Carson resident, defending MB Grand Prix
champ Bahati a rising force in cycling
By Andrew Howard, Correspondent
Article Launched: 06/28/2008 05:24:27 AM PDT
Rashaan Bahati's life as a cyclist began with a misunderstanding. Reggie Garman, a teacher at Davis Middle School in Compton,
enrolled Bahati in an after-school program at Cal State Dominguez Hills
with a focus on bikes in order to keep him out of trouble. With the exact kind of bike left unspecified by Garman, Bahati did not know what exactly to expect.
thought it was going to be dirt bikes and motorcycles and I was really
excited," Bahati said. "Then I found out that it wasn't and then I
wasn't so excited. But my parents made me do it as punishment and as
something good to keep me out of trouble, and I've stuck with it ever
has not only stuck with it since that fateful day, he has excelled at
it. He enters Sunday's 47th annual Chevron Manhattan Beach Grand Prix
as the defending champion, a member of a team chock full of cycling
greats, Rock Racing and as one of the favorites to win it again this
Bahati, who was born in Lynwood and now lives in Carson, cycling has
defined the last eight years of his life, racing mostly in criteriums
throughout the country. In 2000, Bahati was the National Road Racing
Champion, Criterium Champion, and won the National Elite Criterium
the big breakthrough came in 2007 when he joined the newly created Rock
Racing Pro Cycling Team, established by CEO and Head Designer for Rock
& Republic clothing company, Michael Ball.
was introduced to Michael through a mutual friend," Bahati said. "When
we started he wanted to sponsor just a few riders. It wasn't a big
"After a while he realized that he could have something big and he wanted a professional cycling team." Ball, a former cyclist, knew Bahati was a terrific athlete, but initially was unaware of his ability on the bike. Now, after seeing all that he has accomplished, Ball has the utmost praise for his rider.
is an incredible athlete and he has the ability to be one of the great
cyclists," Ball said. "When we found out that he was free, we
immediately grabbed him. I think the plan that we try and implement
with this team is very much to his liking, and I think that he has
really fostered and bloomed with us. Now the wins come freely."
Those wins started last year, when Bahati earned the young Rock Racing team its biggest wins - the CSC Invitational in Arlington, Va. and the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix in June, wins Ball was supremely impressed with.
"We had just come of the CSC win which was huge, (and) it was always our intention to pick up Manhattan Beach,"
Ball said. "It's in our backyard and most of the team is from the area.
So it was very important to us and it was something that we wanted, and
he delivered." Bahati
believes the two wins he gained for the team while it was still early
in its development raised the credibility of Rock Racing tremendously. "(The
team has) seen its ups and downs, but it's really starting to take off
right now," Bahati said. "We are one of the best teams in the country.
Even across the Pond they are noticing and we have become one of the
most watched teams. For that to happen in just two years is
order to prepare to defend his title, Bahati said that he is training
on certain aspects he needs improvement in as opposed to general
of training for Sunday's 1.4-mile-course around Live Oak Park was
competing in the AT&T Downtown Austin Criterium two weeks ago,
where Bahati had a top-10 finish. He described it as a good, but not
great showing. Away
from the bike, Bahati is a quiet person, favoring calm activities over
loud and crowded parties. From playing Ghost Recon 2 on his Xbox 360 to
spending time with his family to having get-togethers with his
teammates, Bahati likes to stay low-key.
a pretty laid-back person," Bahati said. "I don't really like crowded
places. I'm more into hanging out at calm and underground places,
listening to jazz." Ball
believes Bahati's best quality is his intelligence. Ball went so far as
to say when Bahati decides to put the bicycle away, he would be willing
him to offer him a job with either management or the Rock &
is very well-spoken," Ball said. "I can have a conversation with him
about everything, from cycling to economics to fashion. He is so
When asked about the chances of a Bahati repeat on Sunday, Ball was confident. "I believe he has an incredible chance and I wouldn't expect anything less from him."
WHAT: 47th annual Chevron Manhattan Beach Grand Prix races
WHERE: The races start/finish at Live Oak Park
Races begin at 7 a.m. with the 50-minute Women's Pro 1-2 Race scheduled
for 11:15 a.m., and the 80-minute Men's Pro Race scheduled for 1:10
Link with photo: http://www.dailybreeze.com/sports/ci_9726839