We talk constantly of our erstwhile companion, secretly discussing ways we can lose him and his annoying whistle. But it is no use. We have arisen early today hoping to beat the wind out of bed, but he is there at the edge of the highway and greets us with a gust that pushes our bikes out from under us.
We press on for 15 kilometers of agony at a walking pace. Finally it is too much. We concur with Maarten, Etienne, and Steve — our new travel companions — that we will wait for nightfall and sneak out through the cover of darkness. The wind will never see us leaving.
We pull over amid a grove of low pines and spend the day lounging and brewing tea like we are on the Mediterranean Coast. Above us the wind howls in anger, searching. Finally it is time, and as dusk settles we quietly push the bikes up the embankment to the road's edge. The wind is nowhere to be found and we pedal off in the silence with watchful eyes.
Two hours later we have gone 45 kilometers, more than tripling our best speeds of the day. The darkness is consuming and the road is a barely visible strip reaching into nothingness. The full moon hides behind clouds, denying us the promise of light, but we press on, fully aware of how remarkable it is to have no wind. Every half hour or so a truck passes, amazed to see us, our motley band of five at the edge of the road in the middle of nowhere.