Monday, September 19, 2005

Help, I've Fallen, and I Can't Get Up

Anyone who knows me well knows that after mid-July of any given year, my life changes considerably. My windsurfing friends stop calling me to tell me that "Crissy is going off, man, get down here!!!". My mountain biking friends stop inviting me on weekend rides. My wife and son expect me to be gone from 5-7pm of any given weekday, as well as to be generally unavailable for most of at least one day of every weekend. That change is the onset of Cyclocross Season - beginning the end of September and running into January.

I'm a cyclocross fanatic. Every July, I stop doing whatever fun activities I was doing, and start a daily training regimen getting my body in shape for the rigors of these crazy one-hour races where me and 20-150 of my best buddies ride, run, jump, and slop our way around grassy, sandy, muddy, courses just for the fun of it. It's something I really enjoy, and don't completely suck at - although that comes with a fair amount of preparation.

This year that preparation was progressing as usual. In spite of a bad back injury at the end of last year that kept me mostly bed-ridden for the good part of 3 months, I started my training again in July. I was able to resume practicing dismounts/remounts in mid-August with little pain. I gingerly completed my first race in 8 months (the notorious SF-based DFL series) finishing right behind winner Simon Vickers - I felt passing this test meant that cyclocross season was going to happen for me after all, and I could only get fitter and faster from there in my annual (or annually unsuccessful) quest to win a Masters National Cyclocross Championship, held this December in Providence, RI.

Well, that all came to an abrupt end last week. On Tuesday I did some on-the-bike sprints and one-minute intervals, and came home to do my back exercises – I’ve really been pushing the back exercises in hopes to not re-injure myself riding/running and it seemed to be working. Well, I think I pushed a little too hard that night. On Wednesday morning I felt a little twang in my back, and it felt oddly-familiar. Still, it wasn’t so bad but as the day progressed it got worse, but I thought I may have just strained a muscle in my back exercises. At around 5pm I got dressed for the 2nd DFL race (note, getting “dressed” for DFL actually involves a dress, but that’s another story), got my backpack together, and attempted to hop on the bike to ride across town to the race. That’s when the real pain started. As soon as my butt hit the saddle I felt the sharp pain in my lower back, and I couldn’t even reach the bar-tops without wincing. I came back in the house and collapsed on the bed, and decided then and there that cyclocross, my annual Fall romance, was over for the season before it really started. I made a quick phone call to Cameron Falconer – a concession speech for the DFL series (a necessity after all the smack-talk) and started to wonder what the f**k I’m going to do with myself for the next 3 months – besides recovering, that is.

A few friends told me not to give up on the season, maybe come back and race later on. No. Not gonna happen. I’m starting to think of myself in 20 years and I decided I want to walk into middle/old age, not roll into it in a wheelchair. I can’t keep doing this to myself, and I’m starting to wonder if I should ever race cyclocross again, a thought that really pains me because I feel like I’ve been doing this for such a short time (since ’99 as a Surf City B) and it’s so much goddamn fun.

So…I’ve got this sweet new Scandium cross bike that Jeremy Sycip built for me that is just waiting for wheels, chain, and adjustment. It’s beautiful. It’s probably going to wait a long time. I’m wondering if I should give it back.

Now I’m wondering what to do with my wide open Fall schedule. Luckily I’m not completely laid up like I was last January-March, so I think I’ll at least be able to do SOMETHING after a little rehab. And perhaps this Winter I’ll actually get to snowboard. Maybe I’ll finally spend enough time surfing to start calling myself a surfer. One thing I know is that this Fall my family will have some real fun and CA sun – Liam is almost 3 and more fun and adventurous every day, so Frances and I can plan some camping trips in the Fall instead of being at the mercy of the CX Calendar...god knows I owe it to Frances after years of making her a weekend bike-widow, or worse - dragging her along to the races.

