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Advice: Biking vs. Walking?


2018 edition Camino Guides

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#1
I plan to walk the CF this June, but I've been battling a case of plantar fasciitis for several months and while I hope to shake it (tried everything from chiropractors to physical therapy), the planner in me says to prepare to bike the CF if it doesn't get better.
So, my questions are these:
1. Has anyone both biked and walked the Camino Frances?
2. If so, how would you describe your experiences with biking vs. walking?
3. Was it as rewarding as walking?
4. Did you take your own bike or get one there?
Part of me thinks biking the Camino wouldn't be as rich or deep an experience.There is something about putting one foot in front of the other every day for 800 clicks. The slowing down. The hardship. The being with others and being alone. Biking is fast and the landscape and others go by in an instant. Plus, I hate riding past pilgrims who are on foot--something in that bothers me, having to announce my approach all the time.
I will be going solo and part of the reason I want to do the CF is both for the solitude and for the comaradarie--is that as possible on a bike?
I thought if the plantar fasciitis doesn't improve I'd just wait another year. But I've waited 20 years and now the plantar fasciitis is kicking in and if it doesn't improve then a bike is Plan B. I'd take my horse, but don't think he'd like the flight!
Thank you for any advice you veteran members can offer who have done it both on foot and in the saddle!
 

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AdaR

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 Camino Frances on bicycle; Planning August 2017 Portuguese Camino from Porto to SDC on foot.
#2
Joe,
I am probably not qualified to respond to your inquiry, but I am going to anyway. I have ONLY biked the camino, from Pamplona to Santiago. However, I think I would have preferred to walk it. For many reasons, many of which you seem to already be aware of.
To be correct, we did not truly bike the Camino as we spent most time on paved asphalt due to the type of bikes in our small group.
I loved the adventure, and the challenge of the pilgrimage on the bike. And I would not say that hardship is limited to walking. There were a few days that I dreaded getting back in the saddle. And days when I wanted to dump my bike and buy a pair of hiking shoes just to feel the comfort of my feet hitting the ground.
I suspect the camaraderie would be much better walking then biking, but maybe others who biked solo were able to connect with other biker pilgrims. My expectation of connecting with other pilgrims was left wanting. That could also have occurred because I made this Camino with my son and his wife, and we just hung out together for the most part. But I believe it occurs because our bicycle pace was faster than walkers, but slower than other bicyclists, so we rarely saw the same faces along the way. We became our own Camino family to the exclusion of others.
That said, if your choice is bike or wait, I would choose to bike it, as the experience was worthy even with the downsides that came with cycling. I hope you are able to find healing soon.
Buen Camino.
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#3
Joe,
I am probably not qualified to respond to your inquiry, but I am going to anyway. I have ONLY biked the camino, from Pamplona to Santiago. However, I think I would have preferred to walk it. For many reasons, many of which you seem to already be aware of.
To be correct, we did not truly bike the Camino as we spent most time on paved asphalt due to the type of bikes in our small group.
I loved the adventure, and the challenge of the pilgrimage on the bike. And I would not say that hardship is limited to walking. There were a few days that I dreaded getting back in the saddle. And days when I wanted to dump my bike and buy a pair of hiking shoes just to feel the comfort of my feet hitting the ground.
I suspect the camaraderie would be much better walking then biking, but maybe others who biked solo were able to connect with other biker pilgrims. My expectation of connecting with other pilgrims was left wanting. That could also have occurred because I made this Camino with my son and his wife, and we just hung out together for the most part. But I believe it occurs because our bicycle pace was faster than walkers, but slower than other bicyclists, so we rarely saw the same faces along the way. We became our own Camino family to the exclusion of others.
That said, if your choice is bike or wait, I would choose to bike it, as the experience was worthy even with the downsides that came with cycling. I hope you are able to find healing soon.
Buen Camino.
AdaR: You are more than qualified and I greatly appreciate your open and candid assessment and advice--and taking the time to write. I think we are on the same wavelength…very much appreciated!
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#4
Everyone is different.
I'd rather go to the dentist than bike the paved roads near the Frances. AdaR liked the Frances doing just that. No one is right or wrong, we are just different.

I'd much rather ride a mt. bike on the Frances than walk it.
I'd rather walk some of the Stevenson trail, or the mountainous part of the Voie Aurelian. Those trails are sort of 50-50 for me.
I'd hate to drag a bike on any of the treks I've done in Nepal.

You'll need to figure out your own preference.
 
Camino(s) past & future
biked 2013
#5
Everyone is different.
I'd rather go to the dentist than bike the paved roads near the Frances. AdaR liked the Frances doing just that. No one is right or wrong, we are just different.

I'd much rather ride a mt. bike on the Frances than walk it.
I'd rather walk some of the Stevenson trail, or the mountainous part of the Voie Aurelian. Those trails are sort of 50-50 for me.
I'd hate to drag a bike on any of the treks I've done in Nepal.

I plan to walk the CF this June, but I've been battling a case of plantar fasciitis for several months and while I hope to shake it (tried everything from chiropractors to physical therapy), the planner in me says to prepare to bike the CF if it doesn't get better.
So, my questions are these:
1. Has anyone both biked and walked the Camino Frances?
2. If so, how would you describe your experiences with biking vs. walking?
3. Was it as rewarding as walking?
4. Did you take your own bike or get one there?
Part of me thinks biking the Camino wouldn't be as rich or deep an experience.There is something about putting one foot in front of the other every day for 800 clicks. The slowing down. The hardship. The being with others and being alone. Biking is fast and the landscape and others go by in an instant. Plus, I hate riding past pilgrims who are on foot--something in that bothers me, having to announce my approach all the time.
I will be going solo and part of the reason I want to do the CF is both for the solitude and for the comaradarie--is that as possible on a bike?
I thought if the plantar fasciitis doesn't improve I'd just wait another year. But I've waited 20 years and now the plantar fasciitis is kicking in and if it doesn't improve then a bike is Plan B. I'd take my horse, but don't think he'd like the flight!
Thank you for any advice you veteran members can offer who have done it both on foot and in the saddle!
You'll need to figure out your own preference.
I biked the northern route and it is less busy than the Frances route, so there is less people to pass. I got off the bike a good few times and walked with people. I also went off the route and spent the odd night on beaches. I was able to do the whole Camino including Finisterre and Muxia in about 18 days. Walking you may meet up with more people, but you may be stuck with someone that drives you crazy. I used a mountain bike and it took me 11hrs to do 50km on the first day it was really hard for first 3 days and I got rid of a lot of my stuff after that, so don't take too much. Maybe cycle this year and walk when your thing clears up. I met some great bikers on the Camino and because we were in the minority there was a genuine closeness. 2 in particular we cycled a few days then separated and met up again by chance a few times. There were walkers I wished I could have spent more time with but it was a great time and I may walk it the next time.
 
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ellsea

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Oct. 2015 SJPdP-SdC
#6
Caveat: I have not biked the CF.

My advice is to be clear with yourself as to the "camino experience" that you are truly seeking. Is it important to you to cover 800 km in your allotted time by any means necessary? Is it important to you that you walk as far as you can in your allotted time? Is it important to you to travel at a slow pace?

From what you have written, it sounds to me like you have a long list of reasons not to ride a bike, rather you want to have the walking experience. I did meet some folks who started out walking, then opted for bike rentals part way through due to pain.
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#7
Everyone is different.
I'd rather go to the dentist than bike the paved roads near the Frances. AdaR liked the Frances doing just that. No one is right or wrong, we are just different.

I'd much rather ride a mt. bike on the Frances than walk it.
I'd rather walk some of the Stevenson trail, or the mountainous part of the Voie Aurelian. Those trails are sort of 50-50 for me.
I'd hate to drag a bike on any of the treks I've done in Nepal.

You'll need to figure out your own preference.
========
Right! I've backpacked non-maintained trails in the Grand Canyon and hiked throughout the US, Canada and Europe, and I'd never take a bike on those trips. And I've ridden bikes on 400 miles cross country trips that I wouldn't want to hike. Yes, everyone is different, but every adventure is different, too, thus the reason for my inquiry from those who done both the walk and the bike is to help me learn from those who gone before. Thank you!
I biked the northern route and it is less busy than the frances route, so there is less people to pass . I got off the bike a good few times and walked with people . I also went off the route and spent the odd night on beaches .I was able to do the whole camino including finisterre and muxia in about 18 days .Walking you may meet up with more people , but you may be stuck with someone that drives you crazy. I used a mountain bike and it took me 11hrs to do 50km on the first day it was really hard for first 3 days and i got rid of a lot of my stuff after that , so dont take too much . Maybe cycle this year and walk when your thing clears up. I met some great bikers on the camino and because we were in the minority there was a genuine closeness . 2 inparticular we cycled a few days then seperated and met up again by chance a few times .There were walkers I wished I could have spent more time with but it was a great time and I may walk it the next time.
Michael: Good advice! Riding it and getting off at times to walk it might do the trick! Glad to hear that your bonded with some other cyclists! Thank you.
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#8
Caveat: I have not biked the CF.

My advice is to be clear with yourself as to the "camino experience" that you are truly seeking. Is it important to you to cover 800 km in your allotted time by any means necessary? Is it important to you that you walk as far as you can in your allotted time? Is it important to you to travel at a slow pace?

From what you have written, it sounds to me like you have a long list of reasons not to ride a bike, rather you want to have the walking experience. I did meet some folks who started out walking, then opted for bike rentals part way through due to pain.
Ellsea: Thank you! I've wanted the experience to be that which comes from walking, but my plantar fasciitis, if it does clear up, may force me to cycle. My goal is to walk it and if I can, my only deadline is to do it in time to catch a return flight, which is booked 45 days out. Which, brings up a question: is it possible to average a 12-13 mile day and still have time to do it "slow?' Or is that pace too fast? I wonder what an "average" pace is, knowing that everyone is different and that everyone's Camino is different…but for a moderate pace, that allows time to see and do, rather than just fill the day walking, what do you think a daily mileage would look like? Thank you!
 

ellsea

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Oct. 2015 SJPdP-SdC
#9
Ellsea: Thank you! I've wanted the experience to be that which comes from walking, but my plantar fasciitis, if it does clear up, may force me to cycle. My goal is to walk it and if I can, my only deadline is to do it in time to catch a return flight, which is booked 45 days out. Which, brings up a question: is it possible to average a 12-13 mile day and still have time to do it "slow?' Or is that pace too fast? I wonder what an "average" pace is, knowing that everyone is different and that everyone's Camino is different…but for a moderate pace, that allows time to see and do, rather than just fill the day walking, what do you think a daily mileage would look like? Thank you!
My flights were booked six weeks apart, and with transit to SJPdP, a bus ride to Finisterre, and transit back to Madrid, I was left with 35 days walking. The rhythm of my walk was such that I didn't pay attention to schedules for the first two weeks, but generally averaged 12-15 miles. Then because I made choices to stop early, stay with friends, have rest days, the last few weeks were at 15-18 miles per day. I was very concerned with my own plantar fasciitis, and sure enough, it flared up a week in, giving me a bad scare that it might become debilitating. Massage, rest, ibuprofen, even healing visualization and a bit of prayer kept me going. I was amazed at what my body was willing to put up with once I'd firmly communicated with it that I was not going to stop walking! Looking back, I would have gotten a massage at day three or four because my hamstrings and calves never loosened up after the Pyrenees which I am sure led to the flare up.

As I traveled, the question became less about what can I do versus what do I want to do? Very often in the second half, I was presented with lovely monastery albergues which I had to pass up, because I had decided that keeping to my schedule was more important. If only my ideal stopovers were always 15 miles apart... but they aren't which meant for me occasionally walking 10 km because I really wanted to slow down or visit a specific location, then making up for it by walking 30 the next day... Many people I met were happy to leave early and arrive early, and I opted for long lunches and coffee breaks and because I walked in the fall, never worried about finding a place to stay. I generally averaged 4 km per hour walking speed.

What I would do differently would be to schedule myself to arrive in SJPDP as soon as possible, to allow the maximum amount of choice time on my walk.

Buen camino!
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#10
========
Right! I've backpacked non-maintained trails in the Grand Canyon and hiked throughout the US, Canada and Europe, and I'd never take a bike on those trips. And I've ridden bikes on 400 miles cross country trips that I wouldn't want to hike. Yes, everyone is different, but every adventure is different, too, thus the reason for my inquiry from those who done both the walk and the bike is to help me learn from those who gone before. .
Well, sounds like you know what you like, so what other people like may not be terribly helpful.

Watch this video, and ask yourself, would I prefer to be on a bike or on foot?

