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Biking Camino del Norte/Primitivo questions

jnoval

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Primitivo 2015
Hello all,

I have been looking through the posts and different topics on cycling el camino. My family and I were originally planning to walk but due to health issues and time constraints it looks like it will be more feasible to do it via biking. Bringing our bikes from Texas to Spain is not only a hassle but the airlines are charging some hefty fees, so that's out. We are planning on doing El Camino del Norte, and continuing via El Primitivo to SDC. We have about fifteen days, (give or take) to complete our trip, so rather than rushing we will start in Santander, pick up our rented bikes there and get on the road to Santiago. My two questions are as follows-

1. Does anyone have a packing list of what to take with you on a bike? I assume that lightness is the name of the game, but is the list very similar as if we were actually walking it?
2. Any advice on which company or companies stand out for bike rentals? I've looked at bikeiberia, bicigrino, and cycling-rentals. They all seem pretty much the same with bikeiberia being a bit more reasonable (price wise), for a two week rental. Any recommendations or suggestions are welcome.

Thanks in advance. Buen Camino. :)
 
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Davroos

Active Member
Hi

Are you riding the road or track? As for packing, this is a personal choice, only you can decide what you think you need to take
 

hecate105

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
'09 Portuguese Estellas '14 Aurelia '16 St Davids '17 Via Augusta/V dl P. '18/'19 Michael Mary Way
Get a bike rack and panniers for your stuff - rucksacks will just kill your shoulders and make you unbalanced. Take light, easy to dry clothes, two or three of everything, a good set of waterproofs, a small tool kit and always have water and some food on you. If you're like me and don't mind the extra weight but appreciate the comfort, add picnic rug, espresso pot and stove, chocolate cake and a bottle of red wine...
 

jnoval

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Primitivo 2015
@Davroos -I am trying to ride as much as possible on the "track" but it looks like some parts if not all of el camino del norte I will have to ride along roads to make it. From what I have seen el camino del norte has some very challenging tracks that are best left to walking. I guess it will have to be a day to day decision depending of the stage and how much energy we have since there are three of us.

@hecate105 - Thanks for the advice. I believe the bikes I plan to rent will have panniers and a rack for all of our goods. I have biked before with a backpack and it is truly uncomfortable. I will take just what is necessary with me and leave a change of clothes and any extras with family in Madrid for the trip back to the US. I am still researching the bike rental bit so we'll see which one offers the most flexible price and the best amenities. Thx again. JN
 

Davroos

Active Member
I use Ortleib panniers, fully waterproof. I also use a camelback as I want the water as close to me as possible

As for riding the il Primitivo part, I have done this twice. The track is rideable, but you will need to push in a few sections, namely up Hospitales. If you go the other way, you will be pushing as well

Il Primitivo is a lovely ride and if you are fit/strong enough, it can be done in 4 days, but 5 is most probably the best way to go
 
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jnoval

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Primitivo 2015
Thx for the advice. I'll prepare for pushing uphill when necessary and make sure to pack as light as possible. My biggest concern is getting lost and doing extra miles since I hear that the markings are maybe not as clear. From what you post it looks like five days for El Primitivo and another five or so from Santander is quite doable. We have a total of fifteen days so we should be able to make it to SDC with a few rest days. I am looking at the panniers and figuring out cost, size, etc. Thx for all your help. :)
 

Davroos

Active Member
Strangely, the push up Hospitales was most probably the best marked section !!! The whole of the Primitivo is very well marked. Do you have a GPS?
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
If you buy the CSJ guide to the Camino Primitivo you will find that it gives good clear instructions which include the places where bikes need to take an alternative route to the track.
BuenCamino
 

jnoval

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Primitivo 2015
@Davroos - I do not have a GPS as I did not think I would need one. Maybe I need to rethink that?
@Tia Valeria - I just looked at the CSJ guide and it looks like a good investment. I'll purchase it now to help me plan the trip. Thx for the suggestion. I'm reading your Blog on El Camino Primitivo for more pointers and other peregrinos' experiences. :)
 

Davroos

Active Member
You don't need a GPS. I asked just in case you did then I could have given you a GPX file of the track. As for the alternatives, I stayed on the track both times I rode it. To be honest, I never saw a sign saying, this way for cyclists

