It was an early January day, cold but not miserable, generally sunny, and without snow on the ground. The North Wind, bored with the decency of the weather, decided to pick a fight with the Sun. The North Wind boasted of great strength. The Sun argued that there was great power in gentleness.
“We shall have a contest,” said the Sun.
Far below, a group of cyclists traveled a winding road. They rode in close formation with each regularly taking a pull at the front. Their switches were precise. Although consisting of several cyclists, they operated as one with each benefiting from the draft provided by the rider ahead. Focused on the rear wheel in front, the cyclists did not move an unnecessary muscle or let an eye wander to observe the countryside which was only a blur viewed peripherally.
“As a test of strength,” said the Sun, “Let us see which of us can get that group of cyclists to break formation and slow to observe that which they are missing.”
“It will be quite simple for me to force them into a chaotic mess,” bragged the Wind. “They may be forced to stop altogether!”
The Wind switched directions to blow directly into the face of the lead cyclist and blew so hard, the birds clung to the trees. The world was filled with dust and leaves. But the harder the wind blew down the road, the tighter the cyclists pulled together. The gaps between the wheels shrunk until only an inch or two separated one bike from the next. The riders tucked in to reduce surface exposure and lessen the resistance. Although the pace dropped slightly, the peloton continued down the road undaunted.
The Wind changed strategies and directions, coming at the cyclists from various angles and stiff side wind gusts. The cyclists countered by reforming their straight line into an echelon angled across the road. Each successive rider took up a position on the left hip of the preceding rider when the Wind came across from the right and moved to the right hip when the Wind came across from the left. Still the peloton was unswerving and hardly delayed as their wheels continued to spin at a high revolution.
“Nice try,” said the Sun. “Only a group of cyclists that has covered thousands of miles together to the point of each knowing the tendencies and abilities of each other as well as they know their own could withstand such an onslaught without concern that one might not hold the line, swerve, wobble, or otherwise cause a massive pileup of bodies and equipment.”
Then, the Sun came out from behind a cloud. Sun warmed the air and the frosty ground. The cyclists relaxed and moved their hands from the drops to the grips on their handlebars.
The sun grew slowly brighter and brighter.
Soon the cyclists felt warm. Content that they had mastered the worst the day could offer, each sat up and began to soft pedal through the last part of the route. No longer needing to maximize a draft, they pulled along side each other and mentioned to one another what a beautiful day it had become and how lovely the countryside looked.
“How did you do that?” said the Wind.
“It was easy,” said the Sun, “I lit the day. Through gentleness I got my way. Gentle persuasion most usually works better than force.”