Going back 10 years, if I had been asked what I would do for the rest of my life the answer would have probably been surf and develop land. Up to that point I had some success in amateur competition and had a pretty significant support from a few companies. I wasn't even aware what "freeride" was or that anyone rode stand up watercraft in the surf. But because of a few very frustrating years of dealing with some insane back issues that came as a result of surfing, I went searching for something else...and found freeride.
Since about 2000 I've had 5 separate "episodes" with my back that leave me more or less unable to move and in tremendous amounts of pain. The first two times happened the same exact way, backside bottom turn in to a snap off a section. My back went the instant I hit the section fully twisted, ready to finish the turn. Those episodes left my back permanently stiff and sore, and made getting out of bed in the morning amazingly painful. I kept surfing, but that was just a lesson in frustration. Finally around a year later, my back went again just as I was beginning to stand up. That was pretty much when I figured it was time to focus on something else.
Over the ensuing 5 or six years, I surfed off and on but not much and my back always got stiff and I paid for it over the next several days. That was until 2007 when my back went out for the 4th time at the first stop of the 2007 IFWA World Tour in Portugal.
After practice on the friday before the event, I tried to help get a 4 wheeler unstuck from the sand and my back went again. Well...after a full night of Liz helping me stretch, some really strong muscle relaxers, 4 pounds of Ibuprofen, and alternating heat and cold therapies...I was able to compete the next day.
I came back from that event determined to figure out how to fix my back. Since then, I have totally changed how I workout now a workout is probably 50% stretching, went to see some specialists, and in 2008 started putting some serious miles on the mountain bike which seems to really help keep my back loose. All of that worked pretty well. Then after discovering the severity of my knee and shoulder injuries earlier this year, I decided that I would just lay low for a few months and let my body recover.
A couple months of nothing more than stretching really did me a lot of good, and for the first time in literally 10 years I was over my back pain. And I think most of my close friends have heard me say the past couple months, that despite my knee issue, I was healthier than I have been in the past 10 years. I've felt so good recently that the past couple of months I've been surfing...allot. To the point that I thought it might be fun to hit up a few of the local WSA events.
But today changed all of that again...back side snap to horrendous pain...and here we are.
I'll recover from this just fine...but this injury really has changed the course of my life. If not for my back condition, I never would have started riding watercraft...and I certainly would have missed out on some incredible life experiences and an incredible sport. Indirectly, this injury has lead me to something else that I truly love to do, and because I have a little ability to do it well, I have had the pleasure of traveling the world as a "professional athlete." I would not change the course of how things have happened...but I for sure would love to be able to get past this.