Having walked via Pola Allande, I lay in my bed in Tineo, looking at print outs of gradients that I copied from Mundicamino, and I decided, I didn't want to drop all the way down to Pola again and then have a massive climb up, whereas, there is the push up to Hospitales, and the view was worth it

On another note, here is Day 1 from the first time, just click next - http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/uncle_davros/the_world/1314995530/tpod.html followed by day 1 from the next time that I did the track - http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/uncle_davros/the_world/1344361502/tpod.html

Anyway, I love il Primitivo
 
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jnoval

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Primitivo 2015
Thx. Your blog makes for some funny reading, especially when you write about having to ride/push up another hill. :) I think that either way, Villaviciosa to Oviedo and forward via El Primitivo or along La Costa via Gijon-Aviles we are going to have our work cut out for us. The ride down should be great, the walk/ride up not so much. By the way, if you send me the GPX file I'll be able to use it. Let me know where to download it from or if it is small enough to send it via email. Thx. JN
 

Davroos

Active Member
Hi

I am currently out of the office, and once back I will send you the link !!!

But seriously, I am away, and as for the GPX fie, you can load it into Google Earth to see
 

dariosilva

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2012, Portuguese 2015
Hello all,

I have been looking through the posts and different topics on cycling el camino. My family and I were originally planning to walk but due to health issues and time constraints it looks like it will be more feasible to do it via biking. Bringing our bikes from Texas to Spain is not only a hassle but the airlines are charging some hefty fees, so that's out. We are planning on doing El Camino del Norte, and continuing via El Primitivo to SDC. We have about fifteen days, (give or take) to complete our trip, so rather than rushing we will start in Santander, pick up our rented bikes there and get on the road to Santiago. My two questions are as follows-

1. Does anyone have a packing list of what to take with you on a bike? I assume that lightness is the name of the game, but is the list very similar as if we were actually walking it?
2. Any advice on which company or companies stand out for bike rentals? I've looked at bikeiberia, bicigrino, and cycling-rentals. They all seem pretty much the same with bikeiberia being a bit more reasonable (price wise), for a two week rental. Any recommendations or suggestions are welcome.

Thanks in advance. Buen Camino. :)
I used bikeiberia summer 2011, renting 5 bikes for family. They were great. Received a discount after my letting them know that we had several spokes break and had to have them replaced. It was not their fault, it was our miss shifting and getting chain rubbing spokes. They also transported extra luggage for us to our final hotel in SC.
For packing: 1 pr cycling shorts, 1 pr regular shorts (ck out rivbike.com), 1 pr long or knickers pants (ck rivbike again), several pr smart wool socks, bike shirts maybe 1 or 2, 1 long sleeve shirt/blouse for dress up preferably non cotton and toiletries. As far as shoes, I used a light pair of running shoes. I prefer straps on my pedals. You will be walking you bike a lot. Sunscreen for sure. And any other weight that you can handle, like long sleeve silk t shirt, arm warmers, helmet of course. All of this is just a suggestion... Pack light x3.
 

jnoval

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Primitivo 2015
I used bikeiberia summer 2011, renting 5 bikes for family. They were great. Received a discount after my letting them know that we had several spokes break and had to have them replaced. It was not their fault, it was our miss shifting and getting chain rubbing spokes. They also transported extra luggage for us to our final hotel in SC.
For packing: 1 pr cycling shorts, 1 pr regular shorts (ck out rivbike.com), 1 pr long or knickers pants (ck rivbike again), several pr smart wool socks, bike shirts maybe 1 or 2, 1 long sleeve shirt/blouse for dress up preferably non cotton and toiletries. As far as shoes, I used a light pair of running shoes. I prefer straps on my pedals. You will be walking you bike a lot. Sunscreen for sure. And any other weight that you can handle, like long sleeve silk t shirt, arm warmers, helmet of course. All of this is just a suggestion... Pack light x3.


