Guest Post – Jenny Heesh / 1st pt / Bikes ~

Jenny Heesh, most of you might know, is a regular on this blog.

She is part of the Camino Angels triumvirate, the other two being Britta Huttel and Janet Mostyn.

Let me put this as plainly and as forcefully as I can – Do not go drinking with these women. They are dangerous. Particularly around Sangria. They will have you saying and doing things you will later regret. 

Now, that being out of the way –

Jenny wasn’t able to come with Britta and Janet on the India tour because she’d locked in a biking Camino. Which in some respects I’m sort of thankful for, because with Jenny and those other two altogether, plotting their misadventures, the spiritual tour could have turned into a spiritual tour.

Anyway, her biking trip though was thwarted when she took a fall on a training ride several months beforehand. She injured herself quite severely.

But Jenny is nothing if not determined, courageous, and unstoppable when she sets her mind to something. So she segued her biking trip into something perhaps even more special, as she details below in the first part of her post.

Her post is broken up into three parts, which she has delicately entitled Bikes, Blisters, and Blood Poisoning.  Did I say she’s a cheerful thing too?

By the way, if you’ve got a weak stomach, or you have a propensity to hurl at the sight of really disgusting photographs of physical malformations, then I’d advise you to read these posts with your eyes shut…

(Happy New Year to you all by the way!!)

My first aid journey on the Camino
Jenny Heesh


Ironically, my first aid journey on the Camino last September began with an accident. 

For well over a year I had planned to cycle with my friend Mike on the Camino, from Pamplona to Finisterre.  Mike and I had both invested in new mountain bikes which we planned to bring with us from Australia. 

I loved my new bike, christening it the “Camino Dreambike”.  It had more gear combinations than I would ever use on a dozen caminos, let alone ONE, plus hydraulic disk brakes and a bell that would have been music to the ears of any walking pilgrim! 

The Camino dream bike

Last April, several months into training, a cycling accident ended my camino plans.  A crosswind buffeted the bike so badly that I lost control and fell, my shoulder taking the brunt of the fall.  I broke my collarbone and scapula and in May, when no bone knitting was evident, I had surgery to pin and plate the collarbone. 

The pinned and plated collarbone

The injury, though not major, was nonetheless painful, both physically and emotionally.

An unexpected offer in June turned the way I was dealing with the injury around completely.  My friend David from the UK, knowing that the bike camino could not happen, offered me the opportunity to help him carry out first aid on the Camino. 

I accepted his kind and generous offer straight away and quickly whipped into planning mode for the new and very different camino.

David is a veteran first-aider who has provided first aid, pastoral care and support to pilgrims on the Camino, generally twice a year since 2006 – all on a voluntary basis.  His first aid caminos are funded partly through the profits from his online Camino shop –  He uses his own savings to fund the balance of the cost.

I flew to Spain on 1 September, joining up with Mike in Madrid before we both travelled by train to Pamplona where David was waiting for us.  There were two spare seats in front of us so we commandeered them for Mike’s bike, which received some rather strange looks from the train conductor and other passengers in our carriage! 

Mike with the boxed up bike

On the train we met Roni from Oklahoma, who was to be the first pilgrim we helped.  Roni was a graduate student who was doing her Ph.D. dissertation on the way that technology affects pilgrimages on the camino.  As well as making her own pilgrimage, she planned to conduct interviews all along The Way for her dissertation. 

She had arrived in Madrid from the USA early that morning and wasn’t looking to a three-hour wait for the bus to Roncesvalles, her starting point.  Arriving so late in Roncesvalles meant that the chance of a bunk at the main albergue – Refugio de Peregrinos de Roncesvalles – was not good. 

We introduced Roni to David and as soon as he heard about Roni’s wait for the bus he offered to give her a lift to Roncesvalles in his car.  After dropping our gear off at our hotel we all headed straight to Roncesvalles, with Roni managing to secure her place at the historic albergue. 

David, Jenny, Mike and Roni at Roncesvalles

Meeting Roni, and getting to know her a little, was an absolute delight and it was a wonderful start to my camino. 

