We were surprised to read ex-tour de France champion and international felon Floyd Landis signed with the Bahati Cycling team.
Going from an almost-spot on Rock Racing to Bahati was a big switch in philosophy, like jumping off the pirate ship to work for the Peace Corps.
Based on appearance and reputation, Floyd and Rahsaan are the old couple of cycling. Cynical and optimistic, negative and positive, bitter and grateful, night and day. Angry metal guitarist meets Bob Marley and they roll a few.
And yet, in an odd way they are joined at the femur. Both know the terrible and relentless agony of racing a bike on a damaged hip joint. Landis won the Tour de France gritting his teeth, his hip joint a sclerotic mess in need of immediate replacement.
Bahati has ridden for years with a crushed L5 vertebrae and right femur head that’s so overgrown in size that it rubs painfully in his hip socket with every pedal stroke. Yet in 2008 he still won the US National Criterium Championships.
Maybe, to the surprise of both, they have plenty in common. Both came to bike racing from unlikely and unexpected backgrounds. Landis, from a closed, restrictive Mennonite upbringing and Bahati from the gang streets of Los Angeles. They escaped those worlds by pedaling fast and not looking back.
Now, the entrprenurial and community-focused Bahati has built his own cycling team with a unique vision: bring cycling to underprivileged kids. The Bahati Foundation will introduce them to cycling and provide grants for education and music.
It’s a mission that seems to resonate with Landis, who’s always had a soft spot for outcasts, long-shots and kids that didn’t get the same chance as others.
“Cycling has given me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise have had, and I look forward to helping provide the same opportunities for less fortunate kids.” said Landis.
FLoyd has found a home and in some strange and unexpected way, it’s the right place. Time to move on in his life. He’s never going to get his Tour de France crown back; he’s never going to race again in Europe.
He’s never going to recover the fortune in legals fees or regain any part of his old life as superstar cyclist, the next Armstrong. This is starting over and Rahsaan Bahati, not egotistical blowhard Michael Ball, is the man to help Floyd get his head straight and his soul back.
We miss the happy Floyd, the funny Floyd, the wacky Floyd — anybody but the Pissed Off At The World Floyd. He needs a big brother who wakes up and sees the world, for all its faults and injustice, is a freakin’ fantastic place. We’er excited to see what these two guys could do together.
Here’s hoping the Tour of California invites the smart, cool and passionate Bahati Foundation Cycling Team to the big show. Floyd and Rahsaan. It’s an odd couple, but a damn good one.