What does Guzmán el Bueno have to do with cycling?

Alonso Pérez Guzmán el Bueno (‘Guzmán the Good’) was by many accounts an interesting and unshakeable character. In 1294 he was helping the King of Castille defend the city of Tarifa from various invaders (including the King’s perfidious brother, Juan) who had it under siege. The invaders weren’t doing well but did manage to capture Guzmán’s young son, who they threatened to murder if he didn’t surrender. Guzmán not only was unwilling to give in, declaring:

I did not beget a son to be made use of against my country, but that he should serve her against her foes. Should Don Juan put him to death, he will but confer honour on me, true life on my son, and on himself eternal shame in this world and everlasting wrath after death

but in addition, to underline the point, threw his own dagger down by the castle walls for the attackers to do the deed with. (Which they did, but lost the battle.)

Wow. Colombia Pictures eat your heart out. The 13th century propaganda machine may have helped to commingle fact and legend here, but it’s a good story.

“But cyclefucius,” I hear you say, “this is all very historical and cautionary, but what does it have to do with cycling?”

Well, having missed the boat for the 101km of Ronda, the next best (and available) thing seemed to be the 85km of the Sierra Morena, which like many events in Spain is linked to/organized by the military – in this case the Brigada de Infantería Mecanizada (‘Tank Brigade’) “Guzmán el Bueno” nº X based in Córdoba Spain where this event is held. And I am in.

Three weeks earlier than Ronda but 16km shorter. But having Guzmán as patron, getting off the bike would clearly not be an option…

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