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Biking sections of the Way???

Marilyn G

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
September, 2019
I was told that it is possible to rent a bike along the Camino and bike a few of the legs on the Way. If possible, I would consider doing as I enjoying biking and could save a few days on my overall trip. What cities? Logistics? Rental companies? Would appreciate your help.
 
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When riding a bike on Camino paths which also have pedestrians on them

1. Assume the pedestrian pilgrims cannot hear you approaching. Bad hearing, conversation, self absorption, focusing on the scenery, traffic noise nearby.... there are a lot of reasons that don't include headphones and music. Given the nature of a Pilgrimage, it should be of no surprise that there is a lot of internal focus for the pedestrian pilgrim.

2. Give a loud enough warning, when you are far enough away, so as not to not startle pedestrian pilgrims. A startled pilgrim is an unpredictable pilgrim and could bolt right into the bicyclists path, causing injury to both. Additionally, it is quite unpleasant to be suddenly frightened.

3. As you approach a pedestrian pilgrim(s), slow down. This helps minimize the large difference in weight and momentum and makes everyone safer.

4. In general, except for those who somehow feel entitled differently, most rules of a shared pathway are based on what is written above and are simply normal commonsense to keep all pedestrians and bicyclists safe: Bicycles and Pedestrians yield to horses. Bicyclists yield to Pedestrians.

5. While it may seem advisable for a pedestrian walking along a pathway to be aware of bicyclists, and it is something one should try to do, pedestrian pilgrims are not responsible for your behavior on a bicycle. They cannot make a warning for the bicyclist, nor use the brakes, nor steer the wheel.

6. Pedestrian and Bicycle Pilgrims are on Camino for a shared goal. Each is there to gain some sort of fulfillment and experience the Camino spiritually or physically, or culturally, or religiously or all of the above. Loving, caring, and respecting one another requires accommodation of differences and nurturing an attitude of giving. Pedestrians can assist the bicyclist by standing aside when you know they are approaching, offering to help with mechanical breakdowns (if knowledgeable), and grabbing a piece of the bike -- with permission -- to help the bicycle peregrino make it up a steep slope or extra muddy path.

Bicycle Peregrinos can be of similar attitude by simply observing the points above.

God Bless Us All; And Let Us Love One Another.
 

Antomuchacho

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning on startting first time at e d of april start of may
Hey marilyn,
Just rent a bike,jump on it , and enjoy youreself☺
Try the big cities for pick up and drop off centres, just google it ime sure youle find it as i heard of poeople doing it before en route☺
 

Dorpie

RIP 2019
Year of past OR future Camino
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015, July 2017, October 2019
Welcome to the forum Marilyn!

You can indeed bike sections, or indeed all of the camino if you like. I haven't done it myself so I'm afraid I can't offer too many details but I know that several pilgrims on this forum have chosen to cycle the Burgos to Leon section across the Meseta as it is relatively flat and to some people's mind not the most beautiful.

@joecamino who's a lovely guy (and I hope won't mind me volunteering him) may be able to offer further advice, here's a link to a post where he shares the details of the company he used.


Buen Camino,

Rob.
 

Helen1

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
Can't help with companies. Logistically, if you're going peak season the bit from Sarria to Santagio gets very busy and personally I don't think it would be enjoyable cycle that part on the footpaths (plus I think you might hit a few problems when you ask for your credential because you would need to do the bike distance). Burgos to Leon is the obvious choice, road is quiet, it's pretty flat. Going over the Pyrenees to Pamplona is fun but it's quite a climb if you're not a regular cyclist and it's a really lovely area to walk in.

You need to work out what to do with your rucksack especially if it has a frame. The hire company will probably give you panniers but your rucksack may have to go across the rack and sit on top on them. I impulsively hired a bike on the CP at Porto - I expected to end my walk there but arrived early and thought what the hell, I have 3 days spare Santiago here I come :) . I had a cheap 40l dry bag (i.e. the liner) that I put my rucksack into to protect it/hide all the straps and secured it with a bungee (didn't unpack it). Way too uncomfortable to cycle with my rucksack on.
 
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Flatlander

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances May/June 2015, via the Atlantic Cycle Route
I can see logistical problems in cycling sections of the Camino. You will need a company, or more likely companies where you can pick up a bike in one place drop it off at another, then pick up the same or another bike at a different place. Rinse & repeat.
That would be simpler if you just wanted to bike one section.
If you look in the Biking the Camino section of these forums you will find mention of bike hire companies.

On the assumption that you will be walking and taking the bike for occasional days you'll need to figure out how to carry your pack. You will not want it on your back when riding. You'll need to secure it to a rack on the back, which can be unstable. Bike specific panniers will be better (they sit lower), but not practical for walking.

On that subject, there is a learning curve to riding a loaded bike as opposed to an unloaded bike.

Riding a new bike can have comfort issues in sensitive places! And this may make subsequent walking more uncomfortable.

If you're well used to hiking and loaded touring then physically it should not be a problem. However, if you're not used to one, other or both, there may be physical ramifications from switching between the modes.

You will also need to consider if you want to follow mainly a road route, mainly the walker's route or a variation of the two. The choice of bike, your own skills and the landscape/weather will all be important variables to consider.

The great advantage of the bike is that you can go faster, see more and spend more time soaking up the environment. The disadvantage is the same - you move faster than most so it can be a lonelier existence than many walkers. Less of an issue if you have cycling companions.

As @Helen1 says the last section after Sarria can be packed and not at all suitable for biking. (I found a nice place to sit for the day and cycled in the late afternoons and evenings - it was bliss)

I've biked the Camino and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I met one girl who started walking, bought a bike and sold it again after a couple of days. She preferred the walking experience as she found it more social.
 

Shalaw

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015
Hi there! We rented bikes to cross the meseta which, in my opinion, is the only part of the Camino that’s flat enough to do so. We walked to Tardajos which I believe is about 10kms outside of Burgos and stayed at the beautiful albergue La Fabrica, where we had arranged for the bikes to be delivered. Somehow our communication got screwed up and even though we reserved and paid for the bikes online, they were actually sold out of bikes but they quickly remedied the situation and had another company deliver two brand spanking new bikes to us which only delayed our departure by a couple of hours. Here’s the link to the company we used;


Even though they do supply bungee cords, etc., to secure your backpack onto the bike, I would recommend using a daypack and then sending your pack ahead with Jacotrans or another pack transfer service, as it can throw your balance off. Aside from the crazy hill shortly after leaving Tardajos, we thoroughly enjoyed riding our bikes (me more so than my partner whose man-bits didn’t really enjoy it so much - lol) and we cut a potential 6-7 day walk down to 2.5 days, which gave us extra time to spend touring Normandy, where we spent 10 days, post-Camino.

The other thing to consider is where you will be able to stay, as not all albergues accept cyclists, usually because they have nowhere to store the bikes so you may want to consider this when planning your bike days.

We returned our bikes to a bike shop in Leon and went on our merry way. Some pilgrims look down on those who rent bikes to cross the meseta as apparently it’s the most introspective stage of the Camino, and think the meseta should not be missed, but I figure you’re still making the pilgrimage by your own strength so that’s okay by me. Having said that, we plan to go back someday, just to walk the meseta.

Buen Camino!
 
Last edited:
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
One thing to consider if you want to do the camino under your power but don't have enough time to walk the whole way is to rent a bicycle for the meseta section. (I am neither for nor against doing this; I'm just just presenting the idea.)

In Burgos (and maybe even earlier in Logrono) you can rent bikes to be returned in Leon or Astorga. Burgos and Astorga are end points of the meseta where the Camino Frances runs. Roughly, they are 240 kilometers apart (that's 150 miles) and that should be able to be biked in four days, maybe three. Brierley's guidebook suggests 10 days to walk this distance so this could shave a week off the time you need to do your camino.


There are a number of places where you can rent. Here are some links I've collected (but the list may not be complete):

Some other thoughts:
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
In 2016, we rented bikes between O Cebreiro and Triacatela. So it really only shaved one day off the trip. For us, it was all about protecting my knee, as I had heard that that stage was one of the more challenging on knees that were in bad shape (which mine was). We ended up mostly taking the roads, and mostly walking the bikes up hills and riding them down hills. It was up and down for the first 5 km and then all downhill for the last 15 km, which was really easy. Dealing with your backpacks when you aren't planning to ride the whole way is certainly something you will have to deal with. Mine was held on with bungee cords, as ShaLaw described. Not an ideal solution, but better than wearing it which really raises your centre of gravity on a bike, which isn't a good thing.
 

Jim

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2006- Camino Portuguese
2008- Camino Frances
2009- Sanabres extension of the VDLP
2010- Camino Frances
2011- Camino Potuguese
2014- Camino Frances
2017- Camino Finisterre
When riding a bike on Camino paths which also have pedestrians on them

1. Assume the pedestrian pilgrims cannot hear you approaching. Bad hearing, conversation, self absorption, focusing on the scenery, traffic noise nearby.... there are a lot of reasons that don't include headphones and music. Given the nature of a Pilgrimage, it should be of no surprise that there is a lot of internal focus for the pedestrian pilgrim.

2. Give a loud enough warning, when you are far enough away, so as not to not startle pedestrian pilgrims. A startled pilgrim is an unpredictable pilgrim and could bolt right into the bicyclists path, causing injury to both. Additionally, it is quite unpleasant to be suddenly frightened.

3. As you approach a pedestrian pilgrim(s), slow down. This helps minimize the large difference in weight and momentum and makes everyone safer.

4. In general, except for those who somehow feel entitled differently, most rules of a shared pathway are based on what is written above and are simply normal commonsense to keep all pedestrians and bicyclists safe: Bicycles and Pedestrians yield to horses. Bicyclists yield to Pedestrians.

5. While it may seem advisable for a pedestrian walking along a pathway to be aware of bicyclists, and it is something one should try to do, pedestrian pilgrims are not responsible for your behavior on a bicycle. They cannot make a warning for the bicyclist, nor use the brakes, nor steer the wheel.

6. Pedestrian and Bicycle Pilgrims are on Camino for a shared goal. Each is there to gain some sort of fulfillment and experience the Camino spiritually or physically, or culturally, or religiously or all of the above. Loving, caring, and respecting one another requires accommodation of differences and nurturing an attitude of giving. Pedestrians can assist the bicyclist by standing aside when you know they are approaching, offering to help with mechanical breakdowns (if knowledgeable), and grabbing a piece of the bike -- with permission -- to help the bicycle peregrino make it up a steep slope or extra muddy path.

Bicycle Peregrinos can be of similar attitude by simply observing the points above.

God Bless Us All; And Let Us Love One Another.
Thank you for this post. On my first Camino in 2006 (Port route), most cyclists were on the road, and not sharing dirt paths with walkers. 2008 on the Fr route and 2009 on the Sanabres route were also not bad-- cyclists seemed respectful. By 2010's Holy Year and again in 2014, sheer numbers of cyclists interferred badly with walkers. I realize that different times of year mean more or less of such a problem. Just saying... I now don't look forward to walking sections with great increases of cyclists. They pose more of a danger than other vehicles, and seem to forget that their bike is indeed a vehicle.
 
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freeflyer123

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
www.cyclingsofties.blog
Camino de Santiago, 2013
We rode from SJPdP to Santiago in under two weeks (actually from Bayonne initially) - and I'm not a fast rider, preferring to walk some of the way up the more challenging hilly sections. We used the road a lot more than I think we had to and only the tracks where we saw that there was plenty of room for both cyclists and walkers.

I agree with Davebugg above - always be aware that walkers simply may not be aware that you are there, even if you ring your bell. Always make room for them and they will make room for you. Be patient and you will all enjoy the experience.

For a novice's experience of the Camino on the bike visit our website www.cyclingsofties.blog.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
@Marilyn G , based on my experience I would commend and then add to the notes @davebugg has penned above.

Many of the sections from Le Puy-en-Velay, Haute-Loire to Santiago de Compstela are indeed sufficiently wide with adequate surfaces to be easily shared by walkers and cyclists.

Equally many sections aong that 1,600 km route are just not suitable as a shared path. The impediments include:
  • bridges less than 0.5 metres wide with sharp approaches
  • narrow rutted paths
  • smooth uneven natural stone surfaces
  • rubble strewn steep descents

The issue is these are not sign posted ahead and are in the middle of paths that may begin in a promising way. A case in point is the path from Hontanas to Catrojeriz. This is literally a sheep / goat track along the hill side. But you dont know this as you start.

My strong advice is ride on a road. In Spain:
N135 from Valcarlos to Pamplona
N120 from Logrono to Astorga
There are many regional / provincial options to cover the "gaps"

These are in reasonable proximity to the walkers route. And in many cases these roads would have been the route pilgrims walked before the roads took over. And in nearly all cases where those two roads do not immediately bypass a "camino" town with food or accomodation there is a link road.

In my view it is the journey that matters and what you hope to achieve. Annoying the great majority of walkers you pass, again in my view, is not an achievement to be proud of.

Having said that, I do wish my cycling skills were as they were nearly 60 years ago so I could have a more flexible pilgrimage. Especially on routes such as from Canterbury to Rome. And I was somewhat envious of the several cyclists I encountered on the LU633 west of Sarria as all pulled up the various hills in that region.

It behoves me, @Marilyn G , to say kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
 

freeflyer123

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
www.cyclingsofties.blog
Camino de Santiago, 2013
@Marilyn G , based on my experience I would commend and then add to the notes @davebugg has penned above.

Many of the sections from Le Puy-en-Velay, Haute-Loire to Santiago de Compstela are indeed sufficiently wide with adequate surfaces to be easily shared by walkers and cyclists.

Equally many sections aong that 1,600 km route are just not suitable as a shared path. The impediments include:
  • bridges less than 0.5 metres wide with sharp approaches
  • narrow rutted paths
  • smooth uneven natural stone surfaces
  • rubble strewn steep descents
The issue is these are not sign posted ahead and are in the middle of paths that may begin in a promising way. A case in point is the path from Hontanas to Catrojeriz. This is literally a sheep / goat track along the hill side. But you dont know this as you start.

My strong advice is ride on a road. In Spain:
N135 from Valcarlos to Pamplona
N120 from Logrono to Astorga
There are many regional / provincial options to cover the "gaps"

These are in reasonable proximity to the walkers route. And in many cases these roads would have been the route pilgrims walked before the roads took over. And in nearly all cases where those two roads do not immediately bypass a "camino" town with food or accomodation there is a link road.

In my view it is the journey that matters and what you hope to achieve. Annoying the great majority of walkers you pass, again in my view, is not an achievement to be proud of.

Having said that, I do wish my cycling skills were as they were nearly 60 years ago so I could have a more flexible pilgrimage. Especially on routes such as from Canterbury to Rome. And I was somewhat envious of the several cyclists I encountered on the LU633 west of Sarria as all pulled up the various hills in that region.

It behoves me, @Marilyn G , to say kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)

Perhaps you need to be thinking like me, Alwyn - I'd love to use an ebike on the Camino 😆.

I can second the N120 in many sections of the Camino, specially when it's running near a major motorway because all the traffic would have been diverted to that. There were parts where it was just crazy riding on the major N roads because of heavy traffic, but they were few and far between. The more minor roads were usually great for cycling on, and often ran parallel to the walking tracks, with the added bonus of fewer cars on them.
 

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