when I was growing up, my dad liked to drive fast. however, getting pulled over by the police and being given a ticket was not something he liked. this is when I learned about rabbits.
when we'd be driving on the freeway, and another car would zip past us, my dad would say, ah, a rabbit, change lanes and follow that car at a respectful distance, increasing his speed while enlarging the grin on his face.
rabbit, I wondered, what was that all about?
I don't think I ever asked him.
for a while it just rested in my memory banks. then for a long time I twisted it up with the information that rabbits used to be used to confirm a pregnancy. (way back when a woman's urine was injected into a rabbit and then resulting changes in the rabbit's ovaries would tell whether or not a woman was pregnant: the rabbit had to be killed to check the result.) I made it up into the story that the fast car passing us became the rabbit, and he would then be the one to die (get a speeding ticket), saving my dad that heartache.
then there's the hunting analogy: the rabbit runs out in front---they're fast---but they eventually get caught.
or maybe it's simply that rabbits are fast.
I still don't know why my dad called those fast drivers rabbits, but it's certainly stuck with me all these years, and now I apply it to my cycling life.
there are frequently rabbits out there on the road ahead of me. but I don't usually catch them. however, they provide great incentive, especially when they're just enough out of my reach but not too far as to disappear completely from sight.
once another cyclist passed me on a climb, then I passed him as he paused at the top. then he passed me again on a long flat. he referred to the "tortoise and the hare" as he passed me the second time, pulling in front of me and stretching the gap between us to 20 feet or so. at which point he slowed, waiting for me to catch up, then apologized for his possibly-interpreted-as-rude comment. I laughed and told him I can accept reality: I am not a rabbit.
but I had a rabbit this morning, and he made me work. at the mouth of the canyon I saw a cyclist just rounding a bend ahead of me, far enough away that I could only make out a shape with a red light on the back. as there aren't many cyclists out in the early dark, I was intrigued. I kept thinking he would eventually pull so far ahead that I'd lose sight, but as the curves of the road straightened I would almost always see him up there, teasing me with a quick glimpse before he began rounding the next curve. yes, for the last two miles he pulled enough ahead that I could no longer see him.
until I was 25 yards from the top, and he was heading down on the other side of the road.
bill, I said to him, as he crossed to my side to say good morning.
yep, my rabbit was a known entity, and he finished my climb with me then pulled me back down to the awakening city.
we parted at the canyon mouth, and I continued on my homeward path, letting the wind push around me. it was coming down from the east, and as I approached a particular cross street I saw a flurry of little beings dancing like mad as they hopped across the road. as I neared they became more distinct and I saw that thousands of tiny pink petals were being whipped from their beautiful, blossoming pink tree homes and send to the ground, across the street, to find new homes within blades of grass, or upon piles of their own pink forerunning rabbits in the gutters.
snow, I thought to myself, pink snow.
pink snow and rabbits. what a delightful start to a day.