 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#11
Plantar fasciitis can take months and months to heal. Mine was so inflammed it was almost 3 times as thick as it should have been. Don't get discouraged, you still have lots of time before your flight. Ice and stretch, often, very often. Never walk barefoot. Birkies if not wearing orthotics are your best friend. One the Camino, when you get there, ice, ice, ice.

I have never biked the Camino, not would I ever want to. Just not a friend of bicycles. And while when the terrain is flat or going down I curse bikers for having it so easy when I have to walk, how I pity them on some other stretches.

Keep taking care of that foot, it takes time. Push comes to shove you could opt for a shot of cortison before leaving, while having an ultrasound done.

Good luck.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2012 Dieppe, FR Bici CF.
2014 Ruta Vasco/CF/Primativo
#12
I have cycled the CF and walkedthe CF. My opinin that as a pilgrimage, it is much better to walk. If you want a nice bike tour the CF is also great! I cannot really articulate why the difference. But walking a pilgrimage put me so much morre in touch with what I learned along the way was my intention. And that was entering into a long and profound conversation with God. Cycling just did not offer that to me the way walking did.
However, if you are having problems with your feet you may not have the option.
Buen Camino!
 

Saint Mike II

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#13
Hola Joe - apologies upfront as I have not walked the Camino Frances - but I did cycle from Pamplona to Santiago (Sep 5 to Sep 27). I set out to try and follow as much of the walking pilgrims trail as possible (indebted to newfydog for some great insight to following this trail). The first question you need to answer (for yourself) is how experienced am I at riding a bike (laden with around 10 kg of extra weight) that I am not familiar with across country that is more than a bit rough. Once you have an answer to that question you will be well on your way to deciding which vehicle (foot / bike) am I going to travel via on my way to Santiago. Some of the roughest trails - Pamplona up to the Alto del Perdon; Maneru (5 km west of Puenta La Reina) to just west of Cirauqui (the ancient Roman bridge) and then the middle section from Villafranca Montes De Oca to Burgos (especially the 3 km west of Atapuerca) - I would be recommending you avoid or at least be prepared to walk. From Burgos to Leon and Leon to Rabanal you can ride with the walkers all the way - even narrow tyred (19-25 mm) road bikes can manage this section
Your question about what type of Camino the "solo" cyclist pilgrim experiences is very valid. As you are more often travelling one and a half to two walking stages per day you to not get the opportunity to establish the "Camino Family" that walker establish. Even if you meet up with other cyclists you may have little common language; they may ride 25% faster than you; may go on to another town when you want to stop after 35 km. If you have someone you know (reasonably well) then this will make the cycle pilgrimage all the better. There are a couple of benefits that the cyclist has over the walker - you make up time (eat kilometres) going downhill and (importantly) you can take rest days (in Burgos and Leon) to explore; have the bike serviced; do a proper job of washing your clothes.

Hopefully this will give you some assistance in making your decision. Cheers and Buen Camino.
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#14
Well, sounds like you know what you like, so what other people like may not be terribly helpful.

Watch this video, and ask yourself, would I prefer to be on a bike or on foot?

Newfydog--au contraire! I appreciate what everyone says and it has helped considerably. We learn three ways: from books, from others and from our own experiences. That's what makes this Forum so valuable. What I'd like is to be able to walk the CF, but that depends if my PF heals in time. Thanks for the video--it doesn't make doing it on a bike look very appealing!
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#15
Hola Joe - apologies upfront as I have not walked the Camino Frances - but I did cycle from Pamplona to Santiago (Sep 5 to Sep 27). I set out to try and follow as much of the walking pilgrims trail as possible (indebted to newfydog for some great insight to following this trail). The first question you need to answer (for yourself) is how experienced am I at riding a bike (laden with around 10 kg of extra weight) that I am not familiar with across country that is more than a bit rough. Once you have an answer to that question you will be well on your way to deciding which vehicle (foot / bike) am I going to travel via on my way to Santiago. Some of the roughest trails - Pamplona up to the Alto del Perdon; Maneru (5 km west of Puenta La Reina) to just west of Cirauqui (the ancient Roman bridge) and then the middle section from Villafranca Montes De Oca to Burgos (especially the 3 km west of Atapuerca) - I would be recommending you avoid or at least be prepared to walk. From Burgos to Leon and Leon to Rabanal you can ride with the walkers all the way - even narrow tyred (19-25 mm) road bikes can manage this section
Your question about what type of Camino the "solo" cyclist pilgrim experiences is very valid. As you are more often travelling one and a half to two walking stages per day you to not get the opportunity to establish the "Camino Family" that walker establish. Even if you meet up with other cyclists you may have little common language; they may ride 25% faster than you; may go on to another town when you want to stop after 35 km. If you have someone you know (reasonably well) then this will make the cycle pilgrimage all the better. There are a couple of benefits that the cyclist has over the walker - you make up time (eat kilometres) going downhill and (importantly) you can take rest days (in Burgos and Leon) to explore; have the bike serviced; do a proper job of washing your clothes.

Hopefully this will give you some assistance in making your decision. Cheers and Buen Camino.
Saint Mike--great tips and advice! This really helps me think about the biking aspect...
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#16
I have cycled the CF and walkedthe CF. My opinin that as a pilgrimage, it is much better to walk. If you want a nice bike tour the CF is also great! I cannot really articulate why the difference. But walking a pilgrimage put me so much morre in touch with what I learned along the way was my intention. And that was entering into a long and profound conversation with God. Cycling just did not offer that to me the way walking did.
However, if you are having problems with your feet you may not have the option.
Buen Camino!
Obinjatoo--I understand what you are saying about not being able to articulate the difference between biking it and walking it and the importance of INTENTION. Question: did you rent a bike there, take your own over or something else? While I'm hoping my PF will heal by then, I've learned to have a Plan B just in case...
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#17
Plantar fasciitis can take months and months to heal. Mine was so inflammed it was almost 3 times as thick as it should have been. Don't get discouraged, you still have lots of time before your flight. Ice and stretch, often, very often. Never walk barefoot. Birkies if not wearing orthotics are your best friend. One the Camino, when you get there, ice, ice, ice.

I have never biked the Camino, not would I ever want to. Just not a friend of bicycles. And while when the terrain is flat or going down I curse bikers for having it so easy when I have talk, how I pity them on some other stretches.

Keep taking care of that foot, it takes time. Push comes to shove you could opt for a shot of cortison before leaving, while having an ultrasound done.

Good luck.
Anemone--Thank you for the encouragement! Yes, ice and stetting and rolling it on a golf ball--will take that in my pack for sure! Next stop: a pair of Birkies...
 

zzotte

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012 Camino Frances, 2014 Lourdes to SDC, 2016 Camino del Norte
#18
Hello Joe, I'm sorry about your foot problems, I'm not an expert nor have any medical qualification (ok not that is clear.....) :) IMHO loose the shoes and do stretches (or as much as you can) most of the problem with people suffering from Plantar Faciitis is that the feet is weak, between orthotics, cushion shoes, supportive shoes etc your feet have no change, I read a very good analogy about that its like what happens when you cast a leg? you know weak, atrophy etc, keeping your feet bounded in all those supported devices does the same to your foot, again loose your shoes and will cure you in no time, shod running people and supported shoes causes people to strike with the heel sending your hips and knees out of whack too, barefoot running/walking strikes either with the ball or mid foot but the difference comes not with the strike but with with the force barefoot walking/running its much softer on they landing therefore reducing or eliminating injuries I'm not suggesting that you walk your camino barefooted but once you strengthen your feet you be surprise to find out you don't need all that much support of a shoe to walk the camino. You can PM I send you links about that or you can read on xeroshoes.com or luna shoes or others or read the book Born to Run by by Christopher McDougall, I hope that whatever you do will help you, now as biking or walking? I only walked, but lots of biciclinos complained they did not have a place to store the bicis

Zzotte
 

Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
#19
It sounds like you really want to walk, but here are my answers to your questions:

I biked from my home in London to Leon and then walked Leon to Santiago.

I think the experiences of biking/walking are totally different, pros and cons for both. Horses for courses springs to mind. I should say that I road cycled, stop/starting/bell ringing/not making people jump/making sure not to catch people with panniers is really not my idea of fun or relaxing or being spiritual or anything else!

Was cycling as rewarding as walking? Interesting question, reflecting back I think this has more to do with your attitude than mode of transport.

Re: slowing down. Cycling means you move more quickly but you can still slow down mentally. I met a number walking pilgrims at albergue/cafes checking in at lunchtime totally stressed out about finding somewhere to stay, given they must have been walking 20+ days already I got the impression everyday must have been like this. Not all pilgrims are chilled about the walking experience and their anxiety can rub off on people around them. I met some cyclists whizzing through and doing the route in a week others taking their time. You can chill out and slow down as a cyclist.

Re: Hardship, some people suffer when they walk, some don’t. Some people suffer when they cycle, some don’t. If you are staying in Albergues sleep deprivation might be more of a problem than physical discomfort. Do walkers suffer more? Who knows! Some make people make the pilgrimage and suffer a lot - some people walk and get pissed/party every night.

Re: Camaraderie – I think this is very different on a bike compared to walking. Assuming you are going in the summer you will meet other cyclists. Stop at any almost café and you will meet other pilgrims but you need to introduce yourself. It’s unlikely you will get a camino family but you will have lots of opportunities for ephemeral camaraderie. You can easily take meals with other pilgrims but you need to make it happen. If you are very shy, you might have a very quiet time of it.

One thing I would say is expect to stay in more hotels, you can stay in albergues but in the height of summer are you going to deny an exhausted walking pilgrim a bed on the route or are you going to cycle 3 miles to that hotel down the road (off the walking route) which has nice bike storage too….? Hotels also make the camino experience different to the typical pilgrim walking experience. Spain is a late night place, hotels allow you to experience Spain outside the pilgrim bubble where lights go out at 10pm.

If you have deep pockets I suspect you could get your bike transported by taxi each day and pick and choose which days to walk/cycle. The locals are trying to make a living and tend to be very helpful if you are willing to pay for services.

Biking the road route does give you a different perspective on the camino, the road is going to be the original route in most places. Some of the detours the road route takes are more interesting, if you do go by bike take advantage of the extra freedom it gives. If you have 45 days start further away. I would recommend Lourdes. It’s a special place, easy to get to, lots of help for pilgrims and loads of places to stay.

I suspect arriving in Santiago on foot is more exciting than by bike because walking takes longer so you have more chance to saviour the arrival, going by bike I think you might ‘just’ arrive.

Taking your bike v hiring or buying. If you have a very expensive bike I would think twice about taking it (if you want to do lots of stops/cafes/visiting things), usually storage is pretty good but if you have a cheaper bike you have less to worry about. You can rock up at church and leave it unlocked in the porch whilst you wander around, if you have an expensive bike you have more to worry about. There are companies that will hire bikes or you can buy a cheap one from Decathlon for a similar sum of money.

For me the special thing about the camino is the sense of history and purpose, I enjoyed biking but I enjoyed walking into Santiago because it felt the right thing to do. This is a very controversial thing to say, but in my opinion the scenery and the cycling are so so, they are much more beautiful places and much better places to hike/ride a bike. If you want an adventure, go by bike, explore, have fun and experience Spanish culture as much as possible. If you want to do a pilgrimage then walk the route. Or do what I did, 1000+ miles of adventure and then 100+ miles of pilgrimage on foot.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#20
Anemone--Thank you for the encouragement! Yes, ice and stetting and rolling it on a golf ball--will take that in my pack for sure! Next stop: a pair of Birkies...
Air Birkies? Well, did you know they have Birkies made of EVA? It's what I bring to walk around in the evenings and to shower. 30$ or so! Love them.
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#21
I biked the northern route and it is less busy than the Frances route, so there is less people to pass. I got off the bike a good few times and walked with people. I also went off the route and spent the odd night on beaches. I was able to do the whole Camino including Finisterre and Muxia in about 18 days. Walking you may meet up with more people, but you may be stuck with someone that drives you crazy. I used a mountain bike and it took me 11hrs to do 50km on the first day it was really hard for first 3 days and I got rid of a lot of my stuff after that, so don't take too much. Maybe cycle this year and walk when your thing clears up. I met some great bikers on the Camino and because we were in the minority there was a genuine closeness. 2 in particular we cycled a few days then separated and met up again by chance a few times. There were walkers I wished I could have spent more time with but it was a great time and I may walk it the next time.
Michael: Sage advice. I'll take a closer look at the northern route if I decide to cycle. Having less people to pass may be better if I'm not on foot--as I said in my note, it bothers me to continually ringing a bell or yelling out, "on your left!" I don't want to come across as a big semi! Two questions: 1--when you biked the northern route was it mostly on the walking trail or on roads? 2. Did you buy a bike there, rent one or take your own? Thank you for your thoughts!
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#22
It sounds like you really want to walk, but here are my answers to your questions:

I biked from my home in London to Leon and then walked Leon to Santiago.

