Saturday, April 13

El Camino del Cid, in 14 stages | The preparations: Camino del Cid by bicycle: exiles by bike in the footsteps of Cid Campeador


The adventure of two journalists to travel by bike from Burgos to Valencia recently recovered from covid. Two parallel stories of the same path

“I look at the bag, minuscule, and I wonder how I am going to survive with a change of clothes and flip-flops”

I look at her, my bag. Then I look at my list. Then to her again and I start crossing things off the piece of paper. My saint, as Elvira Lindo says, laughs at me. With swing jaw. «But you thought to take all that?». I don’t know if my look of hate has been penetrating enough. “I would take off the sneakers and put the flip-flops on.” It seems not.

– Yes of course. And if my feet are cold, what?

– Well, socks, like everyone else.

I deepen the look of rancor. Socks. As if she were German, but one and a half meters tall. What a move. I sigh and push the slippers off. I seriously said yes to this trip. It is actually a ship. The director called us while we were convalescing from coronavirus to make us the proposal. You have to do a 14-day bike route. And tell it for the newspaper, of course, that it is not a paid vacation. We chose to do the Camino del Cid Campeador from Vivar, after his exile, to Valencia, of which he became king. That means passing through the provinces of Burgos, Soria, Guadalajara, Teruel, Castellón and, finally, Valencia.

Judging by everything that’s scattered around the room, I said yes. I feel a whiplash in my stomach. It’s the bug’s fault, I think… When you have a fever and are delirious, it’s better not to pick up the phone from anyone, not even your boss. But I did it. And I ended up telling him that of course, man, that seemed like a great idea.

And I swear I really meant it. Until I realized the matter. Yes, it is an interesting trip in which we will surely find a lot to tell, but it is that you have to reach the destination each and every day. And what they don’t know is that I haven’t trained properly for months. Besides, I go without assistance! No broom car. Of course, I go with a husband, and the latter is not bad at all. Or so I think. Let’s see if we’re going to end up in a divorce… There are chuckles among our friends when we tell him about it.

Let’s see, to be honest, it’s not the first time that Gonzalo and I have gone on vacation with our bikes. In fact, it is our usual plan: mountains, ‘skinny’, van and a headquarters with a shower. So when the director brought it up I thought, “What could go wrong?” Now I have the answer: everything. That I have believed that I am, I don’t know, a Mikel Landa, a van Vleuten, and then I go with the crossed chain and the crooked helmet. And that I have to carry panniers. Saddlebags! I, who have never done camping in my life…

No, I’m not an urbanite. I am from town. From town, town. Of those of spooning, milking by hand and crowding the grass. But precisely for that reason, give me a chair to see the stars, because the floor is very hard and full of bugs.

Anyway, I keep crossing things off the list and wondering how I’m going to survive the next few days with just a change of clothes and flip-flops with socks. I only have one thing clear: the sunscreen is coming, let’s see if I’m going to end up churruscada like a Munich in Mallorca, but sober.

“How do you prepare in two weeks for a trip that lasts two weeks?”

I have been doing the math for a few days and assuming that the 1,200 kilometers that, through the Camino del Cid, join Vivar and Valencia are out of our reach. Did I say ours? Remind me to delete this later. We have two weeks and starting from the beginning and reaching the end is something non-negotiable. Being realistic, I think that an average of 60 kilometers would allow us to reach our destination every day and have time to comply with the journalistic task: organize the photos, write the notes that we are taking along the route and, above all, fight with rural Wi-Fi…

With these conditions, the starting and arrival points, and the time available and thanks to the help of Alberto Luque, manager of the Camino del Cid Consortium (the public body dedicated to its maintenance and dissemination), we got a ‘track’ (a route that we can load in the GPS that we carry on the bike) that meets our requirements and also combines asphalt and cross-country segments.

The solution was to divide the road into two halves and carry out a transfer, a ‘by-pass’, between Sigüenza, where we will arrive on the seventh day, and Molina de Aragón, from where we will start on the eighth. They will be something more than 800 kilometers. Enough, I think.

We are going to travel in the first half of June in an attempt -failed, you will see- to avoid the heat. It is, in theory, the best time, and it is advisable to avoid the rigors of summer, very hot throughout the entire route.

As we are lucky enough to start the trip with the accommodation reserved before leaving, we can afford to carry very few packages. We do not need to carry camping equipment. And on this route lightness is important because it is far from being a flat route. Although it starts in Burgos, at 800 meters, and ends in Valencia, at sea level, that only means that one of the last stages is clearly favorable. In our case we have two weeks, so we want to take the opportunity to see as much of the road as possible. On the other hand, as it happens through many towns in which the hotel infrastructure is minimal or non-existent, it is better to ensure the shot in that sense.

What bikes? The ones we have, so decision made. Anyone who knows me knows that if necessary, I would buy another one, but I don’t have any more bikes in the living room. So I take my ‘gravel’, which I bought to train on the nearby slopes when I don’t have time for a longer outing; Julia, for her part, will use her veteran mountain bike, which was collecting dust in the garage.

It is not that we are completely inexperienced cyclists, it is true. Julia is fitter than she likes to admit and I, not so long ago, completed more than 8,000 kilometers a year. But we don’t have any experience in bike trips. I will deny that I had always been excited about it, but I didn’t know how to combine my sporting self-demand with Julia’s “more touristy” rhythm. But that call from the director squared everything: if I go “forced” and don’t spend vacations on it, I adapt to the rhythm that is necessary.

Convalescing at home as we are, at least we have the facility to receive the different items that I buy online by courier. We will need a medium-sized bag to attach between the seatpost and the bicycle seat. And an extra bag to carry a notebook, a pen and a camera on the handlebar, always at hand. I think I have a backpack somewhere to carry the tablet and a wireless keyboard to write and store in the cloud the photos and videos that we take. I don’t want a data card going bad and leaving us with nothing; I don’t trust to carry something delicate in another place that is not a backpack, where the packages travel more isolated from the rattle. I will also take care of loading the mechanical parts for the two bicycles and thus free Julia from some weight.


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