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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Coffeeneur 2014-07, Exploding Pumpkin Flashback, Fried Pickles

11/1/2014 #231 23m
Started at the Bastille with K, during a Pitt game at the football stadium but there just weren't many people on the Chateau-Casino trail. Riding around the Carnegie Science Center, we saw a demonstration of blowing up pumpkins. On the last pumpkin they blew up, a major chunk flew up higher than the Science Center roof and it took a while to come back down, and seeing it took me out of the moment and sent me back thirty-five years.

In 1979 I was a rookie Navy air traffic controller, and I had swapped shifts and was working with another crew. Short version: they came sooooo close to landing a Navy C9 Skytrain on top of a departing Air Force C5A Galaxy. From the radar room it seemed like they collided. My airplane was about four miles out, an E2C Hawkeye and I wasn't sure what to do with it.

I figured: after a collision the parts go up in the air and I shouldn't send my plane into that. I turned them out and said: "vectors for airborne debris midair over the field", because you're supposed to tell them the reason.

Happily it was a near-miss rather than a near-hit. There was a Serious Investigation because the Air Force has no sense of humor about that stuff. My E9 came and told me I was the star of the playback sessions (and that wasn't a good thing).

Anyway, while I watched the chunk of pumpkin fly up in the sky and twist around, rotating, then get slow and begin falling -- in that split-second I went back to being a 19-year old E4 thinking, "stuff takes a while to fall down, give it a minute". It's funny how unrelated things like a Science Center demo bring back memories. In my flashback mini-moment I had such a clear vision of the thick, green felt tablecloth in the investigation conference room. You never wanted to be at "the green table".

And then I was back in the moment in 2014, and the kids were cheering the blown-up pumpkin, and a few more pieces fell down to the earth. We rode out the Penn Ave bikelane and saw a celebrity: Randy Gilson of Randyland was walking along and we got to say Hello. First time I saw RandyLand, I kind of assumed it was an adult-merchandise shop. ("randy" n'at)

Ride uphill through Allegheny Cemetery, even though it's Nov.1st and Día de Muertos. Rode Friendship out to East Liberty and stopped at Banker Supply, checking on a light. Got to meet Chas Duboy, nice guy. Looking forward to Chas' opening of Sayle Service.

Stopped at Whole Foods for rest rooms and free samples. Rode over to Penn Ave (in light rain) and to Voluto Coffee for Coffeeneur 7. Voluto Coffee is an excellent shop; not a smiley-face chain but rather a pleasant, fairly filled space with people drinking coffee and doing their work. We had a cappuccino and a pour-over and a scone and it was great. This completes our seven rides for the 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge.

Rode to Oakland, down Junction Hollow, and over the Hot Metal Bridge. Went to OTB for fried pickles, a new experience and they were very good.

Back on the bikes in the dusk. The trails were devoid of other cyclists, it bordered on a post-apocalytic ride sort of like the Abandoned Turnpike Trail. Don't understand where the cyclists were on a Saturday evening. 23 miles.

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