I think the experiences of biking/walking are totally different, pros and cons for both. Horses for courses springs to mind. I should say that I road cycled, stop/starting/bell ringing/not making people jump/making sure not to catch people with panniers is really not my idea of fun or relaxing or being spiritual or anything else!

Was cycling as rewarding as walking? Interesting question, reflecting back I think this has more to do with your attitude than mode of transport.

Re: slowing down. Cycling means you move more quickly but you can still slow down mentally. I met a number walking pilgrims at albergue/cafes checking in at lunchtime totally stressed out about finding somewhere to stay, given they must have been walking 20+ days already I got the impression everyday must have been like this. Not all pilgrims are chilled about the walking experience and their anxiety can rub off on people around them. I met some cyclists whizzing through and doing the route in a week others taking their time. You can chill out and slow down as a cyclist.

Re: Hardship, some people suffer when they walk, some don’t. Some people suffer when they cycle, some don’t. If you are staying in Albergues sleep deprivation might be more of a problem than physical discomfort. Do walkers suffer more? Who knows! Some make people make the pilgrimage and suffer a lot - some people walk and get pissed/party every night.

Re: Camaraderie – I think this is very different on a bike compared to walking. Assuming you are going in the summer you will meet other cyclists. Stop at any almost café and you will meet other pilgrims but you need to introduce yourself. It’s unlikely you will get a camino family but you will have lots of opportunities for ephemeral camaraderie. You can easily take meals with other pilgrims but you need to make it happen. If you are very shy, you might have a very quiet time of it.

One thing I would say is expect to stay in more hotels, you can stay in albergues but in the height of summer are you going to deny an exhausted walking pilgrim a bed on the route or are you going to cycle 3 miles to that hotel down the road (off the walking route) which has nice bike storage too….? Hotels also make the camino experience different to the typical pilgrim walking experience. Spain is a late night place, hotels allow you to experience Spain outside the pilgrim bubble where lights go out at 10pm.

If you have deep pockets I suspect you could get your bike transported by taxi each day and pick and choose which days to walk/cycle. The locals are trying to make a living and tend to be very helpful if you are willing to pay for services.

Biking the road route does give you a different perspective on the camino, the road is going to be the original route in most places. Some of the detours the road route takes are more interesting, if you do go by bike take advantage of the extra freedom it gives. If you have 45 days start further away. I would recommend Lourdes. It’s a special place, easy to get to, lots of help for pilgrims and loads of places to stay.

I suspect arriving in Santiago on foot is more exciting than by bike because walking takes longer so you have more chance to saviour the arrival, going by bike I think you might ‘just’ arrive.

Taking your bike v hiring or buying. If you have a very expensive bike I would think twice about taking it (if you want to do lots of stops/cafes/visiting things), usually storage is pretty good but if you have a cheaper bike you have less to worry about. You can rock up at church and leave it unlocked in the porch whilst you wander around, if you have an expensive bike you have more to worry about. There are companies that will hire bikes or you can buy a cheap one from Decathlon for a similar sum of money.

For me the special thing about the camino is the sense of history and purpose, I enjoyed biking but I enjoyed walking into Santiago because it felt the right thing to do. This is a very controversial thing to say, but in my opinion the scenery and the cycling are so so, they are much more beautiful places and much better places to hike/ride a bike. If you want an adventure, go by bike, explore, have fun and experience Spanish culture as much as possible. If you want to do a pilgrimage then walk the route. Or do what I did, 1000+ miles of adventure and then 100+ miles of pilgrimage on foot.
Helen: Many, many thanks for taking the time to give me such wonderful and introspective insight. You are very kind. I love the way you balance your thoughts and I tend to have the same outlook as you.
You gave me another idea: biking from London and then walking a final portion of the CF. As it turns out, due to being able to use air miles, I am flying into London the end of May and had planned on taking the train on to Bayonne and then to SJPP…but hearing you say you biked from London, opens other possibilities. And some questions, if I may impose some more:
1. Did you follow main roads or are there "bike" paths through France? What are the conditions like--favorable to cyclists or not? I'd hate to have lorries on me all the time.
2. What did you do with your bike in Leon?
3. What type of bike did you use--road or mtn?
4. Did you ride straight thru to the Camino or did you see the sights en route to Spain, and if so, how long the trip from London to the start of the Camino take?

I plan to stay in hotels the majority of the time (along with some camping, where allowed and as a back up) for the reasons you cite, plus I've put in my time before for bunk bed communal living. In that manner, perhaps a bike would be a better way to get into the Spanish culture.

Any other advice you have time to share along the lines of my questions would be greatly welcome. THANK YOU SO MUCH, YOU ARE THE BEST!
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#23
Hello Joe, I'm sorry about your foot problems, I'm not an expert nor have any medical qualification (ok not that is clear.....) :) IMHO loose the shoes and do stretches (or as much as you can) most of the problem with people suffering from Plantar Faciitis is that the feet is weak, between orthotics, cushion shoes, supportive shoes etc your feet have no change, I read a very good analogy about that its like what happens when you cast a leg? you know weak, atrophy etc, keeping your feet bounded in all those supported devices does the same to your foot, again loose your shoes and will cure you in no time, shod running people and supported shoes causes people to strike with the heel sending your hips and knees out of whack too, barefoot running/walking strikes either with the ball or mid foot but the difference comes not with the strike but with with the force barefoot walking/running its much softer on they landing therefotrackre reducing or eliminating injuries I'm not suggesting that you walk your camino barefooted but once you strengthen your feet you be surprise to find out you don't need all that much support of a shoe to walk the camino. You can PM I send you links about that or you can read on xeroshoes.com or luna shoes or others or read the book Born to Run by by Christopher McDougall, I hope that whatever you do will help you, now as biking or walking? I only walked, but lots of biciclinos complained they did not have a place to store the bicis

Zzotte
Zzotte: Great advice! Thank you! I am trying to do many of the things you suggest, but need to do them more diligently and probably with less inserts. I am a firm believer in forefoot strike (I have coached runners and teach running form, so I know what you mean). I will check out your links. Thank you!!!
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#24
Thanks for the video--it doesn't make doing it on a bike look very appealing!
Ah! Now we are making progress. Every time I look at that video I just want to get on my bike and go! I consider that to be wonderful biking, and mediocre walking.

It sounds like you would be happiest walking it, if at all possible.

Let me be clear---I find the trail quality to be mediocre for walking, but the towns, the history, the people, the spiritual element make it a great trip. Someone looking for a pure hike can find a better place to walk. For an avid mountain biker, however, the route is primo by itself, though it is busy in the high season and I would not suggest anyone bike it without an appreciation of everything the route has to offer and a serious respect for all the other pilgrims out there.
 
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newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#25
"it bothers me to continually ringing a bell or yelling out on your left!" I don't want to come across as a big semi! !
I have seen it done like that, but actually, on the trail you are not often going that fast. We slow down to walking pace and say hello to everyone we pass. Some of them we have rolled along with for quite some time, particularly people we've met the night before or something. We have actually met quite a few walking pilgrims while on bikes, and even had some come visit us here in Oregon after the trip.
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#26
My flights were booked six weeks apart, and with transit to SJPdP, a bus ride to Finisterre, and transit back to Madrid, I was left with 35 days walking. The rhythm of my walk was such that I didn't pay attention to schedules for the first two weeks, but generally averaged 12-15 miles. Then because I made choices to stop early, stay with friends, have rest days, the last few weeks were at 15-18 miles per day. I was very concerned with my own plantar fasciitis, and sure enough, it flared up a week in, giving me a bad scare that it might become debilitating. Massage, rest, ibuprofen, even healing visualization and a bit of prayer kept me going. I was amazed at what my body was willing to put up with once I'd firmly communicated with it that I was not going to stop walking! Looking back, I would have gotten a massage at day three or four because my hamstrings and calves never loosened up after the Pyrenees which I am sure led to the flare up.

As I traveled, the question became less about what can I do versus what do I want to do? Very often in the second half, I was presented with lovely monastery albergues which I had to pass up, because I had decided that keeping to my schedule was more important. If only my ideal stopovers were always 15 miles apart... but they aren't which meant for me occasionally walking 10 km because I really wanted to slow down or visit a specific location, then making up for it by walking 30 the next day... Many people I met were happy to leave early and arrive early, and I opted for long lunches and coffee breaks and because I walked in the fall, never worried about finding a place to stay. I generally averaged 4 km per hour walking speed.

What I would do differently would be to schedule myself to arrive in SJPDP as soon as possible, to allow the maximum amount of choice time on my walk.

Buen camino!
Ellsea: Thank you for the details about your journey--and for how you endured your PF, using mind over matter! I am going to have about the same number of days to walk as you do, so you give me hope that I can do the whole route. If I could ask you a question though: if my PF flares up, I thought perhaps I could take a bus (?) and hop ahead a few miles to make up some time. It's not what I want to do, for sure, but it's an option in case I am not able to log 12-14 miles a day. So, are there 20 + mile segments that you found would be the least pleasant to walk that might be appropriate to skip over? Again, not my desire to do so and I am going to do everything I can, even it means dragging my leg behind me! Thank you for any advice you could offer! Oh--and are there places to get a massage--Pamplona, perhaps--as you mentioned?
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#27
I have seen it done like that, but actually, on the trail you are not often going that fast. We slow down to walking pace and say hello to everyone we pass. Some of them we have rolled along with for quite some time, particularly people we've met the night before or something. We have actually met quite a few walking pilgrims while on bikes, and even had some come visit us here in Oregon after the trip.
Newfygdog--You constantly give me new thoughts to consider about biking! Your idea of slowing down and chatting with walkers is a great one. I completely agree with your philosophy of respecting others while on a bike. When I am out walking, I hate it when a biker flies by like a semi, and often unannounced. I like the idea of a slow ride so I can feel the route. Plus, I am slow now! Years ago I helped train my son who was a competitive road racer and all our trips were about speed--we were doing 400 miles training rides in 5 days and I do not want to get into that pace again. Lord knows I couldn't do it now!
Could you recommend the type of bike: I assume mtn. bike over road or a hybrid. I'd rather not ship one, so is it possible to rent one there an drop it off in Santiago? If so, any recommendations on a company? Thank you for all your excellent suggestions!
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#28
Hi Joe.
We ride hard tail mt. bikes, with a full size but fast rolling (small knob) tire. I see hybrids as the worst of both worlds. We keep a set of bikes with a friend in France, but I know there are some good rentals available.

I too was a road racer in the past, but this is a different activity. Our typical day is on the trail by 9-10 am, off the trail by 4-5 pm, 40-60 km with an average moving speed of 10-13 km/hour. Morning and afternoon site seeing. A picnic second breakfast, first and second lunches on the trail, and a visit in every open church to look for St Roch's dog.

I posted quite a bit about bikes, routes etc here:
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...minos-good-better-and-best.16273/#post-350148

frances1.JPG
 

Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
#29
1. Did you follow main roads or are there "bike" paths through France? What are the conditions like--favorable to cyclists or not? I'd hate to have lorries on me all the time.
2. What did you do with your bike in Leon?
3. What type of bike did you use--road or mtn?
4. Did you ride straight thru to the Camino or did you see the sights en route to Spain, and if so, how long the trip from London to the start of the Camino take?!
To answer some of your questions:

I wanted to travel from my home and follow the traditional routes through France (Amiens, Paris, Chartes, Tours, etc.) but I wouldn't choose to do this route again. Parts of the route are fantastic parts are not. It's a long way, it's lonely going and most of the time it's not very scenic. Roads are ok, most main roads are ok (some definitely not) there are many cycle routes but the cycle route I took out of Versailles was an awful experience (constantly crossing carriageways via bridges, short sections on pavements, etc. Had to hump my bike over a crash barrier at one point as none of the locals knew how to get from the cycle path on the bridge to the road below due to building work). The Loire valley has some lovely cycle paths. I only had 3 weeks, part of what I wanted to do was cycle, get into a rhythm and forget about my troubles (much longer days than most people would be comfortable with). I stopped to visit quite a few places but much of the route through France is miles and miles of flatish farmland punctuated by big cathedrals.I got an eye infection in Bordeaux so spent some time in bed being miserable rather than wine tasting and sight seeing but other than that I spent some time in most big places.

Cycling in Spain on the roads is generally fine. There's a Dutch/German (?) spiral bound guide that picks out quiet routes. There are chunks of the cycle route that follow the old main road, which is next to the motorway. The road is still a dual carriageway but there's not much traffic on it. During late afternoon the roads can be pretty quiet. If you ride early evening you'll find local cyclists out doing training runs who are generally very friendly and some will accompany you and want to have a chat.

