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For Rahsaan Bahati, growing up in Compton, California, in the early ’80s is inseparably tied to who he is. “Drugs and guns and violence and everything else that was going on that wasn’t positive, I was surrounded by it,” he said of his upbringing. Through family, community and bikes, he found positive influences amongst all that.
But bikes weren’t always a part of Rahsaan’s life. A seventh grade English teacher got him into cycling, presenting him with bikes or golf as options for activities. And though he chose the former thinking it was motorcycles, that choice turned out to be a life-defining one.
He discusses getting started on the track and beginning to race at 13 years old, as well as breaking into road cycling from the track as a teenager, then moving on to becoming a pro, and the mix of good results and luck that required.
A support system has also been crucial to Rahsaan’s success. From his mom, dad, five sisters and a brother to the community in LA with a group called Major Motion which provided funds and equipment to race, there has been a lot of help along the way.
Rahsaan makes sure to give back. That’s why he founded the Bahati Foundation, which teaches life skills to kids and supports schools. “We’ve been lucky enough to really have the faculty, and the staff and the principals really support us….without them we can’t get into their schools, we can’t have an impact on them,” he says.
In his 39 years, Rahsaan has also packed quite a bit in. From deciding to pursue college instead of racing at the highest level, to racing the Race Across America, there have been a lot of stages along the way, with so many hats worn that it can be hard to keep track of it all.
Listen to the latest episode of Bobby & Jens for the full conversation.
“Bobby & Jens” is a weekly VeloNews podcast brought to you by Zwift. It stars former pros Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt and features conversations with top athletes, coaches, emerging stars, and other newsmakers from the wide world of cycling. A new episode drops every Friday. Subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts.