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3 weeks to go - getting worried


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Hi guys,

I've posted on here a couple of times over the last couple of months and will be cycling the Camino in early June.

I haven't even started to cycle yet as I haven't a bike and my life has been all over the place for the past couple of months!
I'm trying to get a bike now to do 10 days of training so that I'll at least be used to being on a bike again before I go.

I am getting worried about the difficulty of the track and my itinerary - I have about 14 days to complete it. Will that be enough?

Also, just looking for advice on a few of the following things:
will I need to bring my own sleeping bag or do albergues supply blankets?
are cycling shorts and gloves necessary?
will flat pedals or cages or whatever make any difference? (I have no idea about bikes, so just wondering!)
what's the best type of bike to get? (I'm renting in Spain from Roncesvalles; I was told that a Suspension Tourer would be best....)

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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:? Your post has had 30 views and nobody wants to answer your questions! I think they are all a bit shell-shocked!

I have about 14 days to complete it. Will that be enough?

20 days would've been better but its not impossible. Here is a 12 day stage plan published by a travel company:

1) Roncesvalles to Puente la Reina 77 km (48 miles).

2) Puente la Reina to Laguardia 102 km (63 miles).

3) Laguardia to Santo Domingo 47 km (29 miles).

4) Santo Domingo to Burgos 89 km (55 miles).

5) Burgos to Carrión de los Condes 99 km (62 miles).

6) Carrión de los Condes to León 109 km (68 miles).

7) León to Astorga 63 km (39 miles).

8) Astorga to Cacabelos 76 km (47 miles).

9) Cacabelos to O'Cebreiro 43 km (27 miles).

10) O'Cebreiro to Portomarín 69 km (43 miles).

11) Portomarín to Touro 79 km (49 miles).

12) Arrive in Santiago de Compostela 43 km (27 miles).

will I need to bring my own sleeping bag or do albergues supply blankets?
Take a sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner. For obvious reasons, the albergues don't like sweaty pilgrims to lie on their beds without one or the other. Many albergues have blankets but, with it being a Holy Year, and with the crowds on the camino, cyclists are at the end of the pecking order and you might not always get a bed in an albergue. You may have to sleep on a mat or mattress on the floor.

are cycling shorts and gloves necessary?
Cyling shorts usually have padding in them or gel seats. If you have a well padded behind, you might not need the extra padding! The paths are often rocky, stony, gravel pits so you might be pleased to have the added padding.
Gloves: If it rains and your hands are freezing cold and wet, you might not be able to hang onto the handlebars. Take a pair of gloves - or two.

will flat pedals or cages or whatever make any difference? (I have no idea about bikes, so just wondering!)
Not sure about that one, but I would say flat pedals would be best.

what's the best type of bike to get? (I'm renting in Spain from Roncesvalles; I was told that a Suspension Tourer would be best....)
Then go with the one that has been recommended.
Good luck!
Good on you Sil!

kweeveen - I think this is a challenge. Many of the cyclists who arrive in Santiago having traveled 12 days or so are experienced cyclists. I think getting as much time on a cycle before you leave is a must or you just increase the odds of having problems. To give yourself more time why not think about starting further along the Camino Frances?

Also if you are going right at the beginning of June I'd choose a light sleeping bag. Cyclists often have to wait until walking pilgrims are accommodated and so the blankets may be gone!

Good luck

Our schedule was.

1) Roncesvalles to Pamplona 39 km (24 miles).

2) Pamplona to Los Arcos 71 km (44 miles).

3) Los Arcos to Santo Domingo 78 km (49 miles).

4) Santo Domingo to Tarajados 84 km (53 miles).

5) Tarajados to Carrión de los Condes 75 km (47 miles).

6) Carrión de los Condes to León 97 km (61 miles).

7) León to Rabanal 70 km (44 miles).

8) Rabanal to Villafranca 56 km (35 miles).

9) Villafranca to Sarrria 72 km (45 miles).

10) Sarria to Melide 61 km (38 miles).

11) Melide to Santiago de Compostela 53 km (33 miles).

Cycled in 1998 - myself (age 45 then and not very fit) and son (age 15 then).
We rode on a basic £199.00 mountain bike on this trip (see Palas de Rei onward) for me and a Marin Muirwood for my son.

Roncesvalles – reassemble bikes, get first stamp on credencial at the monastery and set off following the yellow arrows to Santiago. Mostly but not all downhill ride through pretty wooded countryside apart from the ‘cement’ works to Trinidad de Arre where we stayed in the small refugio by the bridge.

Tinidad de Arre to Los Arcos – a ride through the deserted centre of Pamplona then via the steep walkers’ route to Alto del Perdon the last few kilometres being a push. On the road from there downhill to Puente la Reina taking pictures of the bridge on the way. Via Estella and wine fountain at Irache where we take a sip, the quality does not encourage much more, to Los Arcos where we stayed at a small private refugio close to the main one. Started to find bar/restaurants with reasonably priced pilgrim’s evening meals which we had from here to Santiago. Rolling countryside for much of the day after the steep climb first thing and the route continues up and down over small hills until Burgos.

Los Arcos to Santo Domingo de la Calzada – through Logrono the capital of La Rioja a pleasant city with historic old town. Like many cyclists we get lost going out of Logrono and find ourselves on the high speed motorway, be warned and turn back if you do the same. Through Najera with its red background to Santo Domingo a historic stop on the route with famous hens in the cathedral. Stay in Parador opposite cathedral in old pilgrim hospital, good rooms; get mixed up in a wedding held that afternoon in the cathedral.

Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Tarajados – another early start and breakfast at Belorado a town specializing in the sale of leather goods. Leave the highway at Tosantos to take minor roads to the outskirts of Burgos. Through the busy city stopping to see the cathedral to the refugio, it is very busy and not appealing so we carry on on the walkers’ path through fields to Tarajados. The refugio here is small and we have just past some Brazilian girls walking who were on their last legs so we find a room above the bar in town. At dinner we meet an American man and woman (not a couple) who had heard about the camino on the web, in 1998 to someone from ye olde UK this was a surprise.

Tarajados to Carrion de los Condes – The first of three days on the Meseta, there was a little of it yesterday but the flat wide open spaces make a welcome change from the hills. We took the walkers’ route practically all the way from here to Galicia. The occasional villages, the monastery of St Anton and the canal break the monotony and although in retrospect it was one of my favourite parts of the camino I am glad to be cycling not walking. We arrive at Carrion de los Condes hot and sweaty and are lucky to get a room in the refugio run by the nuns of Sta Clara. It is small, well kept and quiet. Carrion de los Condes is a town I liked very much despite few obvious virtues.

Carrion de los Condes to Leon – The flattest, dullest part of the camino. We stopped at El Burgo de Ranero for a siesta but it was so dull that we decided to carry on to Leon in the early evening. Leon has some remarkable monuments and we stayed in one of them the Parador in the old San Marcos pilgrims’ hospital. A magnificent building and who should we meet that evening but a couple from the next village back in England. We had a very good long dinner

Leon to Rabanal del Camino – A late start and a dull ride apart from the Puente de Orbigo to Astorga where there is the Bishop’s Palace by Gaudi a weird building. The country starts to rise slowly from here until Rabanal del Camino. The route is all road from Astorga to Ponferrada so don’t be tempted to take an alternative, you will miss one of the most scenic parts of the camino. We stay in the barn at Refugio Gaucelmo which then was very basic but is now much more comfortable. We have our evening meal in the bar/restaurant close by and loose track of time watching a World Cup football match. We miss the curfew but so have many others so we don’t get too much of a telling off.

Rabanal del Camino to Villafranca del Bierzo – The route starts to get steeper after Rabanal and there are one or two short but very steep stretches. We leave some stones at the Cruz de Ferro, itself a little disappointing as some of the stones must have been carried by lorry or Goliath. We stop at Tomas’s refugio for a drink and after another climb start the long decent to Ponferrada. At this time of year June/July we found flies a nuisance here and on the way up to O Cebreiro (a few years later July/August there were none). The road descends with numerous hairpins and one memorably steep section through El Acebo where there is a monument to a biker who fell and died – be careful if the road is wet. At the bottom is Molinaseca a pretty little town with a dammed river for swimming in. Be warned, too early in the season the water is freezing. Ponferrada is an ugly industrial town which has never encouraged me to stop. The ride from there to Villafranca del Bierzo is through the vineyards and fruit of the Bierzo valley and one can follow the walkers path most of the way. At Villafranca we looked for the refugio Fenix but could not find it and Stayed at the Parador which is small and pleasant. Villafranca is a lovely town, one of my favourites on the route.

Villafranca del Bierzo to Sarria – A very early start as in ‘98 the new motorway had not been built and the NV1 war the main road to Galicia. We got off the road before there was much traffic onto the old NV1 which we followed close to the walkers route through some ‘stop the world I want to get off’ villages to La Faba and from there we were on the walkers route which was a hard push initially all the way to O Cebreiro. O Cebreiro has a feeling which if it does not catch you while you are there will later. It is an ancient settlement on top of the pass with fascinating architecture and a very special chalice. After a downhill section to Hospital there is another climb on the road to Alto de Poio. From there it is downhill all the way just about to Samos the route we took that year. The monastery at Samos is impressive and has a refugio we did not use. We rode on to Sarria, stopping to cool ourselves in the stream. At Sarria many people start the journey and a cyclist will be lucky to find space in a refugio in the summer. We stayed in a cheap hotel near the station.

Sarria to Melide – Galician weather is not like the rest of Spain. It is similar to Brittany or Cornwall and the people are Celtic I think, they certainly have bagpipes. We rode through the mist that morning to Portomarin. The countryside seemed to be like rural England 40 years ago and the smells bought back memories. The rode from Portomarin is uphill but when the main road forks to Lugo follow the walkers along some beautiful country lanes to Palas de Rei. We stopped there for lunch. After lunch I heard some strange sounds from my front wheel. The bearing was starting to fail. It was a Saturday and when we got to Melide we were told the cycle shop was closed but would open tomorrow as it was market day. We stopped early and found room in the refugio. Our one brush with a walker was here one of a couple who were walking at a very leisurely pace from Sarria to Santiago the minimum required to get their compostela said “Of course we walkers are the real pilgrims” needless to say I was not best pleased and had not found and resentment in any of the 750 or so kilometres we had covered up till then from walkers.

Melide to Santiago de Compostela – The shop was not open on Sunday morning so I cycled on with the noise getting worse and worse, cycling was becoming difficult so I had to push up the hills. The countryside from Palas de Rei to Santiago is a series of small ups and down none go on too far. Suddenly the airport at Santiago blocks the way and you detour around it. You are nearly there now and go via Lavacolla and Monte de Gozo into town. The entrance to town like most Spanish towns is through messy suburbs and road intersections. By now I was walking the flat as well as the uphills, the front wheel had given up. You have to walk the last few hundred metres anyway as the yellow arrows take you down a one way road. We go under an arch and emerge in the Palza Obradoiro in front of the Cathedral. Having left our bikes in the Hostal Suso where we are staying we go back to the Pilgrims Office to collect our Compostela and from there to the Cathedral where like so many millions before us we follow the traditional rituals.
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Thank you William for the info above, ill be cycling from Pamplona to SDC for the first time in September. The most helpful bit is the schedule it what I've been looking for as a rough guide as I have 14 days holidays and I've allowed 10 to cycle with a day off in the middle so I can go explore Leon.

Thank you again sir.

Given that you are obviously not an avid cyclist......and understanding you only have a fortnight......would you consider being a walking pilgrim and start in - say - Astorga?
Just an idea.
William I second Darren's thank you, great info, I will also be cycling and at the same time as Darren! And Darren thank you for digging around and finding this marvellous post
Camino Way markers in Bronze
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk. Discount is taken at check out, only by using this link.

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