I took a hybrid bike, a specialized Tricoss. The bike goes most places, I wouldn't have been too happy riding down some of the footpaths but there's usually a road nearby. I am not a mountain biker so that kind of riding is a bit alien to me.

I ran out of time and headed home from Leon (got the ferry back Gijon) and then I flew back to Spain later in the year to walk to final section so I had no issues with needing to leave or collect a bike. I can't remember the details but there are a number of Albergues where you can have a bike sent to ready for you to ride and they will store it until you arrive. I am fairly sure the guesthouse place I stayed at in Leon would have looked after my bike for a week or two if I had asked.

This summer I walked along the Camino Piemont and I think I would make a much better cycle ride than coming down from Paris. If you start in the south of France you'll hit Narbonne , Carcassonne (can't be many who aren't impressed by the castle), Pamiers, St Lizier, St Bertrand de Comminges (strange place), Lourdes (pilgrim central), Oloron and St Jean Pied de Port. From there you could continue to the sea (a Med to Atlantic ride) or turn into Spain.

You're in the foothills of the Pyrenees on this route and they are beautiful to look at, plus there are some very famous Tour de France climbs on or close to the route. For example, you climb Col de Portet d'Aspet - there's a campsite and pizza place at the top - you're camping at 1000m, and the view is stunning when you get out of your tent. It's a big cycling area so you will meet other cyclists you can talk to (but probably not pilgrims). There are some awesome prehistoric sites in the area too like Mas d'Azil and Les Grottes de Gargas which is amazing (if you like history stuff). There are also lots of guesthouse type places to stay along the way many with links to the Saint James pilgrimage and there are loads of places to camp.

I did have a look at renting a bike in the South of France, Narbonne is close to the canal du midi and there are lots of places to hire bikes (returning it might be interesting). I also looked at http://www.bicigreen.com/en/5-patines-electricos . There are also service like http://www.bike-express.co.uk/ who can transport your bike (bit UK based but then that's where I live!) . These services cost more than a cheapish bike. I was tempted to buy a Decathlon bike and then donate a bike at the end of my camino but in the end I decided to walk.

I think you said you were going for 45 days? You could have a quite a cycling adventure and still walk a big chunk of the camino in that time. A 20+ day adventure with a 20+ day camino sounds pretty awesome to me and I am just a little bit envious!
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#30
To answer some of your questions:

I wanted to travel from my home and follow the traditional routes through France (Amiens, Paris, Chartes, Tours, etc.) but I wouldn't choose to do this route again. Parts of the route are fantastic parts are not. It's a long way, it's lonely going and most of the time it's not very scenic. Roads are ok, most main roads are ok (some definitely not) there are many cycle routes but the cycle route I took out of Versailles was an awful experience (constantly crossing carriageways via bridges, short sections on pavements, etc. Had to hump my bike over a crash barrier at one point as none of the locals knew how to get from the cycle path on the bridge to the road below due to building work). The Loire valley has some lovely cycle paths. I only had 3 weeks, part of what I wanted to do was cycle, get into a rhythm and forget about my troubles (much longer days than most people would be comfortable with). I stopped to visit quite a few places but much of the route through France is miles and miles of flatish farmland punctuated by big cathedrals.I got an eye infection in Bordeaux so spent some time in bed being miserable rather than wine tasting and sight seeing but other than that I spent some time in most big places.

Cycling in Spain on the roads is generally fine. There's a Dutch/German (?) spiral bound guide that picks out quiet routes. There are chunks of the cycle route that follow the old main road, which is next to the motorway. The road is still a dual carriageway but there's not much traffic on it. During late afternoon the roads can be pretty quiet. If you ride early evening you'll find local cyclists out doing training runs who are generally very friendly and some will accompany you and want to have a chat.

I took a hybrid bike, a specialized Tricoss. The bike goes most places, I wouldn't have been too happy riding down some of the footpaths but there's usually a road nearby. I am not a mountain biker so that kind of riding is a bit alien to me.

I ran out of time and headed home from Leon (got the ferry back Gijon) and then I flew back to Spain later in the year to walk to final section so I had no issues with needing to leave or collect a bike. I can't remember the details but there are a number of Albergues where you can have a bike sent to ready for you to ride and they will store it until you arrive. I am fairly sure the guesthouse place I stayed at in Leon would have looked after my bike for a week or two if I had asked.

This summer I walked along the Camino Piemont and I think I would make a much better cycle ride than coming down from Paris. If you start in the south of France you'll hit Narbonne , Carcassonne (can't be many who aren't impressed by the castle), Pamiers, St Lizier, St Bertrand de Comminges (strange place), Lourdes (pilgrim central), Oloron and St Jean Pied de Port. From there you could continue to the sea (a Med to Atlantic ride) or turn into Spain.

You're in the foothills of the Pyrenees on this route and they are beautiful to look at, plus there are some very famous Tour de France climbs on or close to the route. For example, you climb Col de Portet d'Aspet - there's a campsite and pizza place at the top - you're camping at 1000m, and the view is stunning when you get out of your tent. It's a big cycling area so you will meet other cyclists you can talk to (but probably not pilgrims). There are some awesome prehistoric sites in the area too like Mas d'Azil and Les Grottes de Gargas which is amazing (if you like history stuff). There are also lots of guesthouse type places to stay along the way many with links to the Saint James pilgrimage and there are loads of places to camp.

I did have a look at renting a bike in the South of France, Narbonne is close to the canal du midi and there are lots of places to hire bikes (returning it might be interesting). I also looked at http://www.bicigreen.com/en/5-patines-electricos . There are also service like http://www.bike-express.co.uk/ who can transport your bike (bit UK based but then that's where I live!) . These services cost more than a cheapish bike. I was tempted to buy a Decathlon bike and then donate a bike at the end of my camino but in the end I decided to walk.

I think you said you were going for 45 days? You could have a quite a cycling adventure and still walk a big chunk of the camino in that time. A 20+ day adventure with a 20+ day camino sounds pretty awesome to me and I am just a little bit envious!
Helen, WOW! You are so kind to give me so much detail. It's like you just wrote a section in a travel book! Very good advice, thank you for sharing your experiences and being honest about the route. As I've said in my original post, I have a case of plantar fasciitis and am hoping it will clear up by late May, when I depart. But in case it doesn't I am making a Plan B that would involve cycling the Camino. And when you said you road from London, well, it gave me another way of thinning about it. But based on your description of the roads, that doesn't look like it would be the best of trips. So if I end up biking it, I'll probably see about renting a bike in Pamplona. But…I'm working on healing the PF first! You are so kind and helpful and I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to give me the benefit of your experience. Do you ever plan to do the Camino again? Perhaps a different route next time? I'll look forward to see your posts in this Forum! All the Blessings for the Holidays...
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#31
Hi Joe.
We ride hard tail mt. bikes, with a full size but fast rolling (small knob) tire. I see hybrids as the worst of both worlds. We keep a set of bikes with a friend in France, but I know there are some good rentals available.

I too was a road racer in the past, but this is a different activity. Our typical day is on the trail by 9-10 am, off the trail by 4-5 pm, 40-60 km with an average moving speed of 10-13 km/hour. Morning and afternoon site seeing. A picnic second breakfast, first and second lunches on the trail, and a visit in every open church to look for St Roch's dog.

I posted quite a bit about bikes, routes etc here:
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...minos-good-better-and-best.16273/#post-350148

View attachment 22759
Newfydog--Great article, it should be in a travel book! Thank you so much for all your insight and for sharing your experiences. Very valuable to me and I'm sure to others as well. I'm going to reread it. I especially like your philosophy and attitude about cycling. Now I am torn about whether to bike it or walk it! Of course, my PF may decide it for me. I need to make air reservations tomorrow (it's on hold now) since I am using accumulated air miles and if I don't use these soon I'll lose 'em. My reservation will be for a 40 day trip. So, the dilemma is I'm hoping my PF will clear up by late May…but if the PF isn't cleared up then I have LOTS of time--way too much--for just a bike trip. I could ride in as a round trip, back to SJPP!
 

Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
#32
Another camino? I am not so sure. Life is short and there are many so many adventures to be had. Following a pilgrim route in Ireland might suit me.


Lots of detail – yes – I want people to explore the camino and its history. SJPDP has become the default starting place but when you come from further away you realise how arbitrary a starting point it is. I am all for starting in Lourdes, it seems so much easier to get to, so many hotels which make international travel easy, a pilgrim centre for the Santiago pilgrimage just like SJPDP, plus, even if you are not Catholic it is an experience to visit and see the power of people’s faith. Plus the first day’s walking is along a flat riverside path not up a mountain!

Just thinking aloud but if I do another camino on a quieter route, I think I would book places to stay in advance. I’ve done the freedom thing and I’ve done the hostel thing and neither feel very appealing to me right now.

I hope your feet heal up and you get to walk!

Best wishes - Helen
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#33
Another camino? I am not so sure. Life is short and there are many so many adventures to be had. Following a pilgrim route in Ireland might suit me.


Lots of detail – yes – I want people to explore the camino and its history. SJPDP has become the default starting place but when you come from further away you realise how arbitrary a starting point it is. I am all for starting in Lourdes, it seems so much easier to get to, so many hotels which make international travel easy, a pilgrim centre for the Santiago pilgrimage just like SJPDP, plus, even if you are not Catholic it is an experience to visit and see the power of people’s faith. Plus the first day’s walking is along a flat riverside path not up a mountain!

Just thinking aloud but if I do another camino on a quieter route, I think I would book places to stay in advance. I’ve done the freedom thing and I’ve done the hostel thing and neither feel very appealing to me right now.
I hope your feet heal up and you get to walk!

Best wishes - Helen
Helen--thank you for your thoughtful reply. Yes, life is short and there are so many other roads to go down, rather than reworking the same one again. Although as Heraclitus said, "you can't step into the same river twice; the river changes and so do you." You mentioned that if you were to do it again that you would book places in advance--when did you do your Camino, but the way? It must have been the busy season, I am imagining. I'm going the end of May and in June and plan to stay in small pensions/hotels more than bunk-bedding it in communal living. Had planned not to plan each night lodging in advance, but hopefully get a room where ever I am at the end of the day. Any thoughts/experiences/advice doing that? Thank you!
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#34
plan to stay in small pensions/hotels more than bunk-bedding it in communal living. Had planned not to plan each night lodging in advance, but hopefully get a room where ever I am at the end of the day. Any thoughts/experiences/advice doing that? Thank you!
We look for similar lodging and virtually never book in advance. We avoid high season, and are flexible about where we stay, and gain a lot of freedom by just winging it.
 

Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
#35
On the CF you’ll be fine! Decide in the morning, decide when you arrive or book ahead depending on how you are feeling. If where you stay is important to you then more planning will be required than if you just need a bed for the night.

Perhaps I am fickle but sometimes when I go on holiday I want everything organised for me and I love it. Sometimes I don’t want to plan anything and I love that too. The beauty of the CF is that you can decide what to do when you get up! I think where people run into problems is if you have your heart set on staying in a certain place, won’t spend more than X per night or if you walk to the point you can’t walk anymore. As newfydog says flexibility is the key.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2012 Dieppe, FR Bici CF.
2014 Ruta Vasco/CF/Primativo
#36
Obinjatoo--I understand what you are saying about not being able to articulate the difference between biking it and walking it and the importance of INTENTION. Question: did you rent a bike there, take your own over or something else? While I'm hoping my PF will heal by then, I've learned to have a Plan B just in case...
I had my own bike which I had ridden from the north coast of France. My ORIGINAL intention was to try and leave it in SJPP or Pamplona. It was not until I arrive in Leon that I found a place to store it. Actually, I have been thinking about your post. Having an injury and wanting to walk. I was thinking of alternatives, most of them off the wall. You try riding a horse or donkey. You could use a lama to pack your gear so you won't have the weight on your foot. When I walked the second time, I began having foot pain around Pamplona. I have never had pain in my feet before. It wasn"t PF but at times it hurt like hell. I kept walking anyway and found if I went slower in shorter stages I could manage. In th end I think slowing down was a real boon to my experience. I'm back to bicycle touring for the time being so no foot pain at the moment. I don't know if I will ever be able to walk like that again. Sad because I loved, loved, loved walking in Spain.

Anyway, good luck and keep us posted.
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#37
I had my own bike which I had ridden from the north coast of France. My ORIGINAL intention was to try and leave it in SJPP or Pamplona. It was not until I arrive in Leon that I found a place to store it. Actually, I have been thinking about your post. Having an injury and wanting to walk. I was thinking of alternatives, most of them off the wall. You try riding a horse or donkey. You could use a lama to pack your gear so you won't have the weight on your foot. When I walked the second time, I began having foot pain around Pamplona. I have never had pain in my feet before. It wasn"t PF but at times it hurt like hell. I kept walking anyway and found if I went slower in shorter stages I could manage. In th end I think slowing down was a real boon to my experience. I'm back to bicycle touring for the time being so no foot pain at the moment. I don't know if I will ever be able to walk like that again. Sad because I loved, loved, loved walking in Spain.

Anyway, good luck and keep us posted.
Obinjatoo--thank you for the added thoughts. I'm working like a thief to get my PF cured, so it will be day to day, but I like your idea about shorter stages--or longer breaks! I have a limited time--35 days--and airfare is already booked, so I have to make it by then. And I'd like to be able to have a few down days to enjoy rather than walk every day. If I could bring my horse over and ride him that would beperfect! I have thought of taking a bus/taxi (?) to skip ahead some 30-50 miles to give me added time for being able to walk in shorter stages as you suggests. Any thoughts about that? Or which section(s) would the best to skip? I am probably going to put that question out to the forum under separate thread, but any thoughts you have would be most welcome! Thank you again for your excellent advice!
 

Martin.P

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via Algarvinia by bike (Sept 2012)
Camino Frances by bike (June 2016)
Camino Finisterre by foot (July 2016)
#38
If I could bring my horse over and ride him that would beperfect!
Why not take a leaf out of Tim Moore's book (pardon the pun) "Spanish Steps" it's a humorous account of how he walked the Camino with a Donkey he bought in French Pyrenees - he was to sell it again Santiago or place it in a sanctuary but the previous owner bought it back off him - could you possibly rent a horse? is this possible?
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances SJPDP & Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 - Future: Camino del Norte 8/18 (All Mountain Bike)
#39
Hi Joe - I mountain biked the Camino Frances from SJPDP to Muxia in September on the hiking trail and it took me 20-days with 2-days of rest...first you will push the bike mostly uphill for over 300+ km so biking the hiking trail includes a lot of hiking pushing the bike...second on a mountain bike you will actually travel the whole journey while watching many pilgrims use the bus and taxis going up hills and through the meseta...third for me I don't know if physically I could have hiked this whole journey at one time because I had eating problems about half the time and lost 20-pounds on a diet of mostly chocolate, coke, and potato chips...fourth as a former outlaw skateboarder I got totally high riding my mountain bike on sidewalks through cities which is completely normal in Europe...fifth is patience and I just don't have the patience to hike the camino and I plan to mountain bike the Camino del Norte in 2017 which is mostly on roadways along the coast...sixth watch out for bike obstacles that are not obvious to hikers like low hanging branches and vines, barb wire fences and thorn bushes along the trail, small stone bridges or narrow irrigation ditches, etc. so keep your speed down and watch for bike obstacles...seventh the over 100+ km of pure downhill passing all of the hikers made the whole adventure worthwhile for me...and lastly don't act like the Italian and Spanish bikers and flow with the hiking pilgrims and take the time to stop and hike with pilgrims when you get tired and you will get more out of your camino. - Kurt
 
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edumad

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues 2012 (from Rates); Camino Portugues 2013 (Porto to Caldas de Rei ); Camino Portugues 2014 (from Rates)
Camino Portugues do Interior 2015 (from Vila Real)
Camino Francês 2016 (from Ponferrada).
#40
I've had issues with plantar fasciitis but fortunately they were short lived.
From my experience and other issues with my feet, I'd say take breaks often. The pain is bearable but starts immediately so you might develop other issues trying to minimize it.
I developed blisters on the bottoms of booth feet and ended up with an inflammation with eventually took me away from the camino because I was forcing my foot into awkward positions and tensions to minimize the pain.
 

koilife

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016)
#41
I have thought of taking a bus/taxi (?) to skip ahead some 30-50 miles to give me added time for being able to walk in shorter stages as you suggests. Any thoughts about that?
There's no shame in busing forward a couple days if your PF flames up, or in avoiding a section that is likely to put you over the edge.

I suspect that, once you get there, your concerns will shift. You may start forming community with other walkers, many you'll see for a few days and then not for another week. Others, you'll see with great regularity or even walk with. Pre-planning to skip stages doesn't make sense to me, particularly if you are desirous of community.

Some will argue differently, but I don't think there are any bad or boring stretches. Each has its own beauty and the enjoyment depends more on our attitude than spectacular and ever-changing scenery. Pre-planning to skip an area (such as the meseta) just because others found it to be boring deprives you of a discovery that might be very valuable.

Just listen to your body, walk within your limits, and bus if you need to. You should be fine.
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#42
There's no shame in busing forward a couple days if your PF flames up, or in avoiding a section that is likely to put you over the edge.

I suspect that, once you get there, your concerns will shift. You may start forming community with other walkers, many you'll see for a few days and then not for another week. Others, you'll see with great regularity or even walk with. Pre-planning to skip stages doesn't make sense to me, particularly if you are desirous of community.

Some will argue differently, but I don't think there are any bad or boring stretches. Each has its own beauty and the enjoyment depends more on our attitude than spectacular and ever-changing scenery. Pre-planning to skip an area (such as the meseta) just because others found it to be boring deprives you of a discovery that might be very valuable.

Just listen to your body, walk within your limits, and bus if you need to. You should be fine.
Koilife: Good advice on not pre-planning. Like it. Thank you.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Jacobeo. 2014 Vezelay
#43
I plan to walk the CF this June, but I've been battling a case of plantar fasciitis for several months and while I hope to shake it (tried everything from chiropractors to physical therapy), the planner in me says to prepare to bike the CF if it doesn't get better.
So, my questions are these:
1. Has anyone both biked and walked the Camino Frances?
2. If so, how would you describe your experiences with biking vs. walking?
3. Was it as rewarding as walking?
4. Did you take your own bike or get one there?
Part of me thinks biking the Camino wouldn't be as rich or deep an experience.There is something about putting one foot in front of the other every day for 800 clicks. The slowing down. The hardship. The being with others and being alone. Biking is fast and the landscape and others go by in an instant. Plus, I hate riding past pilgrims who are on foot--something in that bothers me, having to announce my approach all the time.
I will be going solo and part of the reason I want to do the CF is both for the solitude and for the comaradarie--is that as possible on a bike?
I thought if the plantar fasciitis doesn't improve I'd just wait another year. But I've waited 20 years and now the plantar fasciitis is kicking in and if it doesn't improve then a bike is Plan B. I'd take my horse, but don't think he'd like the flight!
Thank you for any advice you veteran members can offer who have done it both on foot and in the saddle!
Well you have a dilemma. The first criteria is do you prefer walking or cycling and you desire to complete or do CF in part.
It is strictly my opinion (not shared by many bikers) that the Camino is for Walkers and Horses. Anyhow to answer your questions. Of course biking can be as rewarding, Mostly the routes are parallel, you will get lots of opportunities at pit stops to interact with other pilgrims particularly in the mornings, Walking requires a very early start and finish, usually.
Own Bike is preferable ( Don't forget the bell if your sharing the path). " The slowing down......in an instant, bit, all these emotions are to be found either way. Anyway Joe I hope your PF improves and you complete a successful CF.
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#44
It is strictly my opinion (not shared by many bikers) that the Camino is for Walkers and Horses.
It is my opinion that quite a lot of it is for the local farmer's tractors. I'm glad they don't mind sharing it with a diverse group.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Jacobeo. 2014 Vezelay
#45
It is my opinion that quite a lot of it is for the local farmer's tractors. I'm glad they don't mind sharing it with a diverse group.
Good Morning Newfydog, My reply was meant to be constructive and my opinion is somewhat valid. Anyway it was an interesting point about the farmers. Joe hope your PF heals up soon, I have similar from time to time and the onset is always associated with overeating red meat, wine, liver resulting in extremly painful foot.
Buen Camino
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#46
, My reply was meant to be constructive and my opinion is somewhat valid.
Buen Camino
Just remember that we visitors have no claim to any of those roads. Sections of the modern trail were meant for pilgrims, but most of it was not. We just use them for a day, while the people who live there use them for their entire lives.





bbb.JPG


betteronbike.JPG frances2.JPG
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Jacobeo. 2014 Vezelay
#47

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#48
Well, let me try one more time. You stated that you feel the collection of roads and paths collectively marked to form "the Camino" are just for walkers and horses. I pointed out that those roads and paths are there for many purposes. All the roads in my pictures are used year round by farmers, who share them with everyone. Believe it or not, they did not make those roads just for tourists on foot or horse.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Jacobeo. 2014 Vezelay
#49
Well, let me try one more time. You stated that you feel the collection of roads and paths collectively marked to form "the Camino" are just for walkers and horses. I pointed out that those roads and paths are there for many purposes. All the roads in my pictures are used year round by farmers, who share them with everyone. Believe it or not, they did not make those roads just for tourists on foot or horse.
Lets call it a day on this, surface to repeat I stated in the thread "that it was strictly my opinion" and I am entitled to hold it. I did not suggest to Joe that he should not bike the camino, in fact I recommended that a bell was important. Two years ago, as a matter of interest I counted the number of pilgrims I passed (I'm on road bike on road alongside CF) in a given Kilometre is was 20 - 30.
Point being thats a lot of bell ringing and also possible accidents through, and I emphasise ( a very small percentage) of irresponsible mountain bikers.
How does it work in Oregon Public Parks do bikers and walkers share the same path?
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#50
Lets call it a day on this,......
How does it work in Oregon Public Parks do bikers and walkers share the same path?
Should I reply to your question, or "call it a day"?

In Oregon we have city, state and national parks, as well as various federally administered lands. Some trails are mixed use some are not. Nearly all double track dirt roads are open to everyone. In the Bend area we have hundreds of km of single track trails in the forest, and the hikers and bikers share it and everyone loves each other. Many of those trails are closed to horses.

On the paved roads, the drivers won't share anything, and try to kill as many cyclists as possible. They have succeeded in killing five of my friends, which is why I ride off road on a mountain bike.
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances SJPDP & Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 - Future: Camino del Norte 8/18 (All Mountain Bike)
#51
It is strictly my opinion (not shared by many bikers) that the Camino is for Walkers and Horses. Anyhow to answer your questions. Of course biking can be as rewarding, Mostly the routes are parallel, you will get lots of opportunities at pit stops to interact with other pilgrims particularly in the mornings, Walking requires a very early start and finish, usually.
Own Bike is preferable ( Don't forget the bell if your sharing the path). "
THE CAMINO IS FOR ALL PILGRIMS...the Camino Routes of the Santiago de Compostela is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for all Pilgrims and the Cathedral in Santiago decides the rules for receiving a Compostela...but road biking the Camino Frances from SJPDP to Santiago on the paved roads is just exercise and not even comparable to the experience of hiking, horse riding, or mountain biking the hiking trail...while pushing my bike up to the Cruz de Ferro I was struggling over several rocks when a Spanish Pilgrim behind me stated lecturing me about riding on the road while pointing at the road...I finally got mad and responded "Camino Morte (Death)!" while pointing at the road...alright it might not be proper Spanish but he got the message...and note while riding on the road into Mansilla de Las Mulas I was almost hit head on by a Spanish driver going 100+ km/hr on a blind turn under a bridge in a 25 km/hr zone...I heard his engine revving and I did not even have enough time to turn into the ditch before he passed me within inches...while on the Camino Frances I had an American Pilgrim lecture me on the proper way to push a 100+ mountain bike uphill...numerous UK Pilgrims yell at me that I should have a bell as I was passing and I was not even passing fast or closely (I do have bear bells attached to my handlebars)...and a Spanish Pilgrim lecture me about riding on the road...the real problem is the Spanish and Italian mountain bikers that treat the hiking trail of the Camino Frances like a competition race course...question...while I was riding on the hiking trail I had several hikers accidently hit me with hiking poles so should we ban all hiking poles just because of several careless or inconsiderate hikers...also I passed a 100+ hikers not paying attention while walking down the middle of the trail with headphones on playing music and walking poles 2-3 feet to each side...I call this style of hiking the "Blind Stevie Wonder Camino Crawl"...but I also understand that hiking the Camino can be boring at times...or you just get tired...or maybe you are just deep in thought or meditation...but do any of that while biking the hiking trail and you will just get injured...in Colorado there is an etiquette for mountain biking with hikers which does not exist in Europe where it appears that you just start yelling 50+ meters away and then race through the Pilgrims without care for any potential injuries resulting from a bike collision with a hiker...basically in Europe it is customary to ride a bike down a city sidewalk but your opinion is that biking should not be allowed on the Camino hiking trails because of the careless and inconsiderate European bikers.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Jacobeo. 2014 Vezelay
#52
Should I reply to your question, or "call it a day"?

