Camino del Cid (Way of El Cid) Cycling Route through the Valencian Community

If you are a lover of routes steeped in history, the Camino del Cid by bike is one of those milestones you should tick off your bucket list. 

This route is retracing the footsteps and deeds of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, better known as Cid Campeador (The Valient or Master of the Battlefield), in his memorable conquests highlighted in El Cantar de Mío Cid (Poem of the Cid), through its paths and historical heritage.

Deeds that take us through a large part of the Valencian Community, from Orihuela to Valencia, one of the key points of the great conquests of El Cid over the Almoravids. In this post we explain how to enjoy the Camino del Cid by bike through the Valencian Community.


History: The Defense of the South

The section of the Camino del Cid that crosses the Valencian Community is nicknamed "La Defensa del Sur". This name is due to the defense of the Almoravid danger coming from the south, whose headquarters were located in Murcia, and which led El Cid to conquer strategically, and not without some difficulty, a large part of the Valencian territory.

In this sense, there are contradictions between what is narrated in El Cantar de Mío Cid and what history actually dictates. El Cantar narrates an epic entry into Valencia after a long siege, with a Cid capable of defeating 50,000 men brought by the Almoravid king Yussuf to recover Valencia, or the very large troop of King Búcar, also incapable of recovering Almoravid ground. 

However, the historical record is quite nuanced. Starting with the lack of support in many conquered nuclei, which, although initially yielded to power due to the persistence of El Cid, did so under a halo of permanent instability and with constant Almoravid offensives. To make matters worse, it is in this episode that El Cid is banished for the second time by King Alfonso VI, apparently in part following a meeting that did not take place due to disagreements with the chosen place.

The Route

The cycling route of this Camino del Cid runs through the provinces of Alicante and Valencia, cycling about 249 km from Orihuela to Valencia. Knowing that this is a route of great historical value, it is advisable to take it at a leisurely pace, without haste and without effort to rack up too many kilometers in one day. In addition, you can complete this route on a road bike or MTB, with sections that vary slightly according to the option you choose.


Recommended itinerary

Whether you choose MTB or Gravel or road bike, the ideal is to follow the itinerary divided into 4 stages from Valencia to Orihuela.

Valencia - Xàtiva

In this first stage we travel 70.5 of the total 249 km of the Valencian Camino del Cid, with a generally flat profile, except for the last section up to Xátiva. Here, we will cross the orchards of southern Valencia, leaving the capital along the Camino Real that reaches Silla. If you choose road cycling, we must be attentive to the heavy traffic leaving Valencia, which decreases as we get further away. In both modalities we can enjoy one of the unique landscapes in the Valencian Community, the Albufera de Valencia, one of the many Natural Parks in the region that emerges as one of the favorite spots for bird lovers. During this route we will cross the towns of Sedaví, Silla, Almussafes (one of the key towns during the Cid's fight against the Almoravids), Benifaió, Algemesí, La Pobla Llarga, Manuel and finally the town of Xàtiva, with its castle as emblem of the main Almoravid stronghold after the Cid's conquest of Valencia.

Xàtiva - Banyeres de Mariola 

Stage a little harder than the day before, where we will accumulate more than 1,100 m of slope to reach Banyeres de Mariola. On our route we will cycle through the Val de Abadia, the natural pools of Pou Clar or the spectacular Sierra de Mariola. In the case of MTB, it is worth mentioning the link between Ontinyent and Bocairent through the Barranc dels Tarongers, probably the most technical section of the whole route.

If we opt for road biking, we must take into account the abundant road traffic between Xàtiva and Bellús, and between Ontinyent and Bocairent, a point that also coincides with a section of the ascent. It is a steep climb and with which you have to be careful in case of carrying panniers, but at the same time it awakens a great attraction to approach the paths of the Sierra de Mariola, one of the most popular Natural Parks for cyclists and hikers.

Our final stage will take us to Banyeres de Mariola, Alicante highest municipality in the province. It owns a rich historical heritage, with an obligatory visit to its castle of Arab origin, Torre de la Font Bona, a 16th century fortification, or the Ermita de San Jorge (hermitage). By the way, there is also the peculiar Museo Valenciano del Papel (Valencian Paper Museum), housed in an early 20th century chalet. 

Banyeres de Mariola - Novelda

The third stage will take us through medieval fortresses with the Vinalopó River as one of the main protagonists along the way. The first section will allow us to continue enjoying some of the paths of the Sierra de Mariola until reaching Villena along the Vía Verde de la Xixarra (Greenway), which stands out for the diversity of bridges rebuilt over the original ones, connecting the abandoned railway line between Villena de Alcoy and Yecla.

In total about 66 km during which we will gradually descend along roads with little traffic, both for road and MTB. As we approach Novelda we will observe the abundance of vineyards, almond and orange trees adding a splash of color to our route.

Novelda - Orihuela

We end our adventure of conquests through the Valencian Community with this stage that leads us to Orihuela, on an eminently flat route of about 63 km. We cross the Sierra del Tabayá in a gradual descent to Bajo Vinalopó. The orange and almond trees of the previous day will give way to characteristic palm groves, among which Elche stands out overwhelmingly, a municipality that is impossible to be thought of without the existence of these trees. We will also cross the towns of Monforte del Cid, Albatera, Granja de Rocamora, Cox, Callosa de Segura and Redován, savoring the last moments of the Camino del Cid by bicycle through Valencian land.