When only one omelet per person was served, we called over our Persian host to double the rations. We clearly negiotated that there would be enougb breakfast for our hungry cyclers' stomachs, but we knew this subject would return at checkout.
The steady tailwind lifted us up the hill and off we were, direction Azerbaidzjan. Today's destination was Goris, a small city near the border only 35 kilometers away, of which almost 20 kilometer downhill. A short day, but no one of us could have predicted what happened. What should have been an easy day, was in fact one of the most frightening and exciting cycling days so far.
As usual, we dressed a little warmer at the top, not paying too much attention to the now fierce tailwind. Then we started. No pedalling, we just surfed in the wind. 40 kilometers per hour. 50 kilometers per hour. 60. 70. 80. Our heart skipped a few beats. 85. And the wind grew fiercer. 90. 91. Can we do this? Can a bike really go this fast? 92. 93. One bad move and I'm on the ground. 94. Okay this is insane, this is not in my comfort zone anymore. Just stay straight and avoid potholes.
Stef actually reached a top speed of 94,9 km/h the rest surfed in the wind behind him, all above the 90 km/h. This was ridiculous. And dangerous. Completely doped by the endorphines, we stopped for a moment to let the adrenaline flow in an attempt to relax.
When the road took a turn, the wind started handing out heavy jabs to our sides, forcing us onto the gravel. The first one to take a punch was Anton who had scouted out ahead. Luckily he signaled us to slow down, warning us for the ambush. Stef and Oli went through fine, but Yuri took a heavy blow and became derailed some meters off the road. Even when trying to guide his bicycle back towards the pavement the wind had the upper hand. The only way to win this fight was to grab the frame with two hands and use your own body weight to struggle the semi airlifted two-wheeler back on solid ground. Belgian natives have recently started giving a name to the wind once they start to feel a breeze, so with much national pride we called this one Filipke. There's no arguing about that one, we all know the name of the wind.*
We laughed at each other trying to make our way back on the asphalt, and continued the steep downhill. Suddenly there seemed to be a huge canyon in front of us but as we got closer, the city of Goris appeared deep in the valley of this beautiful bassin. A truly breathtaking view.
Filipke's force was strong, and powered us all the way to the city center where we were welcomed by the hospitable inhabitants. The sweeping, powerful winds, seemed to drive everyone crazy, making them way too happy to welcome us. After impressing a local sandwich shop with our food consuming skills, we headed for Eden hostel. The owner was quite suprised to see travellers this time of year, in this kind of weather and to top it off, using this kind of transportation method.
Since we were the first visitors this year, the hostel was not quite up and running yet. It was so cold inside you could barely see each other's faces from the clouds everyone was puffing out. We negotiated a serious discount because heat, running water and wi-fi were missing. We had a whole house to ourselves, the owner was very friendly and the breakfast divine. In the summer this place even allows brewing your own wodka with their distilled from fruits grown in the garden of Eden, free of charge! Seems like we chose the wrong season.
* The Name of the Wind is the title of a novel by Patrick Rothfuss. A must read indeed!