Thursday, August 16, 2012

Joe vs J-Pow? I Say, “What the Pho!”

Beach Boardwalk in St. Maarten
The people next to us are blowing up a floatie toy for their kids on the beach in St. Maarten.  Donk-da-donk-dee- -donk-da-donk-dee goes the sound of the reggaeton music distortedly booming from the grass thatched roof of the nearby bar.  It’s a Caribbean club mix of a Rihanna song.  I’m drinking water.  Even on vacation, still too early for beer.  As I remember, I finished the short story I was reading in my Outside Magazine Top 25 book.  From under this umbrella, looking over the rim of my Giro cycling sunglasses across the water stretching to Puerto Rico, I see some snorkeling, others bobbing on those wacky noodles, some kids down the beach playing paddle ball.  I eyed the perimeter of buoys surrounding the swimming area.  It was large, maybe 150 meters out to the tip of the peninsula on my right and 300 meters wide to the other side of the little bay.  I wondered.  Yeah.  I think I can swim that.

You Can't Say No to Pho
Lately I’ve found myself in these situations with little conundrums.  I fight with my brain.  I wonder if I can swim 600 meters in the ocean, not having freestyled a distance like that since I was on the Menomonee Falls HS team.  Then again, this a resort beach, not the English Channel.  Just minutes ago at the radio station where I work, Amy Tobin, a local culinary expert, brought in a dish of Pho for me to try.  It was phresh.  Pho is an Asian soup with a wonderful vegetable broth made of basil, cilantro, red peppers, sprouts, a twist of lime and a few other unrecognizable things.  At the bottom of the bowl is filet mignon.  She tells me the hot soup cooks the meat.  Genius!  I’ve never had it before but it looks delicious, like $15 on Chef Ramsey’s restaurant menu delicious.  I start to waffle and she knows it.  She forgets sometimes.  I gently remind her I’ve been eating more or less vegan since November.  “What the Pho!”  She says coining the phrase with a smile.  Ha!  I picked up my spoon and laughed.  Yeah.  What the Pho.

Granted, these moments aren’t daring.  I’m not booking a Himalayan trek.  I’m not skydiving or chancing an X-Games motorcycle gap jump, but I am kicking off my shoes and jumping in the ice cold water of a waterfall pool mid-hike.  Without a towel no less!  I find myself more and more taking advantage of opportunities put before me, mainly for the reason I may not be able to do them again.  It’s like money in the memory bank for me.  I don’t buy that it’s the cliché midlife crisis.  I could give a crap if I had a corvette or a boat.  Aside from my cycling friends, I look 10 years younger than anyone my age.  I got carded buying beer at a Fray concert the other day.  I think this is more of a decision to live in the moment, not be boxed in by rules real or imaginary and not let life pass you by. 

Me and Jpow at Cincy3 2011
This morning, I entered a pro cyclocross race.  It’s not my first, but probably my first since I got on the other side of 40.  What the Pho!  It’s at night and under the lights.  It’s the CX After Dark Series stop on day 2 of the Cincy3 CX Festival.  National Champion Jeremy Powers will likely be on the driving end.  What’s the worst that could happen?  Even though I had to tread water for a few seconds to get my bearing, I completed my little ocean swim in St. Maarten.  I drained my Hydrapak and got back to our car a little later than expected on that hike to the arch.  I ingested three thin slices of beef in the last 9 months, but now I’ve had Pho.  My veganism wasn’t a no-hitter anyway.  I don’t think I’ll have this opportunity again.  I know I’ll have to race my heart out to even have the remotest chance of staying on the lead lap.  It’ll likely be a matter of how many laps I’ll be down at the end of the race.  I’ll be training.  My wife, friends and fans will be screaming.  My JBV coach Chris Mayhew will be there.  I’ll have my trusted teammate Jaden in the pits.  There’ll be lights and music, heckles and hand-ups, cowbells and cheers.  It’ll be fun, likely a highlight of the season.  What the Pho!

Joe Note: J-pow is hosting a Cyclocross Clinic in Cincinnati with JBV Coaching on September 1st.  It'll be a full day with classroom and on the bike instruction.  You should do it, if only to say you had lunch and rode with Jpow.  What the Pho!  Click here for details.


James Billiter said...

If you feel you can't say no to Pho, Pho Lang Thang in Findlay Market has vegan Pho.

Yo Joe, now you know bro.

Joe Biker said...

Oh no! Vegan Pho!