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Riding the El Cid route to raise funds for CAAT

Kate Byrne with the statue of El Cid

Kate Byrne hugging El Cid

What a fantastic route, what amazing things we saw and what gruelling hills we climbed! Nine friends set off on 26 May to pedal part of the Camino Del Cid, a route which we planned to take us from Bilbao on the Northern coast of Spain to Valencia in the south, a distance of 587 miles.

Burgos is the starting point of the Camino, and so we dutifully posed with a huge statue of El Cid before pedalling off for our first day. This brought us to St Domingo De Silos, just in time to hear the monks singing perfect Gregorian chant in the cathedral. It was a surreal contrast after spending a sweaty day on the bikes.

I don’t want to bore people with a blow by blow account, so I will just mention some of the most interesting things along the way. If we had not stayed in San Esteban Goz, a fairly dusty town, I would never have known that there are fierce wood chopping competitions being waged all over the region. Nor would I have seen the beautiful rocks overhanging the town.

Nuns and Kate Byrne

Nun but the brave ride the El Cid route

I had no idea that Spain could be so cold and wet, with stupendous thunder and lightning on many days. I certainly did not know that nuns could be such fun when they are on holiday! I went to a convent school and don’t remember much laughter. The ones we met who were in Atienza for a feast day were great.

I knew of Spain’s bloody past of conquering and being conquered and the wars waged for territory over the years. I didn’t expect to see quite so many amazing castles, though! We saw so many, it really brought home how much turmoil there has been through the centuries. Castles looked like rocks and rocks looked like castles. Castles loomed over towns that were built up high, like the lovely town of Albarracin. You must go and visit this town.

If anyone would like to know more about the trip, especially if you are interested in doing El Cid yourself on foot or by bike, please contact me on katebyrne(at)hotmail*com. It is an incredible route, with eagles and vultures, deer and many other things to see.

Many, many thanks to all who sponsored me, it was incredibly generous of you. I hope you enjoyed this traveller’s tale.

Kate Byrne has raised £637 from her sponsored cycle for CAAT. You can still sponsor Kate’s ride.

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