Thanks for the information. It looks like Bikeiberia makes it pretty easy to rent the three bikes that I am working on getting. I like the idea of getting some extra clothes and things being sent ahead to SDC by them as well. That way we can have some clean stuff to travel in as the cycling look would not be very comfortable on the plane back to the US. BTW, what kind of straps did you take with you for your pedals? I am looking at options and these are endless. Also, did you take your helmet with you (I am planning on taking mine but it is bulky)? How about panniers, or did you rent these from BikeIberia? I also plan to take my running shoes as these are the most comfortable and I think would dry the quickest if/when they got wet. Thx for the info, again. =)
 

designwald

New Member
Hi Jnoval;

I did Camino Frances back in May to SDC virually all on trail. Don't know about del Norte; but glad I mostly did the trail for the experience of the Camino. My advice would be polite to the hikers (get a handlebar bell) and slow down once in a while and have some chats with the hikers, it will make for a better Camino. I suggest 3-4 pair of underwear/socks (I took 6), T-Shirts/Shorts/1 pair of jeans for walking around after the days riding ( I stopped about 3-4pm every day to walk and enjoy the town where I was). I agree with the biking shorts and long tights for biking on cool mornings. Windbreakers are great (I took 3 and layered, but that was in May), some lightweight rair gear (pancho), snacks, tool kits, spare inner tubes (I took 3 and never used one), lightweight camera or use your cell phone camera (I took a full digital SLR and hardly used it). Biking gloves for sure! both open finger and full fingered. Something to read and maybe something to journal in are great. I liked my clip in pedals and took my very nice mt bike (Santa Cruz), but it was expensive for the fees and got totally trashed on the Camino. Had it have it completely rebuilt after. Go for the best bike they have for rent if you are riding the trail, you will need it. Happy to send you a link to my blog I did if you want to email me, designwald@hotmail.com
 
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dariosilva

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2012, Portuguese 2015
Thanks for the information.
Ooops, misspoke. We actually traveled May-June 2012. It rained on us the first three days from Pamplona to Burgos. Of five of us traveling I was the only one to forget my rain jacket....take one. Bikeiberia supplies every two bikes with a tool kit and a spare tube. There are small bike shops in almost all of the larger small towns as well, just ask for a "taller de bicicleta". Taller is pronounced 'tayer'. Bikeiberia will supply toe guards and straps if you ask. We took one suit case to put stuff in that we thought we might need and used a pannier as a carry on. In Pamplona, where we picked up our bikes, we loaded our panniers and put the rest of our clean travel clothes in the suitcase, which Bikeiberia then sent to SC to our final hotel. The bikes from BI also will have a handle bar pack. We took our own helmets. Consider a bright green mesh vest for visibility on roads, although, Europeans are much more bicycle conscious than USA drivers. If you have a favorite saddle take it. I regretted not having taken my well worn Brooks saddle and post. My brother took his and was not as sore at the end of the day as I was. Glad I took monkey butt cream. Also consider quick dry a couple of quick dry camp towels, bath size, a silk sleep sack , and some castile soap for washing out clothes. Water bottles of course and you can buy snacks on the road. I would load my handle bar bag with pasteries and chocolate bars. My wife took her apple gadget to listen to music and text back home. Did I forget camera. I took a battery type so that I would not have to mess with charging. Although it is all in what you want to carry for 500 miles. My daughter took all her electronic stuff that college kids know how to manipulate. She got a simm card in Burgos and used her gps on her phone. The only other thing I can think of to take is a curious mind and open heart....buen camino. ps....we took a day off in Burgos and Leon and a whole half day in Porto Marin. Plan some days off if you can. it will help the body rest and keep you fresh.
 

stompywomp

New Member
Hello all,

I have been looking through the posts and different topics on cycling el camino. My family and I were originally planning to walk but due to health issues and time constraints it looks like it will be more feasible to do it via biking. Bringing our bikes from Texas to Spain is not only a hassle but the airlines are charging some hefty fees, so that's out. We are planning on doing El Camino del Norte, and continuing via El Primitivo to SDC. We have about fifteen days, (give or take) to complete our trip, so rather than rushing we will start in Santander, pick up our rented bikes there and get on the road to Santiago. My two questions are as follows-

1. Does anyone have a packing list of what to take with you on a bike? I assume that lightness is the name of the game, but is the list very similar as if we were actually walking it?
2. Any advice on which company or companies stand out for bike rentals? I've looked at bikeiberia, bicigrino, and cycling-rentals. They all seem pretty much the same with bikeiberia being a bit more reasonable (price wise), for a two week rental. Any recommendations or suggestions are welcome.

