His name is Hidalgo.
I traveled with him from the heart of Texas to the Pyrenees mountain village of Roncesvalles for a 500-mile trip through northern Spain to the holy city of Santiago de Compostela in the emerald region of Galicia.
Along the way, I trekked to the core of my being.
Hidalgo accompanied me on every crank of the pedal and every step. He carried me across mountain ranges, on gravel, dirt, concrete, cobblestone, farm animal shit, mud, dust, and up a stream of crystal-clear water.
He was with me in blazing hot sun, in mountain chill, through fog, torrential rain, fierce headwinds.
We crossed vineyards, wound through medieval towns, plowed a field of handlebar-high grass, ducked around pedestrians in city plazas, parted a sea of tourists, rode around a Templar castle (in its dry moat), and cut through a college campus.
Hidalgo has leaned against a UNESCO world heritage site cathedral, stayed in a monastery, waited for me outside a bar full of elder men slamming dominos on a table – while outside, a donkey and a German Shepherd herded a flock of sheep up the main street of a village that seemed otherwise devoid of people.
I rode him along a ridge amidst giant spinning blades of a wind turbine before we surfed down the side of that ridge. We drew comments in a town while riding caked in mud that had splattered all the way to the top of my helmet.
Hidalgo never broke down during this trip. Never got a flat, even. Until we got back home.
It’s been ten years since my pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. And I still ride Hidalgo, remembering our adventure and the experience of being vibrantly alive.
This picture is from last weekend.
There’s more to know about Hidalgo. His origins, what he was made for, his branding, features, our connection, his namesake. More to write about, which I’m doing in Camino Calling, the story of my pilgrimage.