In Oregon we have city, state and national parks, as well as various federally administered lands. Some trails are mixed use some are not. Nearly all double track dirt roads are open to everyone. In the Bend area we have hundreds of km of single track trails in the forest, and the hikers and bikers share it and everyone loves each other. Many of those trails are closed to horses.

On the paved roads, the drivers won't share anything, and try to kill as many cyclists as possible. They have succeeded in killing five of my friends, which is why I ride off road on a mountain bike.
Sounds like a great place for Biking. Our Son used to work in H.P. Corvallis. I wish you good health and many years of cycling all types of Camino's.
Sean
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Jacobeo. 2014 Vezelay
#53
THE CAMINO IS FOR ALL PILGRIMS...the Camino Routes of the Santiago de Compostela is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for all Pilgrims and the Cathedral in Santiago decides the rules for receiving a Compostela...but road biking the Camino Frances from SJPDP to Santiago on the paved roads is just exercise and not even comparable to the experience of hiking, horse riding, or mountain biking the hiking trail...while pushing my bike up to the Cruz de Ferro I was struggling over several rocks when a Spanish Pilgrim behind me stated lecturing me about riding on the road while pointing at the road...I finally got mad and responded "Camino Morte (Death)!" while pointing at the road...alright it might not be proper Spanish but he got the message...and note while riding on the road into Mansilla de Las Mulas I was almost hit head on by a Spanish driver going 100+ km/hr on a blind turn under a bridge in a 25 km/hr zone...I heard his engine revving and I did not even have enough time to turn into the ditch before he passed me within inches...while on the Camino Frances I had an American Pilgrim lecture me on the proper way to push a 100+ mountain bike uphill...numerous UK Pilgrims yell at me that I should have a bell as I was passing and I was not even passing fast or closely...and a Spanish Pilgrim lecture me about riding on the road...the real problem is the Spanish and Italian mountain bikers that treat the hiking trail of the Camino Frances like a competition race course...question...while I was riding on the hiking trail I had several hikers accidently hit me with hiking poles so should we ban all hiking poles just because of several careless or inconsiderate hikers...also I passed a 100+ hikers not paying attention while walking down the middle of the trail with headphones on playing music and walking poles 2-3 feet to each side...I call this style of hiking the "Blind Stevie Wonder Camino Crawl"...but I also understand that hiking the Camino can be boring at times...or you just get tired...or maybe you are just deep in thought or meditation...but do any of that while biking the hiking trail and you will just get injured...in Colorado there is an etiquette for mountain biking with hikers which does not exist in Europe where it appears that you just start yelling 50+ meters away and then race through the Pilgrims without care for any potential injuries resulting from a bike collision with a hiker...basically in Europe it is customary to ride a bike down a city sidewalk but your opinion is that biking should not be allowed on the Camino hiking trails because of the careless and inconsiderate European bikers.
Hola Kurt.I was really only stating my personal opinion in that I would not recommend the CF pilgrim path for MTB.
I would not for a moment agree that Biking the CF should be banned or anything.
Kurt have a safe and enjoyable 2016 Cycling.

Sean
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#54
the real problem is the Spanish and Italian mountain bikers that treat the hiking trail of the Camino Frances like a competition race .
If you look at the routes and rides posted on Strava, you'll see that near the cities quite a few local Spanish bike racers do use the Camino trails on their training rides. Not great for biker-hiker relationships, but that is the reality of the trails.

For example, the first climb between Puenta La Reina and Ciraqui is a local's favorite. Strava records 732 climbs up that hill by 676 cyclists. They are virtually all Spaniards, and the current fastest time is 6:25 by Jesus Bacalcoa. The fastest women is currently Nuria Rosalen.

I know this must distress those who want the Camino to be some special place for pilgrims, but to the local Spanish cyclists that road is just a route they bike up. I don't see it as our place to tell the residents how to use or not use their trails. We just need to be aware of what the situation is and go out there with realistic expectations.
 

Saint Mike II

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#55
THE CAMINO IS FOR ALL PILGRIMS...the Camino Routes of the Santiago de Compostela is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for all Pilgrims and the Cathedral in Santiago decides the rules for receiving a Compostela...also I passed a 100+ hikers not paying attention while walking down the middle of the trail with headphones on playing music and walking poles 2-3 feet to each side...I call this style of hiking the "Blind Stevie Wonder Camino Crawl".....basically in Europe it is customary to ride a bike down a city sidewalk but your opinion is that biking should not be allowed on the Camino hiking trails because of the careless and inconsiderate European bikers.
I really liked the bit about the one with headphones in the middle of the road. The nearest I came to wiping out a pilgrim (with my bike) was coming down from Monte del Gozo when one idiot walked directly across my trail. I have a bell, I use it, I called out and the drongo came within 500mm of loosing his manhood and at the same time ruining my camino. Luckily his mates pulled him out of the way. Cheers
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Jacobeo. 2014 Vezelay
#56
THE CAMINO IS FOR ALL PILGRIMS...the Camino Routes of the Santiago de Compostela is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for all Pilgrims and the Cathedral in Santiago decides the rules for receiving a Compostela...but road biking the Camino Frances from SJPDP to Santiago on the paved roads is just exercise and not even comparable to the experience of hiking, horse riding, or mountain biking the hiking trail...while pushing my bike up to the Cruz de Ferro I was struggling over several rocks when a Spanish Pilgrim behind me stated lecturing me about riding on the road while pointing at the road...I finally got mad and responded "Camino Morte (Death)!" while pointing at the road...alright it might not be proper Spanish but he got the message...and note while riding on the road into Mansilla de Las Mulas I was almost hit head on by a Spanish driver going 100+ km/hr on a blind turn under a bridge in a 25 km/hr zone...I heard his engine revving and I did not even have enough time to turn into the ditch before he passed me within inches...while on the Camino Frances I had an American Pilgrim lecture me on the proper way to push a 100+ mountain bike uphill...numerous UK Pilgrims yell at me that I should have a bell as I was passing and I was not even passing fast or closely...and a Spanish Pilgrim lecture me about riding on the road...the real problem is the Spanish and Italian mountain bikers that treat the hiking trail of the Camino Frances like a competition race course...question...while I was riding on the hiking trail I had several hikers accidently hit me with hiking poles so should we ban all hiking poles just because of several careless or inconsiderate hikers...also I passed a 100+ hikers not paying attention while walking down the middle of the trail with headphones on playing music and walking poles 2-3 feet to each side...I call this style of hiking the "Blind Stevie Wonder Camino Crawl"...but I also understand that hiking the Camino can be boring at times...or you just get tired...or maybe you are just deep in thought or meditation...but do any of that while biking the hiking trail and you will just get injured...in Colorado there is an etiquette for mountain biking with hikers which does not exist in Europe where it appears that you just start yelling 50+ meters away and then race through the Pilgrims without care for any potential injuries resulting from a bike collision with a hiker...basically in Europe it is customary to ride a bike down a city sidewalk but your opinion is that biking should not be allowed on the Camino hiking trails because of the careless and inconsiderate European bikers.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Jacobeo. 2014 Vezelay
#57
".basically in Europe it is customary to ride a bike down a city sidewalk but your opinion is that biking should not be allowed on the Camino hiking trails because of the careless and inconsiderate European bikers"

First statement is pure nonsense,Most European cities have designated cyclepaths. Secondly I did not state that cycling should not be allowed on Camino Frances, .
Hola Kurt.I was really only stating my personal opinion in that I would not recommend the CF pilgrim path for MTB.
I would not for a moment agree that Biking the CF should be banned or anything.
Kurt have a safe and enjoyable 2016 Cycling.

Sean
"but road biking the Camino Frances from SJPDP to Santiago on the paved roads is just exercise and not even comparable to the experience of hiking," Hi Kurt Is this statement a fact or Your Opinion?
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances SJPDP & Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 - Future: Camino del Norte 8/18 (All Mountain Bike)
#58
First statement is pure nonsense,
Fact: I rode my mountain bike on the sidewalls through the major cities of Pamplona, Logrono, Burgos, Leon, and Santiago I never heard any comments from pedestrians...but I ride my mountain bike on the Camino hiking trail and I heard all types of opinions.

Hi Kurt Is this statement a fact or Your Opinion???.
At Albergue La Casa Magica I meet several Spanish rode bikers that were traveling 90+ km/day...and later a group of Spanish mountain bikers that were traveling 50+ km/day using the road whenever convenient...and many more bikers using the roads...and when I asked these bikers what they thought of the Camino most had no or limited opinions of either the places or Pilgrims on the Camino...I may not have had the same experience as the hikers but at least I can tell you about every place I saw and have many stories about both bikers and hikers I meet along the Camino hiking trail.
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#59
As far as I know different countries in Europe have different laws on cycling pavements/city sidewalks and footpaths. In the UK it is illegal to cycle on the pavement/city sidewalks and in towns cyclist should always use the road or designated cycle-paths (which may look very much like the pavement/city sidewalk).

In the countryside things are less clean cut as in the UK there are many different types of off highway paths and tracks which all have different rules. The most restricted footpaths exclude cyclists but unless you are walking/cycling with a map it is difficult to tell which is which.
 

Saint Mike II

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#60
Fact: I rode my mountain bike on the sidewalls through the major cities of Pamplona, Logrono, Burgos, Leon, and Santiago I never heard any comments from pedestrians...but I ride my mountain bike on the Camino hiking trail and I heard all types of opinions. At Albergue La Casa Magica I meet several Spanish rode bikers that were traveling 90+ km/day...and later a group of Spanish mountain bikers that were traveling 50+ km/day using the road whenever convenient...and many more bikers using the roads...and when I asked these bikers what they thought of the Camino most had no or limited opinions of either the places or Pilgrims on the Camino...I may not have had the same experience as the hikers but at least I can tell you about every place I saw and have many stories about both bikers and hikers I meet along the Camino hiking trail.
Hola Kurt I am not surprised that your Spanish cyclist had little knowledge of the walkers Camino, most of the cyclist I found between Pamplona and Leon were following the roads. I think I followed the pilgrims Camino for about 500 km of the 650 km I road. When the road was parralelling the walking track I used the road. Cheers
 
Camino(s) past & future
none yet!
#61
Ah! Now we are making progress. Every time I look at that video I just want to get on my bike and go! I consider that to be wonderful biking, and mediocre walking.

It sounds like you would be happiest walking it, if at all possible.

Let me be clear---I find the trail quality to be mediocre for walking, but the towns, the history, the people, the spiritual element make it a great trip. Someone looking for a pure hike can find a better place to walk. For an avid mountain biker, however, the route is primo by itself, though it is busy in the high season and I would not suggest anyone bike it without an appreciation of everything the route has to offer and a serious respect for all the other pilgrims out there.
hey there, i'm looking around here for various posts about cycling the camino. I'm a bit envious of those who have the time to walk and i'm sure it would be a fabulous experience. I'm not exactly in an era of my life where i can take a month+ to do anything. (kids and full-time job back at home). i also am a cyclist (both road and trail) and cycling is one of my favorite activities.

I'm planning on cycling the camino next september and the video you posted makes it look amazing. I still have a couple dilemmas and maybe you could advise me? first, i'm going to be renting a bike there in spain. what do you recommend? the off-road type with panniers or a regular cross-country mountain bike with a backpack (bikepacking?) I'm used to a full-on road/racing bike and a cross-country mountain bike. (and a beach cruiser for good measure... haha...)

my second major question is which route to do? i'm interested in the norte route due to less crowd, scenery, etc. i love to eat and I'm a surfer, and i would love to visit the coastal basque country. however, i'm going to be traveling solo so i'm also interested in the social aspect of the CF and the higher probability that I will be able to connect with more pilgrims and specifically cycling pilgrims. since i'm a female traveling alone, i feel like the CF would provide the social connection that i'm excited about, meeting people from all over the world. I also feel like there is probably less of an opportunity to get lost. the death of the woman on the CF in 2015 is definitely a reason for practical caution on my part. i would love to hear your thoughts!

if anyone can connect me to an area of this forum where more people are discussing cycling, that would be awesome!

@CowboyJoe i'm wondering if you were able to walk or cycle your camino and how it went?
 
