Can Funk Bike to Vegas in 24 Hours?

By SUE PASCOE

Editor

 

19-Funk-bike revealAndy Funk will leave Dockweiler State Beach at 1 a.m. on April 23 and plans to arrive in Las Vegas exactly 24 hours later—by bike.

The Rustic Canyon resident will attempt to do something that no one has ever attempted before in order to raise funds for the Pink Lotus Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping uninsured, under-insured and low-income women receive totally free breast cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment services.

Pink Lotus Breast Center in Beverly Hills was founded in 2007 by Funk and his wife Dr. Kristi Funk, a board-certified surgical breast specialist. She has helped thousands of women, including well-known celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Sheryl Crow.

“We’re not just a VIP clinic,” Funk said. “Even though some woman are covered by medical and Medicare, it can take up to two years from diagnosis to treatment, which can be a death sentence. We see so many women who need help that can’t pay for it.”

Although about $250 million gets poured into research annually, which Funk says is necessary to find a cure, “Little goes to those who need the help today.”

Funk, 39, will ride the 365 miles, starting with the Imperial Highway and eschewing freeways. He will make his way to Chino, El Monte and then towards Palm Springs, turning to Joshua Tree and hooking up with Route 66 into Las Vegas.

His idea for this ride comes from what a woman goes through when she is diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I’m worried, because I don’t know what to expect,” Funk said. “I’ll be alone, my journey will be unpredictable.”

19-Funk familyHe decided to do the bike ride unassisted because many women who are on this journey have no support, no safety net. They are in emotional and physical pain. If he blows a tire, he will have to figure out how to fix it. Most of the ride will be in the desert during the hottest part of the day and his total vertical climb will be 14,500 feet.

“I’m worried about the dry desert air,” Funk said. “Between Palm Springs and Las Vegas there are only three stops.”

Since he has to supply his own water and food, planning is essential. He figures he will burn 300 calories an hour, so he will have to carry nutrition on his bike, too. “I plan to stop four to five times for 10 minutes each time.” Part of that time he will be mixing nutritional drinks.

Funk’s ride will be live-streamed and an RV will follow him. Inside will be his wife Kristi, who will handle social media, and the couple’s triplets, six-year-old boys.

“I wanted to do a fundraiser with a goal of 99 percent of the money donated going to the foundation,” Funk said. To date almost everything has been donated, including the bike.

Funk is a self-coached athlete who began entering Ironman competitions in 2011 and by 2013 was ranked fifth in the nation in his age group.

For the Vegas trip, he has been training the past eight months. He has gone on several 200-mile bike trips, including a race in Joshua Tree, which he won in nine hours and 46 minutes. “It was an assisted course and you had people handing you water,” Funk said. “But it’s difficult to train for a 24-hour event—you can never practice it beforehand.”

When he trains for an Ironman, he will do different events on different days. Running is usually one to two hours. “I love running the trails in the local mountains,” said the native of Germany. “I’ll ride three to five hours on the bike or do a 2.4-mile swim.”

When he’s tapering, he’ll either do a reduced amount of time at the same intensity or the same amount of time at a reduced intensity.

He generally works out six days a week and takes a seventh off. “When my body tells me to rest, I do,” he said. “Rest is extremely important.”

18-funk ocean runFunk didn’t start off as an elite athlete. At 19, he was the heir to Germany’s largest independent insurance brokerage firm with 1,000 employees and over 30 offices in seven countries. As the oldest son, he was expected to someday run the company.

“I knew I wouldn’t be happy,” Funk said. “I’m a risk-taker. I like to explore new things.”

Saying goodbye to family money and college, he shipped his Harley to Chicago and proceeded to take Route 66 to the Santa Monica Pier.

“I fell in love with America,” Funk said. By the age of 24, he had started and sold three companies: helpme.org, Microdime and DailyFone.

He realized that being an entrepreneur was something that came naturally to him and he started yet another company in 2000, Funk Ventures, a venture capital firm. This one was different.

“This was a company that would not solely put money [with companies] to make more money, but rather, put money that would improve someone’s life or save someone’s life: the investment would make the world a better place.”

Some of these companies have included Alter-G, Prolacta Bioscience, Game Ready, Cyber-Rain, Used Cardboard Boxes, Organic To Go and Virgin Charter.

In 2005, through Funk Ventures, he met his wife, a breast cancer surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. (Kristi grew up in the Palisades on Toyopa, the daughter of Chet and MaryAnn Pado).

“I got an interesting look at the world of breast cancer,” Funk said. “Even with all the technology, care was substandard in my view. I thought there was a way to build a breast center to do things right.”

The Funks married in 2007 and worked to open the Pink Lotus Foundation in 2008. That same year, they learned that Kristi was pregnant with triplets. Then the economic crisis hit.

Although the Center did open in 2009, the couple found themselves struggling to make ends meet.

“It was pretty awful. Many of the companies in the fund were not going public during this time,” Funk said. “We took out loans and even had to sell a car to make rent.” But then, “As the financial crisis subsided we became successful.”

Now his efforts are focused on his upcoming ride to raise funds for women who cannot pay for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer on their own.

To donate or follow Funk’s ride, visit: vegasin24.com.

 

Andy Funk trains six days a week for Ironman competitions. Photo: Tomo Muscionico

 

Andy Funk will attempt to ride 365 miles to Las Vegas in 24 hours Photo: Tomo Muscionico

 

Andy Funk with his wife, Dr. Kristi Funk, and their triplets.

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