Paving The Way
RAHSAAN BAHATI TEAMS UP WITH GIANT TO CREATE CYCLING OPPORTUNITIES FOR INNER-CITY YOUTH
I never thought the 11-year-old kid running around the infield of a velodrome would go on to have a 21-year cycling career and change the way inner-city kids look at cyclists.
My story starts in Compton, California, the city where I was born. Compton sits in the center of Los Angeles, giving it the nickname “The Hub City.” You’ve probably heard of it, and yes, it’s everything that’s depicted in the movies that showcase its poverty, gangs, drugs and guns. I was lucky to have both parents at home, along with five sisters and a younger brother, but I still witnessed my fair share of violence growing up in the city.
But it was the bike that changed my life forever.
When I was young and attending Benjamin Davis Middle School (named after a Tuskegee Airman), I found myself getting into trouble. Lucky for me, I had a teacher named Reggie Garmon who cared. Instead of sending me to the principal’s office to be expelled, Mr. Garmon introduced my parents and me to the idea of riding bikes.
When he mentioned bikes, my eyes lit up. I saw myself ripping through dirt fields on a motorcycle, not a bicycle. Nevertheless, I tried my hand in an after-school program that catered to inner-city youth at the Cal State Dominguez Hills Velodrome, where the 1984 Olympic Summer Games were held.