Camino(s) past & future
none yet!
#62
Hi Joe - I mountain biked the Camino Frances from SJPDP to Muxia in September on the hiking trail and it took me 20-days with 2-days of rest...first you will push the bike mostly uphill for over 300+ km so biking the hiking trail includes a lot of hiking pushing the bike...second on a mountain bike you will actually travel the whole journey while watching many pilgrims use the bus and taxis going up hills and through the meseta...third for me I don't know if physically I could have hiked this whole journey at one time because I had eating problems about half the time and lost 20-pounds on a diet of mostly chocolate, coke, and potato chips...fourth as a former outlaw skateboarder I got totally high riding my mountain bike on sidewalks through cities which is completely normal in Europe...fifth is patience and I just don't have the patience to hike the camino and I plan to mountain bike the Camino del Norte in 2017 which is mostly on roadways along the coast...sixth watch out for bike obstacles that are not obvious to hikers like low hanging branches and vines, barb wire fences and thorn bushes along the trail, small stone bridges or narrow irrigation ditches, etc. so keep your speed down and watch for bike obstacles...seventh the over 100+ km of pure downhill passing all of the hikers made the whole adventure worthwhile for me...and lastly don't act like the Italian and Spanish bikers and flow with the hiking pilgrims and take the time to stop and hike with pilgrims when you get tired and you will get more out of your camino. - Kurt
hey i would love to hear more about your plans to cycle the camino del norte! i'm planning a trip in sep 2018 and can't decide if i want to do el norte or the CF. either way, i will only have around 11 days. would love to hear your thoughts!
 

Martin.P

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via Algarvinia by bike (Sept 2012)
Camino Frances by bike (June 2016)
Camino Finisterre by foot (July 2016)
#63
Hi Saltytraveller,

Bicigrino.com looked after us in June 2016. Delivered 2 specialisd rockhoppers to SJDPP, gave us panniers, took our cases to Santiago, gave us a list of bike shops on CF where we could get free breakdown assistance & a simple drop off in Santiago where our cases were waiting.

Myself & my brother done the CF in 8 days, it was fantastic for what it was - a challenge. We enjoyed the History, The People, The Food, The Scenery.

We stayed on the trail 95% of the way, respected others, talked to all that would talk to us & met some wonderful people.

I would however recommend a minimum of 12 days on MTB for you, I would have liked more time to relax on the bike, but as it stood we had 2 x 140k+ long days, a planned 50k & 60k the last 2 days (busy sections) & 90-100k every other day between.

We only stayed in an alberge once due to arriving late afternoons/evenings & booked hotels en-route each day with booking.com

So, for me it was mostly a challenge I set for myself, plus u only have so much time off work & the 2nd part of my plan was to to be in Santiago on time in order to meet my wife & daughters - we then walked to Finisterre together with was fantastic!

I know it's a sin, but I envy u at this time........
 
Camino(s) past & future
none yet!
#64
Hi Saltytraveller,

Bicigrino.com looked after us in June 2016. Delivered 2 specialisd rockhoppers to SJDPP, gave us panniers, took our cases to Santiago, gave us a list of bike shops on CF where we could get free breakdown assistance & a simple drop off in Santiago where our cases were waiting.

Myself & my brother done the CF in 8 days, it was fantastic for what it was - a challenge. We enjoyed the History, The People, The Food, The Scenery.

We stayed on the trail 95% of the way, respected others, talked to all that would talk to us & met some wonderful people.

I would however recommend a minimum of 12 days on MTB for you, I would have liked more time to relax on the bike, but as it stood we had 2 x 140k+ long days, a planned 50k & 60k the last 2 days (busy sections) & 90-100k every other day between.

We only stayed in an alberge once due to arriving late afternoons/evenings & booked hotels en-route each day with booking.com

So, for me it was mostly a challenge I set for myself, plus u only have so much time off work & the 2nd part of my plan was to to be in Santiago on time in order to meet my wife & daughters - we then walked to Finisterre together with was fantastic!

I know it's a sin, but I envy u at this time........
thanks so much for this info! i'm impressed that you covered so much distance in 8 days!

i have looked into bicigrinos.com a bit and with your advice, i'll look into them a little more! a specialized rockhopper is similar to what i ride trails on here at home. i'm thinking that i may take my own seat though. mine is one of those little hard ones that people think would be uncomfortable but fits me just right. ;)

my plan was to try to complete the CF in about 11 days with a one-day buffer. I would love love to continue on to the ocean because that seems like it would feel right. but at a minimum to santiago, of course. that schedule with flights to and from the USA would put me away from my work and young kids for 14-15 days which i'm afraid is already pushing it! i hope that time frame will be reasonable.

I'm excited about the challenge part but what i love about travel is meeting people so i hope i'll be able to enjoy that aspect as well. do you have any thoughts on traveling alone as a female? safety, albergues vs hotels, connecting with other walkers/cyclists... and the CF vs a less traveled path such as el norte?

i appreciate all your thoughts and advice!
 

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#65
hey there, i'm looking around here for various posts about cycling the camino. I'm a bit envious of those who have the time to walk and i'm sure it would be a fabulous experience. I'm not exactly in an era of my life where i can take a month+ to do anything. (kids and full-time job back at home). i also am a cyclist (both road and trail) and cycling is one of my favorite activities.

I'm planning on cycling the camino next september and the video you posted makes it look amazing. I still have a couple dilemmas and maybe you could advise me? first, i'm going to be renting a bike there in spain. what do you recommend? the off-road type with panniers or a regular cross-country mountain bike with a backpack (bikepacking?) I'm used to a full-on road/racing bike and a cross-country mountain bike. (and a beach cruiser for good measure... haha...)

my second major question is which route to do? i'm interested in the norte route due to less crowd, scenery, etc. i love to eat and I'm a surfer, and i would love to visit the coastal basque country. however, i'm going to be traveling solo so i'm also interested in the social aspect of the CF and the higher probability that I will be able to connect with more pilgrims and specifically cycling pilgrims. since i'm a female traveling alone, i feel like the CF would provide the social connection that i'm excited about, meeting people from all over the world. I also feel like there is probably less of an opportunity to get lost. the death of the woman on the CF in 2015 is definitely a reason for practical caution on my part. i would love to hear your thoughts!

if anyone can connect me to an area of this forum where more people are discussing cycling, that would be awesome!

@CowboyJoe i'm wondering if you were able to walk or cycle your camino and how it went?
Hey SaltyTraveler! I decided to walk rather than cycle. Glad I did. I took the CF and it was a terrific experience. I kept a daily written and photo blog, so if you'd like to check it for "how it went" for me, go to www.CaminoJoe.com. It's in descending order. Looking back on it, I whined too much about my blisters! I should have reread it while on the walk...But other than that, I think it will give you a pretty good feel for what it was like. Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017
#66
I'm excited about the challenge part but what i love about travel is meeting people so i hope i'll be able to enjoy that aspect as well. do you have any thoughts on traveling alone as a female? safety, albergues vs hotels, connecting with other walkers/cyclists... and the CF vs a less traveled path such as el norte?

Hi there, I can’t help much as I only biked the CF from Leon to SdC in September this year over 5 days. Was a solo female biking with luggage in my panniers on a MTB and stayed at hostels every night. It was absolutely great! Safety is not a problem as it is still pretty crowded but never didn’t to book accommodation in advance. People are lovely and willing to help out.

It sounds like you are an experienced cyclist which will make building lasting friendships on the Camino difficult. The pace is simply quite different. I was able to connect with pilgrims at coffee stops and night stops. Each day varies but each interaction was good while it lasted. Other bicigrinos tend to be couples, group of friends or families. I bumped into 1 or 2 other solo cyclists but after 2 days ish, the independence grows on you. The freedom to have a spiritual journey at your choosing and connect with pilgrims when you want - priceless.

I’m a foodie and found it difficult to try everything on the Camino. At SdC, I took a day tour to Finisterre. Best way to end a Camino for a newbie, I bonded with other pilgrims and we feasted on seafood and paella. If you do that, you’ll eat back every calorie lost, almost.

Rented my bike from www.cyclingthecamino.com

The guy (Alberto, I think) was the best. Absolutely hassle-free and trustworthy.

Also, I put up pics and notes of my Camino to help bicigrinos on Instagram if you chose to ride the CF. Search for theintrepidpilgrim. Hope it helps.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Camino (2016), French Camino (2015), Northern Camino (2017)
#67
I plan to walk the CF this June, but I've been battling a case of plantar fasciitis for several months and while I hope to shake it (tried everything from chiropractors to physical therapy), the planner in me says to prepare to bike the CF if it doesn't get better.
So, my questions are these:
1. Has anyone both biked and walked the Camino Frances?
2. If so, how would you describe your experiences with biking vs. walking?
3. Was it as rewarding as walking?
4. Did you take your own bike or get one there?
Part of me thinks biking the Camino wouldn't be as rich or deep an experience.There is something about putting one foot in front of the other every day for 800 clicks. The slowing down. The hardship. The being with others and being alone. Biking is fast and the landscape and others go by in an instant. Plus, I hate riding past pilgrims who are on foot--something in that bothers me, having to announce my approach all the time.
I will be going solo and part of the reason I want to do the CF is both for the solitude and for the comaradarie--is that as possible on a bike?
I thought if the plantar fasciitis doesn't improve I'd just wait another year. But I've waited 20 years and now the plantar fasciitis is kicking in and if it doesn't improve then a bike is Plan B. I'd take my horse, but don't think he'd like the flight!
Thank you for any advice you veteran members can offer who have done it both on foot and in the saddle!
Hi Joe! I have walked the French Camino as it was my first and I wanted to have the "full Camino experience". If you're doing it in summer (from June to August) it gets quite crowded with Pilgrims, so is easier to follow the path walking than by bike. It also has some paths that can't be walked so you have to go on the road. Last year I did the Portuguese War or Camino Portugués by bike and it was one of the best bike trips ever!!! There is a coastal path that goes all the way from Porto to the border with Galicia and it is absolutely stunning. Plus, the path is less rainy in general, easier to go on with the bike without having to deal with cars splashing you :mad:

You can actually do the way on horseback! The travel agency I work for now they offer the camino on horseback, all of it or just part. I've never done it but maybe next year I'll give it a try :)
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017
#68
Last year I did the Portuguese War or Camino Portugués by bike and it was one of the best bike trips ever!!!

Hi Samantha,

I cycled the CF from Leon to SdC in 5 days this Sept and was on such a high I am planning another cycling Camino in 2018 or 2019. This time, the Portugese route from Lisbon. Would you say the path is generally good to follow along with the signs, similar to the CF? I used a 27.5" MTB on the CF and happy to rent the same for the Portugese route. I would loved to stick to the coastal path and off-road as much as possible. I generally did it this way for the CF excluding the climb to O Cebreiro and the downhill thrill rides which I took the road.

Would I be able to rock up to any hostels as pilgrims do on the CF? I'm hoping advanced booking is not a necessity but I do read about the lack of infrastructure until at least Porto or on the Spanish side of the route.

Appreciate any advice/tips!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Camino (2016), French Camino (2015), Northern Camino (2017)
#69
Hi Samantha,

I cycled the CF from Leon to SdC in 5 days this Sept and was on such a high I am planning another cycling Camino in 2018 or 2019. This time, the Portugese route from Lisbon. Would you say the path is generally good to follow along with the signs, similar to the CF? I used a 27.5" MTB on the CF and happy to rent the same for the Portugese route. I would loved to stick to the coastal path and off-road as much as possible. I generally did it this way for the CF excluding the climb to O Cebreiro and the downhill thrill rides which I took the road.

Would I be able to rock up to any hostels as pilgrims do on the CF? I'm hoping advanced booking is not a necessity but I do read about the lack of infrastructure until at least Porto or on the Spanish side of the route.

Appreciate any advice/tips!
Yeah definitely, the Portuguese Way is the second most famous camino, well equiped with signs and hostels along the way. The path crosses beautiful towns and cities of North Portugal, like Lisbon, Coimbra, Oporto, Barcelos, Ponte de Lima and Valença do Minho.There lots of routes that are from the Romanesque Ages such as the route built in the 1 century AD to link Braga and Astorga, it looks like you're in a fairy tail, great if you like photography.

There are two different ways: one of them known as the Portuguese Way, which goes through the coastline and enters in Galicia through A Guarda, Baiona, Vigo and Redondela; and the other way, which is more famous and busy; it enters in Galicia through Tui, o Porriño, Redondela, Pontevedra, Caldas de Reis and Padrón before get to Santiago de Compostela where you can hug St James’ image.

I rented a Felt bike, 29″ wheels, and it was perfect for the Camino. Did it during summer so it was an easy weight to carry around, and good for both road and off road paths.