But…I still can’t imagine all those races going on without me. I’ll miss trying to keep up with Andy, Ben, Jackson, and Justin…if only for a lap or two. I’ll really miss my weekly battles with Cameron, Josh, Aaron, Brent, etc. And I'll really miss the scene - all those guys and gals in all the categories that help make the CX scene here in Northern California the great big fiesta that it is, from the Velo Bellas to the DF-ellas to my cross-crazy Sycip teammates...I think I'm getting a little teary-eyed...

Good luck guys. Try to miss me a little, will ya?

This American Disaster

I just got back from a weekend away with the family. Before I left, I loaded a bunch of episodes of my (and Frances') favorite radio show, NPR's "This American Life" (WBEZ, Chicago) onto the iPod to listen to in the car while Liam was asleep in his car seat. I swear if we could pump this radio show into the houses of the so-called "Red States", the people of this country might start to understand what it really means to be an American. Each week's show is based on a theme and has stories from people around the country as told by those people coaxed on by the show's amazing host/producer Ira Glass. Anyhow, Ira Glass has this incredible way of getting stories out of people in a relaxed, courteous, non-confrontational manner and then puts the stories together that are always poignant, and often ironic, unbelievable, and/or downright hilarious.

One not-so-hilarious but quite thought-provoking episode was 9/9's "After the Flood" that Frances and I listened to last night on the way home from Tahoe. The personal accounts from the Katrina hurricane and aftermath helped me really understand what people were going through on an extremely personal level. Most unbelievable was the story of the Gretna police department turning away throngs of would-be evacuees at gunpoint from the bridge connecting New Orleans to Gretna, a small town on the other (non-flooded) side of the Mississippi. I was also incredibly moved by the "Social Studies Lesson" from a poor New Orleans 18-year-old in rebuttal to Bill O'Reilly's outrageous post-Katrina conclusions.

I can't wait to listen to this past week's episode (9/16 "This Is Not My Beautiful House") on the displaced hurricane evacuees.

"This American Life" is on the Bay Area's KQED 88.5FM every Saturday at noon (or check your local NPR schedule). I listen for free online on the "This American Life" website:

Downloads also available for purchase at

Ira Glass for President!!!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

This is the Woman Who Raised Our President

Well, we all just got little insight into the mind of the woman who taught our wonderful president his values.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them" -Barbara Bush (

Yes, Barbara, I'm sure it's a wonderful adventure, travelling, seeing the sites of Texas, a wonderful little camping trip to the Astrodome. At least they're not holed up in their little "shanties" (or whatever you call a 2-bedroom single-family home) worrying about their next meal. All they have to worry about is their missing loved ones, irreplacable possessions, pets, homes...

Un-freaking-believable...I think I'm going to be sick...

Thursday, September 01, 2005

DFL Smackdown

Funke: Kid Cam is going down, and the DFL trophy is coming back to the Funke household for sure...fame and fortune are sure to follow close behind. EAT MY DUST, punk.

Cameron: I'm going to flog you so hard at the dfL series that you want to cry and sell all of your bikes and never race again.

Funke: He's gonna need a dress and a wig and a whole new identity to hide behind after the humiliation suffered from the colossal butt-whipping that I plan to unleash.

Cameron: He can say whatever he wants, he's a crippled old man with a bad back and Alzheimer's anyway...

Aquatic Insurgency in New Orleans

Yikes, I'm already getting political...

With the horrific images of devastation coming across the wire from the hurricane-ravaged areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, and the terrible stories of local police units being swamped (both figuratively and literally) and unable to serve and protect as they would like, one can only imagine how much more swiftly our government would have reacted to this disaster if it had been a terrorist attack.

Of course our government is not to blame for such a disaster, but knowing how much of our money and troops are going to our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan leads me to ponder how useful even a fraction of these resources would be in a time of domestic crisis like this...and how much better our troops would be received...

That would be one massive military undertaking I would have supported wholeheartedly.

Indeed the parallels of Katrina to 9/11 are being drawn all over the place - promises of how the great American might and will can overcome...blah blah blah. At times like this I like to look outside our own domestic media for a more rational view from those who are not trying to politicize the issue.

Here's one from the BBC: