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Rahsaan Bahati: One leg tied behind his back

Bahati found a home with Rock Racing.

Bahati found a home with Rock Racing. (Image credit: Jon Devich)

Rahsaan Bahati is one of top criterium racers in the U.S., and he's had a strong season since joining the Rock Racing team last year. Yet his wins have come despite a multitude of injuries which have left him able to pedal fully with only one leg. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski talked with Bahati on the team's 'bling-bling' bus during Philly week.

Back in 2000 Rahsaan Bahati turned quite a few heads by winning the U.S. elite criterium national championship... as a junior. That win launched his career through several top teams; Mercury, Saturn and TIAA-CREF (now Slipstream.) But none of the teams seemed to match his personality, until 2007 when he found himself on the upstart Rock Racing team. The kid from Compton was 'home,' and his win at the CSC Invitational put the new team on the map.

This year, just when he should be making a career jump equal to the size of his team, Bahati has been quieted by a long-standing set of injuries. Nonetheless he crossed off a major career goal by winning the infamous Athens Twilight criterium and recently defended his win at Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, but did so mostly using one leg.

A little has been already written about Rahsaan Bahati and his chronic leg injury; but to be more specific it is actually a combination of four separate ailments, each of which would cause a cyclist significant pain.

"The first thing, what is giving me the most problems, is that my L5 vertebrae is crushed," he said. "It hasn't actually slipped out, it is just crushed. I had a MRI done on it because I get these huge lumps in my back when I race – they are really big. I can stretch it out but then it always comes back. When I finally got the MRI they did it in two halves – when they got to my back they saw my L5 is crushed. But they also found this tendon called the triremeal is completely torn!"

"They said we can do surgery on that and totally fix it, but you'll be out for like 8 weeks to heal."

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