In general I found the Portuguese way easier to do than the French. Not only in terms of the amount of people - French gets suuuper packed in summer and makes it harder to find accommodation if you haven't pre booked - but in the paths - less up and down hill, specially if you follow the coastal paths. True that from Lisbon to Porto there is a big lack of infrastructure so I'd definitely pre booked everything or at least plan it well, but from Porto everything's sweet. Hope this helps!
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Camino(s) past & future
none yet!
#70
Hi Joe! I have walked the French Camino as it was my first and I wanted to have the "full Camino experience". If you're doing it in summer (from June to August) it gets quite crowded with Pilgrims, so is easier to follow the path walking than by bike. It also has some paths that can't be walked so you have to go on the road. Last year I did the Portuguese War or Camino Portugués by bike and it was one of the best bike trips ever!!! There is a coastal path that goes all the way from Porto to the border with Galicia and it is absolutely stunning. Plus, the path is less rainy in general, easier to go on with the bike without having to deal with cars splashing you :mad:

You can actually do the way on horseback! The travel agency I work for now they offer the camino on horseback, all of it or just part. I've never done it but maybe next year I'll give it a try :)
hey samantha, did you bike all 3 (norte, portugal, and CF)? if so, i would love to hear more specifics. i'm going next september, female traveling solo on a bike and trying to decide which route (considering safety and not getting lost as priorities). coastal routes sound awesome but i was a bit worried about being TOO alone. whereas on the CF i don't feel so worried about safety or being too alone but maybe being annoying to walkers. I would love to hear your thoughts!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
none yet!
#71
Hi there, I can’t help much as I only biked the CF from Leon to SdC in September this year over 5 days. Was a solo female biking with luggage in my panniers on a MTB and stayed at hostels every night. It was absolutely great! Safety is not a problem as it is still pretty crowded but never didn’t to book accommodation in advance. People are lovely and willing to help out.

It sounds like you are an experienced cyclist which will make building lasting friendships on the Camino difficult. The pace is simply quite different. I was able to connect with pilgrims at coffee stops and night stops. Each day varies but each interaction was good while it lasted. Other bicigrinos tend to be couples, group of friends or families. I bumped into 1 or 2 other solo cyclists but after 2 days ish, the independence grows on you. The freedom to have a spiritual journey at your choosing and connect with pilgrims when you want - priceless.

I’m a foodie and found it difficult to try everything on the Camino. At SdC, I took a day tour to Finisterre. Best way to end a Camino for a newbie, I bonded with other pilgrims and we feasted on seafood and paella. If you do that, you’ll eat back every calorie lost, almost.

Rented my bike from www.cyclingthecamino.com

The guy (Alberto, I think) was the best. Absolutely hassle-free and trustworthy.

Also, I put up pics and notes of my Camino to help bicigrinos on Instagram if you chose to ride the CF. Search for theintrepidpilgrim. Hope it helps.
thanks so much for your input! it sounds like you did something similar, just for a shorter distance. i'm glad to hear that you biked solo, stayed in hostels, felt safe and had a great time! that's the sort of trip i'm looking for.

i hear what you're saying about the pace. i feel like that is always my trouble in general. i would say i'm never as fast as the super fast people who devote their lives to cycling (or running or whatever) but i'm usually faster than the average person... which often leaves me in a no-mans-land in between. i like the idea of maybe tagging along here and there and moving on solo at my own pace when i need to. i'm super independent and don't mind alone time, though i love the social aspect of travel. i realize that a cycling trip on the camino is quite different from taking a month+ to walk. that sounds amazing! unfortunately with work and 3 young kiddos at home, 2 weeks is all i can muster... ;) i love your idea of taking a day trip to finisterre! i would love to ride all the way there but just not sure i can fit it in... so taking a day tour would be fabulous!

i will check out your instagram page as well.. i've found a ton of helpful links and info on instagram. any other thoughts or tips that you think might be helpful... i would love to hear!! thanks so much!
 
Camino(s) past & future
none yet!
#72
Hey SaltyTraveler! I decided to walk rather than cycle. Glad I did. I took the CF and it was a terrific experience. I kept a daily written and photo blog, so if you'd like to check it for "how it went" for me, go to www.CaminoJoe.com. It's in descending order. Looking back on it, I whined too much about my blisters! I should have reread it while on the walk...But other than that, I think it will give you a pretty good feel for what it was like. Buen Camino!
you know what is so cool... that i was reading through your thread from a couple years ago, and seeing your early thoughts and concerns, then to immediately see your website and all you did and the people you met. what an amazing experience! i'm so envious of those who have the opportunity to take their time and walk and have a camino family, etc. maybe one day i can do that as well! i'm looking forward to spending some more time looking through your website and all your stories as i make my own plans and decisions. i'm always all ears to any additional thoughts or feelings you have to share! thanks so much!
 
Camino(s) past & future
none yet!
#73
Yeah definitely, the Portuguese Way is the second most famous camino, well equiped with signs and hostels along the way. The path crosses beautiful towns and cities of North Portugal, like Lisbon, Coimbra, Oporto, Barcelos, Ponte de Lima and Valença do Minho.There lots of routes that are from the Romanesque Ages such as the route built in the 1 century AD to link Braga and Astorga, it looks like you're in a fairy tail, great if you like photography.

There are two different ways: one of them known as the Portuguese Way, which goes through the coastline and enters in Galicia through A Guarda, Baiona, Vigo and Redondela; and the other way, which is more famous and busy; it enters in Galicia through Tui, o Porriño, Redondela, Pontevedra, Caldas de Reis and Padrón before get to Santiago de Compostela where you can hug St James’ image.

I rented a Felt bike, 29″ wheels, and it was perfect for the Camino. Did it during summer so it was an easy weight to carry around, and good for both road and off road paths. Hired it through the guys of Pilgrim.es, delivered it to Portugal and picked it up once I finished in Santiago.

In general I found the Portuguese way easier to do than the French. Not only in terms of the amount of people - French gets suuuper packed in summer and makes it harder to find accommodation if you haven't pre booked - but in the paths - less up and down hill, specially if you follow the coastal paths. True that from Lisbon to Porto there is a big lack of infrastructure so I'd definitely pre booked everything or at least plan it well, but from Porto everything's sweet. Hope this helps!
thanks so much for this info. i've heard that 29" is the way to go. i've even considered getting that when it's time to replace my 20+yr old mtb at home. more clearance, etc. i found a couple companies who almost exclusively rent these. i think bicigrinos.com was one of them... but i need to check. i've looked at so many..... haha..
 

hecate105

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2009 Portuguese 2009 Estellas, 2014 Aurelia, 2016 St Davids, 2017 Via Augusta/V dl P
#74
Whichever route you choose, allow time to really immerse yourself in it. Better to return and do it in stages than to miss the history and culture on the way.... I have cycled the Norte, Portuguese and VdlP and found them all thrilling and interesting. The Portuguese is very pretty and there are lots of places to visit along the route, but I found the scenery more stunning on the Norte, but still plenty to see - if you have the time. My fave so far is the VdlP - but I'm a sucker for wild flowers and offroad tracks and warm sunshine...!
Many cyclists rack up the miles/kms and don't seem to see much. I found that for several days I would be meeting the same pilgrims at the albergues, which meant I'm either travelling at a snail's pace (sometimes true!) taking long lunchtime picnics, with siesta (always true) and visiting all the beautiful and historic places en route (almost always true) This meant getting to know more people and making more friends. Then I would surge ahead and meet another group. Weirdly- after getting to Santiago I still bumped into quite a lot of Camino buddies, over a couple of days, even though I should of been miles ahead. This has happened on all my trips and is one of the best parts of it.
The pilgrims you meet (especially staying in albergues) as well as the locals, combined with the rich cultural experience of all the wonderful places along the Ways, and the fantastic food and wine, and the sunshine and stupendous scenery - are what makes for an amazing Camino experience... (IMHO!)
Don't miss any of it trying to hit mileage targets! Buen camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
none yet!
#75
Whichever route you choose, allow time to really immerse yourself in it. Better to return and do it in stages than to miss the history and culture on the way.... I have cycled the Norte, Portuguese and VdlP and found them all thrilling and interesting. The Portuguese is very pretty and there are lots of places to visit along the route, but I found the scenery more stunning on the Norte, but still plenty to see - if you have the time. My fave so far is the VdlP - but I'm a sucker for wild flowers and offroad tracks and warm sunshine...!
Many cyclists rack up the miles/kms and don't seem to see much. I found that for several days I would be meeting the same pilgrims at the albergues, which meant I'm either travelling at a snail's pace (sometimes true!) taking long lunchtime picnics, with siesta (always true) and visiting all the beautiful and historic places en route (almost always true) This meant getting to know more people and making more friends. Then I would surge ahead and meet another group. Weirdly- after getting to Santiago I still bumped into quite a lot of Camino buddies, over a couple of days, even though I should of been miles ahead. This has happened on all my trips and is one of the best parts of it.
The pilgrims you meet (especially staying in albergues) as well as the locals, combined with the rich cultural experience of all the wonderful places along the Ways, and the fantastic food and wine, and the sunshine and stupendous scenery - are what makes for an amazing Camino experience... (IMHO!)
Don't miss any of it trying to hit mileage targets! Buen camino
Thank you so much for your input! I agree about taking in the scenery, stopping and smelling the roses, and getting to know people! I will do this as much as I can! I guess I'm in a bit of a tricky scenario in that I'm leaving a job and family at home who don't do super well if I'm gone for too long. I have 3 young children who I've arranged for grandparents to help out with while I'm gone, as well as a small business that I have to keep alive. So realistically I will have to have some mileage goals in order to get from point A to point B and catch a plane to return home before things fall apart while I'm gone. ;) Unfortunately I also can't take too much time off of work since I'm the boss and I only get paid if I'm working... (lousy boss I know... haha). But all-in-all I'm really stoked to be taking 2 weeks to do something so fabulous! Even clocking in miles and breathing in some fresh air and meeting new people will be a welcome vacation from my job in front of the computer! I can't wait! One of my goals is to try to start early in the mornings so that I can have time to cover the distance without having to go super fast, as well as having a little time in the afternoon to enjoy my daily destination and the company at the albergues. By the way, about how much mileage did you cover each day while still feeling like you were able to take it all in?
 

hecate105

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2009 Portuguese 2009 Estellas, 2014 Aurelia, 2016 St Davids, 2017 Via Augusta/V dl P
#76
Anywhere from 8 miles to 40 miles! Although as you can see from my avatar pic - there are some tricky bits! Over the whole augusta/VdlP we did 1000km/600miles in 5 weeks, so an average of 17 miles a day - but then some days no cycling - just walking miles around Salamanca/Zamorra/Seville. When we did the Portuguese we averaged 25 miles a day, so we are obviously getting slower...!
Just get there and do it - it will be what it will be - and i expect you will love it!
 

Tandem Graham

Every new day an adventure
Camino(s) past & future
Bike: Plantagenets, Littorale, Frances, part Del Norte(all 2017), Walk: Le Puy to SJPdP (2018)
#77
I cycled with my wife Carol on our tandem from home in the UK to Santiago in June/July 2017. We have previously walked individual stages of the Camino Frances, but Carol draws the line at walking on 2 consecutive days, let alone 20 or 30!
We crossed the Channel from Portsmouth to St Malo, and followed the Plantagenets Way from Mont St Michel (itself a place of pilgrimage) to St Jean d'Angely, then the coastal route (Voie Littorale) to Bayonne and St Jean Pied de Port. We have toured many 1000s of km on our bike in France previously, and use Google Maps and a french site AF3V to find good low-traffic routes. The French are very supportive of cycling (it's their national sport). Drivers give you more room, restaurateurs clear tables for you, fellow cyclists stop to offer you directions. And food in the most ordinary cafe or truckstop is excellent. We camped or stayed in simple accomodation recommended by tourist offices.
Like Helen 1 (above) we met very few pilgrims while in France..... until we reached St Jean PdP, where there were hundreds. From there to Santiago we forged a pilgrim family of cyclists moving at roughly our pace - about five groups. We saw some every day and some less frequently; we met most walking pilgrims only once!
In Spain, we frequently switched between cycling the trail itself and the parallel roads, but we did pass through almost every little village which the path passes through. As a couple we preferred our own room, but many of the newer or bigger albergues offered double rooms for a few Euros more. In other places we stayed in simple hotels.
We thoroughly enjoyed our cycle pilgrimage and were both quite moved by the experience of arriving in Santiago and joining mass in the Cathedral.
This year I'm walking the Le Puy route as far as SJPdP, so I suppose I'll be better qualified to address your original question - how much do you miss of the Camino experience by cycling. My guess is walking and cycling the Camino are different, but either can be brilliant.
On a practical level, if you plan to cycle for several weeks, I would suggest you use Ebay or go to a small town bike shop in UK, France or Spain and buy a robust bike, new or refurbished, and in either case get it set up by a bike shop. Then donate it to a good cause when you've finished with it. That would be cheaper than hiring and less hassle than flying your own bike to and from Europe. And don't wear a backpack if cycling. Carry your bag(s) on your bike rack. Your back will thank you for it.
Finally, I hope the problem with your feet clears up, because you would obviously prefer to walk. May-be walk this time and cycle the next?!
Buen Camino
 

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