Personally, I'd never do that particular Camino on a bike - it was crazy enough not getting hit by cars while walking with an orange kerchief held above our heads on a stick.
But if you insist, my advice would be to get a TALL VERY BRIGHT LOUD flag of some sort so people can see you when they come WHIZZING around those tight, very narrow curves where there is no place to walk, much less ride a bike.
I have walked a couple of the stages from Lisbon, I've made it as far as Azambuja. The Caminho through Lisbon itself goes on some, but not too many busy roads, and once you get to the Tejo river you have a few km along the river on a path. The off-road kms that I've experienced so far (from Sacavem to Alpiarte for instance, or the nice river path from Alverca to Vila Franca ) would be fine for cyclists. As would all the endless kms through industrial parks.
I am hoping that from Azambuja onwards I'll be in more picturesque territory, but I fear there are many kms along the national highways. I think that the problem here may be that the Camino in Portugal didn't get "resuscitated" till recently and there may not be too many off road paths in a lot of places.
BTW, I have found only one person in the towns in the 70-odd kms I've walked who has heard of the Caminho Portugues to Santiago, and she was the one in charge of Azambuja's Volunteer Firefighters' pilgrim accommodations (she told me, though, that the overwhelming majority of people she sees are walking to Fatima, not Santiago -- the routes are together from Lisbon to Santarem). Nor did the shopkeepers I asked on the path through Lisbon (whose stores were inches from yellow arrows) have any clue. I think that north of Porto there's more awareness (and even an albergue or two), but south you will find tons of yellow arrows but no one who knows what they are for.
I'm not trying to discourage you from taking this trip -- after all, I keep going back to walk a stage every chance I get! (hope to walk Azambuja to Santarem tomorrow in fact and I'll let you know). Some of the towns, like Alhandra and Alverca and Vila Franca da Xira are very pleasant, nice architecture, good rest stops. There are pretty stages along the river, too, from Estacao do Oriente (where it sounds like you're planning to start) to Sacavem, and then from Alhandra to Vila Franca da Xira. If you haven't seen my pictures from walking the first couple of days, here's a link http://picasaweb.google.com/laurie.reyn ... Dxipep3Vo#
Some more random comments:
-- If you look at the Gallego Amigos guide that's in pdf form on their website, you'll see lots of pictures of earthen trails, so I assume I'm going to find them at some point.
-- I can't imagine riding a bike from the Lisbon airport to anyplace. Do you have details on how you are going to do that?
-- I've walked the days from the Spain-Portugal border, and that stretch is beautiful, great accommodations, etc.
-- I think that south of Porto you are likely to be pretty much alone, and you're going to have to rely on private accommodations unless you take the Volunteer Firefighters' option. But the yellow arrows are everywhere!
If it's really in your heart to do it, then you SHOULD! I'm a strong supporter of "I'd rather be sorry than wonder my entire life." And the bottom line is if you find it too difficult, you can bus or train elsewhere to ride.
Just be very careful is all.. and honestly, please consider one of those wire flag thingies so people can see you around the bends...
The thing is, it was finding a place to WALK safely. We ended up in the gutter many times, and the gutter there is a deep recess, not a place you could ride a bike... and very narrow. And usually full of water.
I know bikers are lion hearted when it comes to traffic. So if you want to do it, you should. It's just not something I'd feel safe doing and I'm pretty brave.
I am old fat and brave. Not very smart or athletic. I was planning on doing the roads. At the airport I was just going to find a sign to the N-10 and go. Your description of the gutters does not excite me. I amn not sure what to do now. I have done the Camino Frances 3 times, and the Camino from Salamanca last year. I could easily go on the Frances again. I loved it.
I have to agree with Anniesantiago. There are many sections where there is only 6 inches at most between the outside lane line and the ditch, and then only a couple of feet to a stone wall. No shoulder at all. When trucks and buses pass each other going 100km/h or so it pretty scary walking, let alone on a bike. I actually got brushed with outside mirrors a couple of times while walking as far to the right as I could get and a few times had to stand with my back to the wall to let vehicles pass.
I haven't been on the parts of the Camino Portugues that the others describe north of Porto. But if you think you're going to stick with it from Lisbon, I have a suggestion about when you leave the airport.
The airport exit road leads to a big traffic circle. There is no N-10 option, the signs point you to the super-highways or into other parts of the city proper. I was there yesterday and I think that the best option is to make your way to the river. One of the options at that circle is a street with signs directing you to Parque das Nacoes (frequently abbreviated as Pq. Nacoes) or Estacao do Oriente. The Parque is the river site of Lisbon's Expo '98, and the Estacao is the train station that is about 50 meters from the park. Essentially you will want to go straight at the circle and start going down towards the river, you will see the river very soon after you begin.
These are not city streets, they are divided four lane roads that cut through neighborhoods in a pretty brutal way. But there are sidewalks all along them, and that's definitely where you should be at this point. (I saw a couple of bikes there yesterday)
The name of the street is Av. Almirante Gago Coutinho. When you come to a big Staples store on your left, make a left hand turn and you will be paralleling the river. You can head down to the river when you see twin tall skinny buildings with what looks like a curly ship's prow on top (if you look at my pictures you'll see the buildings I mean).
Once you are on the river, there's a path that continues for 3 km to Sacavem. You mentioned that you were going to ride the N-10, but I've been as far as Santarem now, and I think you'd be much happier and safer just following the Camino, there are many off-road routes, and all are suitable for bikes, at least as far as Santarem. If you look at a map of the stage between Azambuja and Santarem, for instance, you'll see that the national highway goes from Azambuja through Cartaxo to Santarem. But the camino takes you off road, on agricultural tracks through Reguengo, Valada, Porte Mugo, Omnias and into Santarem.
Your description on getting out of the airport area is extremely helpful and I have printed it out. I am going to continue with my plans. It sounds like in just a few short kilometers out of Lisbon the road will be generous to bikers. I will just be careful.
We are cycling from Lisbon airport too! but as it is a traffic nightmare - we will get to a train station that connects to Sintra and start again there. We intend to make our own coastal route along peaceful lanes to Porto and then follow the traditional path. The description from Laurie looks great and i'm just going to check if we can get a Sintra train from Oriente!! Thanks! jo
From the Oriente train station, you can get a train to the Santa Apolonia train station, which is in central Lisbon. From there, it's probably about a km to the Rossio station, which is in between the Rossio and the Praca dos Restauradores.
You could also take a metro from Oriente to Rossio, but I don't think you can take bikes on the metro, at least I've never seen any.
There must be an easier way, but I can't think of one. Laurie
That GPS map is very cool. It kind of excites me in to changing my plans. First I was going to start from Lisbon, then from Porto. Now, perhaps I will start from the Lisbon airport as previously planned. I will be going the end of May. The GPS route did not frequently follow roads. I wonder if this was mostly off road?
The description of the road on that page I just posted is that it's an ok route, with some hills, but not over challenging.
There are some parts that are off road and some parts in roads.
I'll be taking a mountain bike, just in case.
I'm wondering if it'd be advisable, like someone else said above, to take a more relaxed route through the coast until Porto. Then, do the official route from there. There are no albergues anyways, until after Porto, so I'm not too worried about sticking strictly to the route until after I pass Porto.
I really perused the coastal route, traveling it on Google Earth in detail. It seems to be all roads. I am not sure what to do, but I am just going to go and see what happens. I will use a hybrid, as I am not into dirt riding.