six months of competitive cycling, Rahsaan was picked to go to Kenosha, Wisconsin for the US Junior Track Nationals. He brought four medals home that year and launched a junior career that brought him over 80 victories and 5 straight selections to the US National Team. In 2000 he won the amateur USCF National Criterium Championships.
Bahati would move on to compete professionally for Rock Racing after he completed his degree at Indiana University, winning the elite USPRO National Criterium Championships in 2008.
After his career with Rock Racing, Rahsaan started a bike racing team and created the the Bahati Foundation as a way to encourage youth to be positive about life, using the sport of cycling and his own life story to motivate young people to reach for their goals.
Rahsaan Bahati has a lot of natural talent and he works hard at what he does. He deserves to succeed. Plus, his hair is marvelous.
Photo by Ken Conley
District Cycling interviewed Rahsaan Bahati in their latest podcast, where he talked about the mission of his foundation, his time with Rock Racing, his his crash in the Dana Point Grand Prix last weekend, and the death of Jorge Alvarado.