Thanks in advance. Buen Camino. :)
We have used Bikeiberia to do the Camino Portuguese and the Camino via de la Plata (2012/2013) and we could not recommend them more highly. Prices are good compared to others and their deliver and pick up service is great.
 

obinjatoo@yahoo.com

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2012 Dieppe, FR Bici CF.
2014 Ruta Vasco/CF/Primativo
Depending on the bikes you ride now, I have heard mixed reviews of rentals in Spain. I rode my own bike from London (took a ferry and a few trains). I had my bike shipped from London afterwards using these folks. http://www.luggageforward.com/shipping/what-can-i-ship/ Very reasonable and very efficient. Just a thought.
I cycled the French route sendero (footpath) on basically a road bike with slick but very wide tires (28X2 fits a 700 rim). Anyway, had a great ride. I've heard the route you are planning is much more rugged. Be prepared to push, even on a mountain bike in spots. I carried a tent and sleeping bag as well as the basics for any type of adventure travel. If yer planning on hostels alone, forget the tent. It sure was nice and quiet though. The draw back of course is that "wild" camping in Spain is technically illegal.
Here is the most important piece of advice, "Less is more".... You'd be surprised what you can do without....
And one last thought: My experience taught me that for strictly adventure cycling, you can't go wrong. But as a pilgrimage, I would walk. I walked the last 200 miles or so and had a very different experience.
Good Luck,
Robin
 
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jnoval

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Primitivo 2015
Thx for the information Robin. If I lived on your side of the world a ferry or train to Santander would be my first choice. Coming from Texas and with the crazy fees that the airlines charge to transport your bike I think renting will be a tad cheaper and much less hassle.

Also, I had originally planned everything around us walking, but for my wife that is not a possibility at this point due to problems with her feet. In order to not exclude her we decided to share the experience by cycling it together with our son. Anyway you slice it we'll have to get off our bikes and push, so I want to minimize the amount of time she has to walk.

In the future I have plans to come back and finish out the parts I could not do on this trip by walking. Right now I am trying to make this happen for all of us since our son will finish high school in early June of 2015, and I have a feeling that this might be the last big trip we do together before he goes off to college in the fall.

So, my target month for this trip is the second week of June 2015. And, we will pack as light as possible. I can't wait. ;)
 

CyclingJeff

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Via de la Plata route, Seville-Santiago, and the Camino Francesa, summer 2013, via touring bicycle, solo. Planning Camino Francesa east-west, by mountain bike, 2014.
Hi, jnoval. I travel with my touring bike quite frequently. Crazy fees? British Air doesn't surcharge for a bike, but will get you $50 for a second piece of luggage. I believe that USAir and American charge about the same. That doesn't strike me as so bad. I use a Tardis Stealth bag (about $100 to purchase) to transport the bike...a bit of disassembly and reassembly required at both ends, but certainly nothing major. Protect your rear derailleur well when packing!
I had a conversation with a couple of American bicigrinos on the Camino this past September. They'd rented Giant MTBs from a company in Spain (I don't recall the name, sorry)...cost per bike of about 270 euros, IIRC. If that's the going rate, it's much cheaper to bring your own bike, even factoring in the cost of the bag (which is of course reusable) and airline fees, and you'll have the comfort of knowing what you'll be riding. My luck with the fit and quality of rental bikes at popular tourist destinations has not been outstanding.
Pack the Tardis correctly (being careful to stay at or under the weight limit - one of those hanging luggage scales by Brookstone is a good investment), pack lightly (which you should be doing anyway) and you should be able to split one bag (one military barracks bag, for a cycling adventure, serves both my wife and I nicely) between two persons, saving a $50 airline fee.
I attach a shoulder strap to one (or sometimes both, ziptied together) of my rear panniers, and use it as an airline carry-on. Saves space and weight from your checked bag.
Have a place booked in SDC for your arrival, and make arrangements to mail your empty barracks bag, your Tardis bag, and your airline travel clothing there from your startpoint. Most places are willing to store a box for you until your arrival, I have found. Much easier than trying to carry that stuff on your rear rack!
 

