Rahsaan Bahati was introduced to cycling as an eleven-year-old by his sixth grade teacher at Davis Middle School in Compton, California. This year, Bahati is celebrating 10 years of success with his Bahati Foundation, which helps underprivileged school kids with athletics and academics through equipment donations and inspiration.
This week, Bahati is joining the VeloNews Group Ride on Zwift at Wednesday at 8:30am PT / 11:30am ET. If you’re on Zwift, it’s free to join and you can come chat with Bahati.
From Compton to national titles and back again
In 2000, a young Bahati had a breakout year, winning both the national junior road and criterium titles, plus the elite USCF national title. His finishing sprint helped launch a successful career with a string of teams, including Mercury, Saturn, McGuire Langdale, TIAA-CREF, Rock Racing, and Bahati Foundation.
He won the 2008 pro national criterium title with Rock Racing, one of the most colorful teams in cycling from 2007 to 2009 under the helm of Rock & Republic owner Michael Ball.
“Rock Racing was some of the best times of my life,” Bahati said. “Meeting Ball at the 2007 Track Nationals in Carson, California, was just being at the right place at the right time. He loved my style; he wanted to sponsor me. We met a few weeks later and after walking him through pro cycling and how it works, he agreed to start a team and the team was born. The first season was the best but more importantly, I think Ball changed how teams, clothing and bike manufacturers looked at design and pushing the limits. I wish he was still in the sport; he was good for the sport.”
After Rock Racing, Bahati created his own team around the foundation that he formed, the Bahati Foundation.
“I had a vision to take control of my own destiny but I also wanted it to be meaningful and this is why the foundation was born and the team was attached to it,” he said.
In partnering with sponsors and others in the community, the Bahati Foundation has donated not only hundreds of bikes to kids, but also band instruments and basketball equipment. Bahati has done more than 50 speaking engagements in schools, and helped start school cycling clubs.
“I’m just happy and lucky I had two parents that cared and raised us with good values and morals,” Bahati said. “This helped shape my life which innately gave me the courage to help others. Outside of that, getting notes, emails, and messages about how I have inspired people around the world has been very humbling and I am proud to know that the career I pursued helped change other people’s lives in a positive way.”
Bahati now lives in California with his wife, three daughters, and dog, and works at Zwift as social-impact manager.
Ride with Bahati on Wednesday
The VeloNews Wednesday Group Ride is an hourlong session where the leaders ride at 2.5-3 watts per kilo for the duration.
On the flat Watopia Waistband course, the pace in the group is 2.5-3 w/kg, but if you come off the back, it gets harder quickly. So the name of the game is staying as close to the two yellow leader beacons as you can.
You can sign up here for the VeloNews group ride, or through the Zwift Companion App.
The ride is Wednesday, May 13, at 8:30am PT / 11:30am ET.