Friday, September 28, 2007

The Psychology of Bunnies

Shhh, Be Vewy Quiet. I’m hunting Wabbit.

The endless miles of the Twin Lights Century made me think about many things (100 miles alone through suburbia will do that to you). Snack Availability, Roadkill, and Bunnies were very popular topics.
I like a good bunny better than most cyclists – probably because I ride by myself so much, and the century provided me with an opportunity to really categorize what made a bunny good and what made a bunny bad.


A ‘good’ bunny is going the same way via the same route at a slightly faster rate than you would go by yourself.
Their bicycle should be more expensive than yours and have more gear attached to it.
(You should feel good to be keeping up with them, not embarrassed to have your ass kicked by the deli delivery guy.)
They should be wearing bright, easily identifiable clothing.
Fluorescent green, electric blue and shiny psychedelic designs are all good. The more unique the better, so that you can distinguish your bunny from other riders and objects the further away from them you fall.
There are few feelings more satisfying than losing your bunny only to spot them a mile or so later as the road curves in the distance. They need to be wearing something bright for this to be possible. White is not a good choice – there are a lot of white things in the world and as you grow tired, you may begin to mistake these objects for your bunny causing bouts of depression and sadness.
A good bunny rides predictably and lawfully.
It’s no use following someone who randomly speeds up and slows down for no good reason, only to blow through six lane intersections while cursing the honking traffic every time they miss the light – unless you like to do this too, in which case good on you both and I hope you don’t believe in Darwinism.
A good bunny does not acknowledge you until one or both of you has reached your destination.
Even if they are alone too, it’s weird to try to form a little temporary team based on a randomly shared pace. I try to keep far enough back so that my bunny doesn’t even realize that I’m there. On a country road, this can mean keeping back a few hundred meters.


And then there were none. The turn off to the 100 mile route spelled the beginning of a long stretch where I saw very few other cyclists.

I need bunnies when I ride long distances. I’m not interested enough in keeping track of my own pace to stay consistent without other riders for context. I start to daydream. I stop and take pictures. I go into a low gear to climb a hill and then forget to switch out of it.
I don’t normally think very much of it. After all, who cares really? But the Century had a finite time limit, and I have to admit, it did stress me out a little.
I really didn’t feel like missing the ferries to go home and end up sitting on the pier in NJ for hours. With that in mind, I figured that I needed to keep pace with at least the slower consistent riders. Averaging 14 mph with rest-stops would get me back in about 7.5 or 8 hours, just in time for the 4:30 ferry home.
I’m slowly discovering how these things work, and I guess the start will always be a little nervous with faster and slower riders all mixed together trying to shake out into some kind of organization. It’s a little hard on the ego, but I am not a 22 mph over 100 miles rider, and those guys are going to pass me never to be seen again.
I picked up one set of bunnies for a couple of miles, and then another set after the rest stop. I got “wheel sucked” for the first time in my life by a guy who had been dropped by his group at a light.
Boy is that annoying. I mean follow me, fine. But don’t crawl up my ass for 8 miles.
Then, at mile 30, it happened. I picked up these two guys in bright blue matchy matchy jerseys, and comfortably slotted in a couple hundred yards behind them. I followed them for almost 40 miles, until they split up at a rest stop and the one I stuck with took a wrong turn. 40 miles with the same bunnies – how cool is that? I saw one later at the last rest stop before the finish, and I almost broke the no contact rule, but I thought better of it. I mean, what was I going to say, “Hey, I was following you for 40 miles, I just wanted to say ‘Hi’?”
My last bunny was more of a buddy than a bunny. The last 20 miles of hills were every man for himself and I was keeping pace with one other guy until that last hill that I just couldn't make it over without walking. This last hill highlighted a basic difference between my philosophy and his; I hate having to walk my bike up hills, but I'll do it. He refused to dismount on the hill and I passed him while he was recovering. He waved me by and I saluted. I beat him to the finish by 10 minutes.


Adding insult to injury. The sign at the top of the hill that I didn't make it over.

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