Every Christmas Segovia plays host to one of the fiestas that makes Spain unique. The "Carrera del pavo" or simply translated "The Turkey race".
Based on the simple concept of a bicycle race participants have to cross the villages main square from a starting position on the hill on one side and travel as far as possible up the hill on the other side of the plaza. One small difference to the bicycles makes this somewhat simple task a little more interesting: No pedals!
The Turkey Race
Early morning on the 25th of December each year inhabitants of the city of Segovia brave what are almost always sub zero temperatures to cheer on an eclectic collection of riders take their specially modified bicycles to the city center and do battle for the "honor" of being the years winner of
the Carrera del pavo. Of course the bars suurounding the main square are open from daybreak to ensure spectators are funished with a wide variety of hot drinks to keep the chill away and alcoholic beverages to ensure riders are encouraged vocally!
For many years the standard "equipment" necessary to compete in the carrera del pavo was no more than a standard bicycle with either the chain or pedals removed. Considering that the only clear rule is that the distance travelled is determined by when the ground is touched by the rider most opted for fixing the pedals and removing the bicycle chain. In this way a side to side motion from the body could gain extra momentum
and valuable meters in the final distance travelled.
Following fixing the pedals bikes were specially adapted to have extra wide handle bars. The idea being that by wiggling rapidly the handle bars to and fro this would impart motion to the front wheel agin gaining additional meters in the distance travelled.
The final "modification" to the bicycles came about at the end of the 1980's when for the first time a participant turned up with an offset rear wheel. The curiosity and slight ridicule from the spectators and other riders quickly changed to amazement as this unique wheel allignment saw a record distance covered. Suffice to say that this has now become the "norm" for serious competitors.
Watching Segovias turkey race
For visitors to Spain wishing to experienece Segovias Turkey race it is both easy to attend (see travelling to Segovia) and free to watch from any point along the route. Although there are some riders that take the race seriously there is a fiesta atmosphere as many choose to compete in fancy dress or mounted on unique bicycles. The visitor to Segovia need not worry about only having a mornings worth of activities as once the race finishes the bars remain open for the "aperitivo", lunch time tapas, continuing the fiesta well into the night in some quaters. For those wishing something more cultural the easy walking nature of Segovia allows you to explore the Aquaduct, historic city, cathedral and castle at your leisure!
The turkey race not lively enough? Explore some other fiestas in Spain ...>