Monday, March 15, 2010

Raising Awareness

Last week I mentioned that Floyd Landis will be racing once again with the newly formed Bahati Foundation Team which had its kickoff Saturday night in LA.  The goal of the foundation formed by Rahsaan Bahati is to inspire inner city youths to accomplish great things through cycling and music.  Certain esthetic elements of the team have been so designed in an attempt to connect with the young people of urban LA, such as the graffiti-styled new team kit.  According to VeloNews, the jerseys were designed "to reach urban youth and provide a positive message."
In a further attempt to connect with inner city youngsters, Bahati has hired a number of cyclists who can personally identify with the challenges these kids face, again, in attempt to give the team a "face" with which they can relate.  Like Art Garfunkle.

Oh, I kid.  This of course is Alex Hagman, formerly of Toshiba-Santo Pro, and now new Bahati Foundation signee.  Now, I know absolutely nothing about living in the inner city, (of any city) really, so know precious little of the struggles that occur there, but wonder how much a professional cycling team can really help out troubled kids no matter how pure Bahati's intentions are.  There is just a difference between raising awareness and raising help.  For example, I'm acutely aware that I suck the big one on the back of a bike....but that won't help make me any better.  Or consider the recent onslaught of highly publicized celebrity outdoor excursions meant to raise awareness to some the Summit on the Summit project where Jessica  Biel and somebody named Kenna climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise awareness that over 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. 
What in the hell does climbing Kilimanjaro have to do with the water crisis?  If they really wanted to exert a physical effort in Africa to raise awareness to the lack of clean drinking water, why not help dig some wells in Kenya?  I'm guessing the cost of just one of their Ascent climbing jackets alone could have probably paid for more than just a few shovels.  Maybe that wouldn't be as sexy for their MTV special, though.

But I digress...Rahsaan Bahati himself credits cycling and music as providing roads to a better life, so perhaps with interactions between the team and some kids needing direction, something good can come of it all.  After all, if Floyd rode out of his Mennonite ghetto on the saddle of a could work for anyone!  My only criticism is that maybe Bahati could have picked some additional members for the team that have a bit of existing street cred to foster a more rapid bond....say like Bob Roll.

Bob Roll talks about Jailtime and Embro. from j. dunn on Vimeo.

I wonder if the jailtime he experienced occured as a result of the 1987 Tour of Switzerland, in which Bob was sent on a mission to protect 7-Eleven team leader Andy Hampsten at all costs.  Check out the threat he lays down at minute 4:50.

Pedal on!

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