Are you an avid cyclist looking for a new challenge? Or are you an explorer who wants to add Spain to your repertoire of travel destinations? Either way, the Ruta del Cid is calling your name.
Considered one of the most challenging and rewarding routes in Spain, this cycling tour is sure to test your limits. But don’t let that scare you away—the rewards are well worth it!
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What is the Ruta del Cid?
The Ruta del Cid is an epic route that traverses the provinces of Burgos and Alicante, and through Soria, Guadalajara, Zaragoza, Teruel, Castellón and finally to Valencia.The route is named after El Cid, a famous Spanish warrior from the 11th century.
The Cid was known for his skill as a horseman and his ability to lead troops into battle. The Ruta del Cid covers many of the locations where El Cid and his troops fought during their conquest of the Iberian Peninsula.
Who is it for?
This cycling tour is for anyone who is comfortable cycling for longer distances. The route is long, so you’ll need to be in good shape in order to complete it successfully.
If you’re looking for a challenge, this is definitely the tour for you! If you want to explore medieval castles and towns, cycle past Roman aqueducts, and experience Spanish culture and cuisine - the Ruta del Cid will give you full immersion!
For those who are new to cycling, this route might be too challenging. Cycling can be a strenuous activity and this route in particular is especially difficult. You’ll be cycling in a very mountainous region of Spain, so you’ll want to be sure you’re prepared for a challenge.
When to go?
The Ruta del Cid can be travelled year-round. It is, however, best to avoid the summer months (July and August). During this time, the region is very hot and humid, which can make cycling in these temperatures challenging.
Additionally, during this time of the year, there is an increased chance of rain in the region. Therefore, you may have to deal with inclement weather when you’re cycling. If you do travel to the region during the summer, you may want to consider cycling during the evening. I recommend May / June / July / September / October.
The Ruta del Cid route consists of multiple legs: Burgos and Alicante, and through Soria, Guadalajara, Zaragoza, Teruel, Castellón and finally to Valencia. You’ll need to plan the route you’ll take by choosing the towns you want to pass through.
You can choose which towns you want to visit and in what order they are visited. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at our Ruta del Cid bike tour guide. The towns are connected by road, so you’ll be able to cycle from one to the next. However, keep in mind that the towns aren’t connected directly. You’ll have to do a bit of extra cycling to get from one town to the next.
Important to know
You’ll need a good amount of time to complete the route - Plan at least 8 days, if you are happy doing daily century rides - but you can extend the trip to the recommended 14 days if you wish.
You’ll be cycling on regular roads, so you’ll need to be prepared for some traffic around larger towns and cities, especially during the weekends.
While there are some official accommodations that are designed for cyclists, you can find a very broad selection of accommodations along the way, to suit your preference and budget.
However I would advise you to book your accommodation in advance because certain stretches of the Way of El Cid pass through sparsely populated areas and in some towns and villages there are no accommodation options or the number of beds is very limited.
There are plenty of bike shops along the route that can help you with repairs. All of these points of interest are included in our experience guides.
Letter of Safe Conduct
Much like the credential used on the Camino de Santiago, the Ruta del Cid has its own credential that features the stamps of the various towns and villages travelers pass through.
The Letter of Safe Conduct is based on the document used during the Middle Ages to ensure that travelers were allowed to travel freely and safely.
These days you can use it as a wonderful souvenir of your travels and to obtain a Ruta del Cid Certificate if you collect four stamps from at least seven of the eight provinces along the way.
You can obtain yours, free of charge at the Tourism office in Burgos or at any of the 98 Tourist Information Offices located along the Way of El Cid.
As a bonus, the Letter of Safe Conduct grants you discounts of around 10% at more than two hundred accommodation options!
Things to bring with you
When cycling, you’ll spend most of your time standing on your pedals. Regular shoes aren’t designed for this kind of activity and can wear out quickly. Cycling shoes are designed to be placed on your pedals for extended periods of time.
Cycling shorts are designed to be low-profile and resistant to movement. They’re typically made of a thin material that won’t get in your way when you’re cycling.
Cycling gloves are designed to protect your hands when cycling. They’re made of a thick material and typically come with padding in the palm to protect your hands against pressure and vibrations.
Rain can come down anytime, so it’s important to be prepared. Make sure to bring a jacket with you that is waterproof and breathable.
Aside from making you look cool on the road, keeping your eyes protected from the wind and high UV conditions you may encounter in Spain is a must! Don't skimp out and get a good pair of polarizing glasses.
Good camera or Smartphone
When you are riding an epic tour like the Ruta Del Cid, it goes without say that you will be passing scenes of outstanding beauty and interest.
Make sure you can capture those sights and moments for posterity! I carry a high quality digital SLR camera with an 18 - 200 mm lens which is great to photograph everything from vast landscapes to detailed close-ups of medieval gargoyles on ancient cathedrals.
But these days I actually mostly use my phone, which takes outstanding photos and stabilized video with 2 taps of the power button - and best of all, it sits on my handlebars all day, ready to snap at a moments notice.
Tips and Tricks for Cycling the Ruta del Cid
This route covers a long distance and varied terrain and weather conditions, from colder to hotter climate as you ride from north to south.
My first suggestion is to bring clothes in layers and keep them at hand during the day for rapid changes - layering up or down as the weather conditions change.
I also recommend a dress shirt and long trousers for the after ride evenings - the Spaniards do like to dress up a little for dinner and tapas!
Bring plenty of water. You’ll be cycling for long hours each day, so you’ll need to stay hydrated. Make sure to bring water bottles with you and carry them with you at all times.
Eat healthy snacks. Cycling for long hours will make you hungry, but there can be long stretches with limited supplies, so make sure to bring healthy snacks with you like nuts or granola bars. This will help keep your energy levels up and will help replace salts too.
Long section of the Ruta Del Cid have limited or no shade, so do wear sunscreen. The sun in Spain is has a high UV index, so make sure to bring sunscreen with you and have it at hand.
Cycling the Ruta del Cid is a truly rewarding experience. You’ll be able to explore the fascinating towns along the route and see the journeys of El Cid and his troops first-hand.
You’ll also be able to take in the vast landscape of Spain along the way. If you’re looking for a challenge and a new way to experience Spain, cycling the Ruta del Cid is the perfect activity for you!