Charliemag

Member
Past OR future Camino
I am hoping to cycle the route from arún to Santiago with a friend some time this summer. Can anyone advise me as to where we could hire two bicycles for the journey? Thank you.
He
I use Ortleib panniers, fully waterproof. I also use a camelback as I want the water as close to me as possible

As for riding the il Primitivo part, I have done this twice. The track is rideable, but you will need to push in a few sections, namely up Hospitales. If you go the other way, you will be pushing as well

Il Primitivo is a lovely ride and if you are fit/strong enough, it can be done in 4 days, but 5 is most probably the best way to go
hello
Is it possible to rent these panniers with the bicycle? Also can you tell me how many days it would take to cycle from irún to Santiago de compestela?
Many thanks
 

Charliemag

Member
Past OR future Camino
I am hoping to cycle the route from arún to Santiago with a friend some time this summer. Can anyone advise me as to where we could hire two bicycles for the journey? Thank you.
I have used Bikeiberia several times, and highly recommend them. Rent the pannieres from them. They will deliver and pick up anywhere.

Th
thanks Larry. They sound like themost reliable and hassle free. Cheers for the advice.
 
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freeflyer123

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
www.cyclingsofties.blog
Camino de Santiago, 2013
He

hello
Is it possible to rent these panniers with the bicycle? Also can you tell me how many days it would take to cycle from irún to Santiago de compestela?
Many thanks
Hi, Charliemag. We rode from Bayonne in France to Santiago in July 2013. It took us just under three weeks. You can have a look at our adventures at: jackiejohn.co.uk
The stage from Irun to Santiago de Compestela should be there, and would give you an idea of how long it took us. We didn't try to do too much, or go too fast - I don't think this is something you can do because it's not a race. But it might also give you some idea of what to expect.

We hope to walk next time (well, I hope to, as my husband is first and foremost a cyclist, and he is not particularly warming to the idea :confused:. Whenever you go, and whichever mode you choose to use, it will be a lifetime experience, that you will never ever regret taking on. Good lock and Buen Camino.
 

Charliemag

Member
Past OR future Camino
I am hoping to cycle the route from arún to Santiago with a friend some time this summer. Can anyone advise me as to where we could hire two bicycles for the journey? Thank you.
Thanks for that. I will check out your link definitely. A friend and I hope to cycle the route from irún but we may not be able to do it all at this time. I have walked from Porto a couple of years ago and I took the coastal route. It was great. I can highly recommend it.
 

Justin N.

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte (September 2015)
I know this is coming in a little late, but if anyone is reading this thread and wants to join in, I am planning to do the Camino del Norte on mountain bike that I'll be renting in Bilbao. Starting from Bilbao as I only have 2 weeks off work. I am planning to start around September 13 or 14th 2015.
I have lived in Northern Spain for a couple years about 13 years ago, and still speak Spanish. I am 34 male and in pretty decent shape and I am coming from Utah.

It's hard finding a friend who can take 2 weeks off work. If anyway would like to join me, that would be great. I am planning 10 days to get to Santiago.

Also if anyone has any good recommendations on anything to do, or see, or stay at, that would be useful as well.
Thanks!
 

La Pau Pau

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Interested in biking info
I know this is coming in a little late, but if anyone is reading this thread and wants to join in, I am planning to do the Camino del Norte on mountain bike that I'll be renting in Bilbao. Starting from Bilbao as I only have 2 weeks off work. I am planning to start around September 13 or 14th 2015.
I have lived in Northern Spain for a couple years about 13 years ago, and still speak Spanish. I am 34 male and in pretty decent shape and I am coming from Utah.

It's hard finding a friend who can take 2 weeks off work. If anyway would like to join me, that would be great. I am planning 10 days to get to Santiago.

Also if anyone has any good recommendations on anything to do, or see, or stay at, that would be useful as well.
Thanks!


Hi,
Im planning on biking my trip alone this June, how did your trip go?? Did you plan all your stops and where tou woukd stay or dis you just wing it? Any recommendations for do's and don'ts? Did you finish on the Primitivo? I heard that is extra tough on bike, better for walking.
Hope it was a great experience! Thanks in advance!
 

miss.sam

New Member
Past OR future Camino
June 2017
Hi,
Im planning on biking my trip alone this June, how did your trip go?? Did you plan all your stops and where tou woukd stay or dis you just wing it? Any recommendations for do's and don'ts? Did you finish on the Primitivo? I heard that is extra tough on bike, better for walking.
Hope it was a great experience! Thanks in advance!

Hi La Pau Pau,

I am also thinking about doing the norte in june. Although i only just decided recently have you made any plans yet?
 
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