Thursday, December 24, 2009

Audux-Style Wolves and Out-and-Back Ants

Background for newbies or the otherwise uninitiated about "Audux-style" randonneuring from the Randonneurs USA (RUSA) website:

Audax (oh docks) - A style of group bicycle touring found mostly in France, but also in Holland and Belgium to lesser degrees. A steady pace is set by a road captain, who is in charge of a group of fellow club members. In modern times the pace is usually about 22 km/h between stops; the itinerary and resting places are planned in advance. Audax groups often ride about 16-20 hours per day until they reach their pre-arranged sleeping point. In the case of Paris-Brest-Paris, each group's objective is to finish inside the 90-hour limit with all its riders together. ("All for one, one for all" is their motto.)

In the U.S., we follow a more individualized style where one goes at one's own pace or joins up with others, whatever the pleasure. The Audux-style or in-line version has always intrigued me due to its collective nature, but I also very much enjoy the individual freedom.

Now to the wolves: this past summer, DartreDame (Pramila, my wife) and I took a two-day cyclotour of the the mountains, from Joseph, Oregon to Halfway, Oregon and back. I posted about that here.

I mentioned then that some Elk hunters who gave us water told me about how in bugling in Elk they inadvertently bugled in a wolf pack...twice. I'd heard that wolves had moved into the area, but some were skeptical. This video proves it.

I especially enjoy how the last wolf--the mama?--swishes her tail as she turns back after checking out whoever was checking them out. Classic canine disdain, but here not in a domesticated dog but in a wild wolf.

Hail the wildness!!! Welcome back, wolves.

Did you notice their Audux-style manner of randonneuring up the mountain? Methinks wolves have a captain and a bunch of followers, and so it appears from the video!

And how about those out-and-back ants? Did you catch the story on NPR about the "pedometer" ants that count their steps? Apparently, some scientists tested the theory that the desert ants count their way out to their food source from their nest and repeat the count to get home.

The scientists experimented by cutting short the legs of some ants and Super Glueing pig bristles onto the legs of others to make their legs longer. This proved it is the steps they count, not the distance they measure. To fully grasp the ingenuity and the hilarity of this you have got to watch the video I reference below.

Just like us randonneurs on an out-and-back ride who use our odometers, these ants count their way home. Crazy ants. Check out the NPR website that has an animated video as well as actual photos of ants with pig bristles glued to their legs. The animated video is not to be missed!

Which is the weirdest? Wolves who walk in line, ants who count steps, or randonneurs who don't know when to stop?

Keep it wild at heart,