An epic route for an epic poem. The Cantar de mio Cid is medieval Spain’s greatest work of poetry, telling the tale of an 11th century knight (Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, aka El Cid) who fights to regain his honour at court. This cycle route, the Way of El Cid (Camino del Cid), connects the castles, citadels and battles of the poem.
The cultural sightseer will be in heaven. There are eight World Heritage Sites in the 1300km (800mi) of this route, 39 national heritage villages, and some 200 fortresses or castles. Above all, this is an intensely rural route, spending long days twisting through wild, mountainous countryside and little-visited valleys.
With some 14,000m climbing, it is hilly – there’s no getting around that – but would be rideable by the typical bike tourist in three weeks. Watch out for wind direction; the Leveche southerly wind can be a real hindrance at some times of year.
This is the cycling route, which is largely suitable for touring, hybrid, and (with a few easily bypassed exceptions) road bikes. There’s also an intertwined mountain bike route, which largely follows the hiking route, but takes occasional detours to avoid the twistiest paths; and the route organisers have recently added a gravel take on the Camino, mixing the two. All the routes are signposted, so you can pick and choose between them depending how adventurous you’re feeling that day, though we’d still recommend bringing a GPS for reassurance.
The Consortium Camino del Cid has an excellent website at caminodelcid.org with more details about the route.