While at Roncesvalles David and I began work as a first aid team and I experienced my first taste of the work that would be our focus for the weeks to come.

At the albergue David made an announcement in several languages that we were offering first aid at no charge for anyone who needed help.  There were several pilgrims who did, so we spent around an hour carrying out first aid before we said farewell and “Buen Camino” to Roni.

The next day Mike and David reassembled Mike’s bike in readiness for his departure the following morning. 

Mike and David reassembling the bike

Mike about to leave - cold feet perhaps

David and I waved goodbye to Mike – our shouts of “Buen Camino” bouncing off Mike’s helmet as he cycled away on a sunny Pamplona morning.  I had mixed emotions seeing him leave – disappointment at the thought that I was unable to join him on our planned camino – but at the same time I was very excited and happy to be undertaking a completely different camino – a first aid camino.

Mike pedaling away

Part two coming tomorrow…

12 thoughts on “Guest Post – Jenny Heesh / 1st pt / Bikes ~

  1. Jenny,
    I’m looking forward to part 2. How exciting your 2015 adventure was, and how great you were able to turn the cycling Camino into something different and so worthwhile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Arlene – I was blessed in a major way to have had the wonderful first aid experience with David. It certainly was a very different camino but incredibly rewarding.
      We will be doing the first aid again later this year – how brilliant is it to be able to say THIS YEAR now!
      I hope that all is well with you and that this year will be an exceptional one – full of abundance and blessings.
      Take joy in every step –
      Jenny x


  2. Jenny absolutely fabulous! Like Arlène I can’t wait for part two.
    This is a nice reminder that what you think is going to happen in your life isn’t necessarily the path you need to be taking and to be open to the new opportunities.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna – thank you so much for your wonderful feedback. Part two really gets into the nuts and bolts of blister treatment and prevention … and rest easy, there are no photos which will make you heave … they’re in part three!
      I totally agree with you about sometimes in life we are given reminders about the path we need to be on isn’t actually the path we are stepping on. The opportunity to help David was completely unexpected and it became the most wonderful and rewarding experience.
      My best, best wishes for this bright new year – I hope that it will be a brilliant one for you.
      Jenny x


  3. Jenny l had no idea you were do hurt and actually on the Camino in September. Looking forward to installment 2.

    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ingrid – many thanks for your well wishes for the New Year – I hope that this year will be completely wonderful for you, with much joy.
      I was fortunate that the accident happened here at home in Australia, and not on the Camino – I would have been in much more of a sorry state then. I’m thankful for that blessing.
      I’m disappointed that we missed seeing each other on the Camino in September but I am hopeful that, in the future, if the Fates allow, we will tread some of those ancient and magical paths together. That would be a dream come true for me!
      Jenny x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Bill –
    Thank you so very much for the privilege of contributing the Guest Post, and also for the kindness and generosity of your wonderful introduction.
    My greatest regret from last year, apart from the accident of course, was that I couldn’t join you, Jen and our PGS family in India. At one stage, when I knew that the bike camino was not a possibility, and before David asked me to join him doing the first aid, I did look very seriously at coming to India with you all. I had even googled the best places for us all to enjoy Chai Martinis … as you did say, there was a danger that it could have become a SPIRITUAL tour if I was on board!
    Best, best wishes to you and Jen for a very happy and successful year – may all the work that you have both put in to all that you do be rewarded in the most brilliant of ways.
    Jenny xx


    • Dear Jenny – yes it was a shame you couldn’t make India, but you had more important things to do, as evidenced by your posts! I’m delighted to be able to offer you a platform for your contributions here… and delighted to be able to call you a close and dear friend… Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Bill – thank you for your thoughts about India and the Guest Post.
        I too am delighted to call you and Jen dear and close friends – I am so very thankful for the day I clicked on your thread on the Forum and started following your blog. PGS and everything that has come out of it, has been the most tremendous gift.


    • Cheers Britta! Just quietly, part three will have you saying “hooly dooly” when you see one of the photographs!


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