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?


Craig said...
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Greg Keller said...

Funke, man-oh-man I am so sorry about your back issues man. You are an inspriration for me as a dad and general guy who has to find the time to go and train/practice/improve. I will be thinking about you out here in Boulder and willing you to get that back back in bid-ness in order to rock bells. Last year in Golden Gate, I saw a Funke that was on fire. I know I'll se eit again! Adios bro. Greg

Linda Elgart said...


I am so sorry about your back injury. It certainly teaches us patience!!

When nationals were in SF, the first year that I thought I might, maybe, if everything went right, be able to win, instead I crashed and broke my wrist in the beginning of November. I had surgery, a plate, and an external fixator. (Ever seen one? Creepy!) I stood at the start line in the Presidio watching my race start, and burst into tears.

It took 3 years, but I finally won (after missing Kansas City, and having a mechanical while I was leading in Baltimore) on a miserable rainy day at Domaine Chandon. It was one of the best days of my life.

You can come back...